COMMENT: I enjoyed The Yiddish Policemen's Union so much that I had to read this one. I wasn't disappointed. Chabon knows how to write with POW! His dialogue is never boring; his characters are well drawn and his plots have great twists and surprises.
PLOT: Gentlemen is set in 10th century Khazaria, a Jewish state bordered by the Kievan Rus, the Byzantine Empire, and Azerbaijan. It is a great adventure - a totally entertaining yarn of two mismatched "gentlemen" con artists and wanderers who are as good in battle as they are with a scam. Amram, a giant Abyssinian ex-soldier, and the pale Jewish doctor Zelikman, a wraith who can fight like a warrior, travel together without plans or maps through the Caucasus Mountains. After a particularly successful evening of separating gullible inn patrons from their money, Amram and Zelikman find themselves the unwillingly protectors and guardians of a deposed and hunted young prince of the legendary Khazar Empire who stubbornly insists on returning to his homeland to avenge the murders of his family members. With this change of plan, our gentlemen and the reader are off and running (riding) headlong into excitement and a story that never slows down. Their way is littered with bodies, marauding Vikings, bloody battles, elephants, and intrigue. In the entertaining Afterword, Chabon explains that his original title was Jews with Swords. Highly recommended - great fun (with some historical interest too)!