Balthasar's Odyssey by Amin Maalouf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The story starts off in Gibelet, which is a city located in Ottoman Syria. 19 years before 1865 A Russian pilgrim by the name of Evdokim pays a visit to main character's (Balasar) shop enquiring about a rare book called "Teh Book of the Hundredth Name" The story then juom,ps to 1865 ayear before the bfore the year of the beast. Balthasar's neighbor diies leaving him with the book. Shortly after recieving the book a French diplomat acciedentally finds it asnd wants to buy it. Balthasr cannot decline the Frenchamn's offer so he sell it to hiom for 1500 florins. Shortly after he regrets the transaction. So Balthar his two nephew and worker Hatem set off for Constantinople. Later on in their journey they link up with Marta who is supposedly a widow. On the way to Constantinopl;e he is almost knifed by a gang, hides out with muslim mystics and makes several enquiries about the reatre book al the while pretending that Marta is his wife.
In Constaninople Balthasatr and Marta enquire about her lonmg lost husband and Balthasar explores the local bookshops. WHile visiting a European owned bookshop a fire breaks out and everyone accuses Balthasar is accused by the town of starting the fire. He seeks refuge in the3 house of a Turksih nobleman who cons him out of alot of money. When he gets out the nobles man house he find out that he was not chared t=for setting the fire and that the Turks ripped him off.
In errant frustration he sets off for Smyrna where the legend is rampant of a Jewish Messiah named Shabbtai Tzvi. Thanks to this jewish Mesiah many people in the Ottoman empire have stopped working. Shabbtais influence on the Jewish community is far from positive. THe community is very divided about how to recieve this man.. Late he challenges the sultan by saying that the Syultan wil submit to his leadership, While in Smyrna they find out that Martta's husband is living like a king in Chios and made his money by being a bandit.
The next leg of their journey takes them to that island. Marta is under the impression that she is pregant for the two of them have definitely been together. When they find his houise the bandit king abducts her and Balthasr is arrested. Later he is freed and exiled off to Genoa where his family hailed from originally. A genoan named Grigoria takes him in and gives him the provisions that he needss. Grigoria also oferes the 40 year old balthasar huis 13 year old daughter in maraqige. His journey eventually taakes him to Lon don where the book is tracked down. He cannot read the book because darkness descend on every attempt. Finally a fire forces him to flee London with the book. As ffor the rest well you will have to read the book.
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