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Marco Polo

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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Marco Polo

Postby Margaret » Wed January 7th, 2009, 6:24 am

Caveowl's mention in another thread of Thomas Costain's The Black Rose reminded me of Marco Polo. I could only find four novels about him when I researched that section of my website, and they were all pretty old. I think the most recent was The Journeyer by Gary Jennings, which I didn't care for (Jennings seems to have a fetish about pedophilia and other sorts of weird sex, which seemed out of place in a novel about Marco Polo, I thought - though I'm not a Marco Polo expert).

There's a film of The Black Rose (not about Marco Polo, but about a fictional Englishman who travels to China during the period of Norman rule)from back in the 1950s, I think, or perhaps earlier. My husband unearthed a copy on video and we watched it again recently. The acting is uniformly dreadful, except for Orson Welles who plays a Mongol warlord with brilliant naturalness and panache.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Wed January 7th, 2009, 9:55 am

Sometimes it amazes me that there are so few books written about certain people from history, and Marco Polo is definitely one of those!
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Ash
Bibliomaniac
Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Wed January 7th, 2009, 1:44 pm

Not HF but reads like it: Marco Polo: from Venice to Xanadu. Takes info straight from his writings, and combines them with geopgraphy and history of the place and time. My only criticism was a lack of a good map, but otherwise very interesting.

I liked Journeyer, better than any of his others. Lots of what normally would bother me I chalked up to the time period and the place, tho thats probably naive.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed January 7th, 2009, 3:11 pm

Despite the film, the Black Rose is a great read. One of my first HF books, and I have it on my shelves still.
I read a romance once with Marco Polo as the main character, told first-person. I'm not entirely certain, but I think the title was 'Journey to Xanadu'. It was a long time ago, but the plot is still with me.

Agree with you on Jennings. Some writers seem less interested in telling a story that includes human sexuality than about using a story for an excuse to dwell on weird sex ad nauseum. I can imagine an editor whispering in their ear "It will sell better if you add more prurient details and scenes."
And so they sacrifice good storytelling to work those in, not ever realizing that they are losing an audience even larger than the one they are trying to draw.

Edited: the book was Caravan to Xanadu: a novel of Marco Polo by Marshall. It was actually pretty good, and detailed Polo's first view of asbestos and the magnetic compass. Featured a romance, but from a male perspective, (rather clinical) since the author was also male.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Wed January 7th, 2009, 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Wed January 7th, 2009, 8:58 pm

Thanks for the details on Caravan to Xanadu. This has been on the list at HistoricalNovels.info, but I wasn't able to find much detail about it. Now I can flesh out the listing a little more.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed January 7th, 2009, 9:59 pm

You're welcome, Margaret -- but I just realized that the magnetic compass bit was actually from the Black Rose. But I definitely remember a story thread in Xanadu about the young Polo discovering that priests of a certain cult could walk through fire because of asbestos robes and shoes. As I recall, he acquired some of their gear as a gift to impress Ghengis Khan.

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Thu January 8th, 2009, 2:33 am

Cool! And you have inspired the first humor in a book listing at HistoricalNovels.info: See http://www.historicalnovels.info/Angevins.html#MP.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu January 8th, 2009, 2:39 am

That does sound wild! If I ever get time, I might write up a few descriptive clips on some of the more obscure books you have on your site -- I've always been an avid HF reader, and adding the number of years I've been doing it, I suppose that amounts to quite a few novels.

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Amanda
Compulsive Reader
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby Amanda » Thu January 8th, 2009, 2:58 am

I think I must have read that Gary Jennings book. I know I read a book about the travels of Marco Polo many years ago, and all I can recall about it is that there was a a bit of "weird sex" as you so put it Margaret. And it didn't seem to be thought of as anything terribly wrong.

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Fri January 9th, 2009, 5:56 am

Until I researched Marco Polo books for my website, I too had forgotten that The Journeyer was about him. All I remembered was the ahem, weird scene.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info


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