© (P)1991 Jimcin Recordings; cover design © 2003 Brian J. Killavey
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"An educational experience."
This book was not what I expected. I thought it would be a narrative travelogue of the travels of Marco Polo, however it turned out to be more of a catalog of the cities and provinces he had visited. The first chapter was an introduction and provided background to the writing of his books but the subsequent chapters were just a recitation of provinces, their cities, none of which I knew or could find in my Atlas, and the nature and customs of their peoples. After about a couple of hours of this I was about to give up but when the section on the empire of Kublai Khan started I found the description of the government and the culture fascinating. The latter chapters on the region of Cathay were also a revelation to me. I had no idea of the magnitude of the civilization in this region in the 13th century. The book seemed to end abruptly with no conclusion or wrap up however I was very glad I persevered and felt that I learned much from it.
You have to be a bit of a history and travel buff combined but absolutely fascinating! To hear what Asia was like first hand in the late 1200s is great. The degree of detail amazing, also Marco P put in fascinating characters whenever he could. It may offend some, as it is written from the middle ages Christian perspective so is often quite rude about Islam and Eastern religions. However he does seem quite objective and positive about "pagan" rulers when they were doing a good job for the people they ruled. (I'm pretty sure Marco P would have been hard on the Christian Inquisition if it was his time to write about it.) I'm writing this as I load part 2, which I can't wait to listen to.
"What are you looking for?"
This book and recording is a valuable item...except I want to warn against expectations.
I expected a near romantic account of starry nights on the silk trail, cumbersome caravans and exotic cultures. This is not a story nor a poetic journal. Make no mistake, this a catalog of cultures, almost scientifically explained...you will hear of 'idolators' who are 'also in the service of the Great Kahn' about seventy times as it seems to pertain to almost every culture he visits.
Good, incredible material but this is not the stuff of entertainment, it is the stuff of research. It is read well and easy to follow.
"May I present to you… your map?"
Number ten on the National Geographic list of top one hundred adventure books.
I have already.
To all you frustrated people who wish the audiobook had a map, well, how can you hear a map? If you want to look at a map, one wonders what trouble you encountered when you suggested that your web browser furnish you with one to look at. My browser found a just fine one for me, unencumbered by copyright restrictions. I put it in the same directory in my mobile device and in my desktop computer. Give the whining a rest, eh?
Starts out a little dull, but picks up after a bit, when the descriptions of the Grand Khan and his lands start up. The narration is somewhat monotonous, and droning. The story is interesting, but would be more so if your understanding of the ancient names of the places is complete enough to apply it to the modern ones. I, myself, never knew precisely what place he was discussing. History and geography buffs would like this better than I did.
"Facinating but not very engrossing"
It's a recant of the travel not really a story or adventure which would have been more interesting
"It is a great pice of work"
Even with all the mysteries and questions that exist around the figure of Marco Polo, on the existence and veracity of what supposedly dictated to his amanuensis, Rustichello of Pisa, or if Rustichello get carried away by hes own imagination. This is a fantastic work that allows us to awaken our imagination to visualize how could be the medieval Asia, that was visit by Marco, even though Marco omitted ovais things of the customs of China (Cathay and Mangi) as the characters of Chinese writing, printing or chopsticks. but he discussed other aspects of the life in Asia, such as paper currency, the Grand Canal, the structure of the Mongol army, a large number of animals including tigers and panthers, the existence of Japan (Cipango) and the system of the imperial postal.
The facts that have captured my imagination are the descriptions of deserts, the great battles, description of places like Island of Women or the Isle of Man, trade routes such as the silk route, the way armies organized before a battle, the vastness of deserts, as well as the extension of the cities that came to be more than a million and a half inhabitants. Or the opulence in which the rulers lived, also the descriptions of palaces and harems and the tragic way women were elected for the harems. Or the women warriors who only marry with the man who was able to defeat them in combat. Or as he explains acupuncture and hospitals.Other things that have like me, are the supernatural stories like those of Prester John, or the acts of levitation, telekinesis, Mirages, evil spirits, weather manipulation; all these phenomena made by Geniuses, Monks, Shamans, Healers, Demons and a great etc.
I find it disconcerting that are not important the description of the behavior as we headed south of the Star Polar or North Star, and how he explain their movement geting close to the horizon or even disappears. For me this is a great point for Marco because as merchant had sailed enough to have heard of this phenomenon and not have to discuss it as something that surprises him.
"difficult to follow"
One might enjoy this narrative more with a map of the "Silk Road." It is difficult to figure out where Marco is describing most of the time as place names have changed so very much.
"The Travels of Marco polo"
I Just finished Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. It is by far the most fascinating bit of history i have ever read. I assumed because they mentioned Marco Polo a lot in Genghis Khan that his book would be a good read. So far i`m finding it horrendous . Boring boring boring.
Sorry Marco Polo
"Needs a map - badly!"
I have seen some audiobooks have a pdf associated to them that can be downloaded. This book badly needs to have such pdf. We badly need a map to follow along, otherwise it is very frustating not to be able to relate to which country Marco Polo is talking about. I have to say that even though some of the stories are interesting, it is one of those books which I had trouble to stay connected to (my mind kept wandering) because there is a lot of repetition from one chapter to the next... length of travel, religion of the people of the place, etc.
This should have been a fascinting listen, however it was completely ruined by the boring american monotone used by the narrator - a voice which would be more suited to the educational cartoons of the 60s and 70s! I gave up.
If you have watched the film then prepare yourself for a disappointment. The content is boring which is matched by the robotic voice of the reader.
Something by Charles Dickens
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