I cannot recommend this book enough to people who are fans of tackling the connection between the sticky parts of "cultural norms" and religion. Beyond the epic backdrop of an expanding Venetian trade empire, and the otherworldly descriptions of daily life in Pegu, Morrow manages to find some truly bigger issues to examine with a new lens. Through the journals of a Abraham, Jewish, Venican jewel trader, you are left wondering at the significance of traditions - both religious and cultural, as well as what the true ramifications of change in society mean to those who keep traditions.
Counterbalancing a very masculine, western narrator is the other protagonist of the story,Mya a native woman of Pegu, who fate land in the life of the protagonist. Her tale of tragedy, love and joy is very much tied to Abraham's trials and choices - something which creates a delightful mix of linguistics, ancient tradition, and spirituality. A truly inspired and open dialog occurs which examines the connections and differences between Buddhism and Judiasm, as well as the core truths each of those faiths correspond to in the hearts off their believers.
Tying these ethereal components of the story together is some very acute social commentary on the nature of government and corruption, and the significance of family in the face of drastic change. Hantover does a fantastic job of drawing the reader in - I was barely able to put the book down, once I got past the first chapter.
It is released in January. Too late for Christmas, but definitely something to spend your gift cards on.
I got hold of this book through the Advance Reader program at Librarything. I am not getting any monies or incentives from either Mr. Hantover, William Morrow, or Harper Collins for writing this review - I just wanted to share the experience I had reading it with y'all.