Balthasar's Odyssey

by Amin Maalouf | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0099452081 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Fellraven of Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on 1/5/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
17 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Monday, January 05, 2004
Another book I acquired in one of those 3 for the price of 2 offers and one I'm looking forward to reading.

Journal Entry 2 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 04, 2004
What do you do when you briefly hold in your hand and then lose a legendary book reputed to contain the secret name of God which will protect you against the pending Apocalypse? If you're anything like Balthasar, the hero of this one, you kick yourself and then go chasing it around Europe.

It took a few dozen pages to get into but after that I was hooked and thoroughly enjoyed it. An easy to read but erudite novel which left me wondering what became of a number of the other characters he met on his travels. This is the first book I've read by Maalouf but it certainly won't be the last.

Journal Entry 3 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Monday, May 10, 2004
Sent by post today to Skyrider. The bookring is afoot!

Journal Entry 4 by Skyrider from Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 11, 2004
It's arrived — that was fast!

I know they say that you can't judge a book by its cover, but I love the jacket artwork. Let's hope I like the book as much. I'll journal my thoughts when I'm done.

Journal Entry 5 by Skyrider from Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Monday, May 24, 2004
Well, I thought this was a splendid book, but it's maddeningly difficult to jot down any thoughts on it without spoiling it for people who haven't read it yet. This is mainly because incidents which happen keep throwing the main protagonist (a collector of curios called Balthasar Embriaco) in an entirely different direction — to describe what happens halfway through the book gives away what has happened a quarter way through. Unfortunately the rubric on the back of the book hasn't been well thought out in this regard and gives away one of Balthasar's destinations which it would be better not to know in advance.

So if I can't preçis the story, what can I say about it? Well, Maalouf manages to skillfully interweave elements of a historical romance, a swashbuckling adventure and an insightful philosophical treatise into a single tome, and manages to do it in such a way that you can pick and choose which of these elements you want to dwell on. The language is lyrical and the historical and mythical references demonstrate how well-read the author is — but he manages to do this without either being heavy or showing off. There is the odd anachonism which grates a bit (would a seventeenth century salesman really talk about the smell of ozone?) but these may well be artefacts of translation (the book was originally written in French).

Maalouf is a meticulous observer of human nature — so many of the details he provides make his account feel true to life, yet these are the same small details that most of us miss in everyday existence.

It also seems very appropriate that a BookCrossing book begins with the main character chasing a book across half the known world!

So Balthasar's Odyssey gets two thumbs up. If I had three hands, it would get a third but for now two and a toe will have to do.

I'll be sending it on to gerenggat later today.

Journal Entry 6 by gerenggat on Monday, May 31, 2004
Just come back from a long weekend in Norway, and there is a bookcrossing book waiting for me. Thanks Skyrider and Fellraven :-)

Journal Entry 7 by gerenggat on Sunday, July 04, 2004
What an interesting book! I thoroughly enjoyd reading this book, even though I found the diary format sometimes didn't give me enough information about the different characters Balthasar meets on his journey. I liked very much how the book is able to show that even a learned man with common sense scepticism can fall victim to doubts and rumours if there are only enough people around him who are frightend and easily influenced. I suppose that this has always been the case with mankind?
Thank you Fellraven for sharing this book. I think this story will make me think for some time to come :-)

Released on Wednesday, July 07, 2004 at Surface mail in Controlled Release, Controlled Release Controlled Releases.

Posted to Sweden.

Journal Entry 9 by ecmwfinswe on Monday, July 19, 2004
The book came in my mail today. Thanks for sending the book and thanks for the nice postcard gerenggat! Carpe Diem!

Journal Entry 10 by ecmwfinswe on Tuesday, September 07, 2004
A fascinating tale and what a journey! Read the book and enjoy! Sending it to nightstar in Belgium this week.

Journal Entry 11 by Nightstar on Sunday, September 19, 2004
thanks ecmwfinswe!
for the book and for the postcard ;)

the book arrived safely and I already started reading a little

Journal Entry 12 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Monday, January 24, 2005
Received safely back from Nightstar in Belgium (many thanks!) and now destined for an international bookray starting Down Under.

Usual rules apply:

1. PM me with your location and postal preferences if you wish to take part. Please be prepared to ship internationally (surface mail is perfectly OK). I will try to accommodate anyone who has problems with sending international post, but if the problem cannot be resolved you may not be able to join the bookray.

2. Read and forward the book within 4 weeks of receipt if possible, otherwise 6 weeks.

3. Journal the book on receipt, again with your review when you've finished reading it and finally when you post it to the next reader. If anything crops up to delay your reading it within the expected timeframe (eg, illness, family crisis etc) please make another entry so everyone knows what's going on.


1. Ada2 (North Avoca, NSW)
2. miss-gonewest (Perth, WA)
3. sabavana (Sydney, NSW)
4. SweetPetunia (Sydney, NSW)
5. Catsalive (Sydney, NSW)
6. Auglaise (Cardiff, UK)
7. Beloved49 (Lynbrook, NY, USA)
8. pjmom8025 (Brooklyn Park, MN, USA)
9. elf-all-alones (Henderson, NC, USA)
10. sqdancer (Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada)
11. Rico-Verde (Leesburg, FL, USA) <--- This ray completed (22nd August 2006)

Journal Entry 13 by Fellraven from Redditch, Worcestershire United Kingdom on Saturday, January 29, 2005
Posted to Ada2 by Printed Papers Airmail today. Should arrive within a week or so. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 14 by Ada2 from North Avoca, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, February 17, 2005
How exciting to be first on this bookray!

I've been wanting to read this book for a very long time, so I can't wait! I have a couple in line before it, but shouldn't be too long......

Journal Entry 15 by Ada2 from North Avoca, New South Wales Australia on Monday, April 04, 2005
Despite my very best intentions I have not been able to finish this book. It's terrific, and what I've read I've really enjoyed, but I have so much other stuff on that I have little reading time and I'm feeling pressured and anxious about holding up bookrays! So I'm sending it on to miss-gonewest as soon as I have her details.
Thanks Fellraven for sharing. Sorry I haven't been able to participate as well as I would have liked!

Journal Entry 16 by miss-gonewest from Perth City, Western Australia Australia on Thursday, April 28, 2005
Little Balthasar has landed safely in my mailbox - many thanks to Ada2 for posting him on. And many thanks for the post-it note on the back cover hiding the spoilers - I will really appreciate that once I start reading this.

I have one book to finish and another in front of this, but thanks to the weather gods, it could be a great weekend for reading as we are expecting "thundery showers" all weekend!

Thanks for letting me be part of this ring - I'll be back with my thoughts.

Update 26th May:
Just to let you all know that I still have this book & still have yet to complete it... I am so sorry for holding it up, but I have just had a few busy weeks at work that have prevented me from enjoying snuggly nights in with this book (so rude, I know!).

I am a third of the way through & enjoying it very much - I will try to get through the rest of it this weekend and have it back on its travels soon.

Update 10th June:
Look, I am just not meant to read this book!!! After delaying with it, I have just found myself in the midst of a relationship breakup and no matter how much I want to read this, I just can't settle down and enjoy it. So rather than hold it up any longer, I am passing it along to the next reader. I am hoping to have another chance to read this if it ever travels back Down Under.

I will post this along asap. So sorry for holding it up!

Journal Entry 17 by Sabavana from Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales Australia on Monday, June 27, 2005
Received safe and sound in my mailbox today - thanks for posting miss-gonewest :-)
This is for OH to read, will ask him to write a review when he's done.

Journal Entry 18 by Sabavana from Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, August 28, 2005
I usually avoid 'journal' or 'diary' fiction, and now I remember why.
An interesting premise, but I didn't really enjoy the book. Our Hero and most of his supporting cast are somewhat hard to get to like, and whilst I'm sure Maalouf has painted an accurate picture of life in the 17th century, I found the narrative boring as well.
Sabavana's OH.

Journal Entry 19 by Sabavana from Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, August 28, 2005
Apologies for holding onto this book longer than usual, it'll be on it's way to SweetPetunia tomorrow.

Journal Entry 20 by SweetPetunia from Ruse, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, September 04, 2005
It seems that my journal entry about receiving this book didn't 'register' on the site as was pointed out by Sabavana today, so here it is.

Received last week, Wednesday 31st August, I think.

I have to agree with Sabavana's OH, I am not enjoying this story much at all, in fact, after reading the first few chapters I skipped right to the end. I won't hold up this book's travels. As soon as I received an address from Catsalive Balthasar will continue his Odyssey.

Journal Entry 21 by catsalive from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Monday, September 19, 2005
One of four bookrings to arrive today. It must be Monday. Just when I thought I was catching up too. Sigh!

Journal Entry 22 by catsalive from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, September 29, 2005
I have tried but I just can't get into this. I've managed 100 pages & I'm not going to force myself any further. Balthasar will be better of with someone who appreciates him more so I have PMd Auglaise & will send him on as soon as I receive an address.

Thanks for the opportunity Fellraven.

Journal Entry 23 by catsalive from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, September 29, 2005
Posted to Auglaise this morning.

Journal Entry 24 by Auglaise from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Thursday, October 20, 2005
Received last week, but didn't get a chance to journal. Am almost finished, and really enjoying it so far!

Journal Entry 25 by Auglaise from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, November 06, 2005
I really enjoyed this, although I didn't find it very easy to get into. I think part of that was that I'd just finished reading the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books by Laurell K. Hamilton and they're very very different books from this one.

Thank you for letting me read it!

Journal Entry 26 by Beloved49 from Lynbrook, New York USA on Monday, December 12, 2005
12/12/05 This is a ring book received from UK, fellow member FellRaven. Looks good.

Journal Entry 27 by Beloved49 from Lynbrook, New York USA on Thursday, December 29, 2005
Sorry it took me so long to finish this wonderful book but with baking and shopping for Christmas....
I was hooked from the beginning. I feel as if I've been around the world looking for , what else, Books. Balthasar could have been a member of BC. I'll let you figure that one out for yourself. A very easy and interesting book. Thanks for sharing Fellraven
I am waiting for pjmom8025 address. Then it's off to MD.

Journal Entry 28 by ID20080001 on Saturday, January 21, 2006
Balthasar journey ended in my mail box. I will read it soon as I have one book ahead of it. I hope to have a better relationship than others.

Journal Entry 29 by ID20080001 on Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I haven't quite finished this yet. I am finding Balthasar's odyssey to be too long. I have about 50 pages left. I have for the most part enjoyed the trip, but Maalouf slowed down the progress towards the end.

I am planning on shipping it to the next participant by Friday.

Journal Entry 30 by elf-all-alones from Hendersonville, North Carolina USA on Sunday, February 12, 2006
This just arrived in the mail. I am looking froward to reading it. It must be the medieval Islam week because my mother is reading Vathek, but that is further south and
earlier and written by an English man. Funny how things collide.

The pages around 233 are getting loose. Shall we tape or let them be.

Journal Entry 31 by lucybrown from Laurel Park, North Carolina USA on Monday, April 17, 2006
We enjoyed this book very much. I will say more later, as will elf; however now we are battling a willful computer that has been loaned to us since ours died.

Mostly, right now my goal is to get the book back on its way.

More! We loved this book. What an adventure.
For some reason I was reminded of An Instance of the Fingerpost. The book is such a rich tapestry of adventure, quest, love and lore that it is hard to know what to say. A real treat.

Journal Entry 32 by lucybrown at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Released 12 yrs ago (5/31/2006 UTC) at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



This was actually released a while ago, but computer was and and down so I didn't do this. I am surprised it hasn't reached its new lodgings and am becoming worried.

Journal Entry 33 by sqdancer on Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Has arrived safe and sound. I'll start on it tomorrow.

Thanks for sharing, Fellraven.


Very enjoyable. Another book that I probably would have missed out on without bookcrossing!

Journal Entry 34 by Rico-Verde from Leesburg, Florida USA on Saturday, August 12, 2006
Got it today. 80 pages in and enjoying it very much. Thanks Fellraven et al.
Finished today. Enjoyed it very much. Found it easy to read, compelling and fun. A good, light adventure story with fascinating historical context. I would certainly read another by Maalouf. Recommended.
Note: There seems to be a mistake (of sorts) on the map. The Scutari that Balthazar visits is not the Albanian one. See wikipedia enty:

The odyssey continues:

1. cestmoi
2. lauraloo29
3. dagett
4. Alvhyttan
5. clw204
6. Mochagirl

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