Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio

This was Lloyd Alexander's final book he wrote before he passed away so I felt a little sentimental reading it.  He is definitely a beloved author of mine and I hoped that it would be genuine Alexander goodness.  It has a lot of his trademarks: a ne'er-do-well hero on a quest, a feisty, quick-tempered love interest, a journey that is more than it seems and ruthless, cutthroat villains (led by one particularly ruthless, cutthroat villain). 

Slight spoiler alert...The story concerns a lazy dreamer, Carlo, who discovers a treasure map in the back of a book of fairy tales.  After his hardworking uncle tosses him out because of one mishap too many, Carlo decides that it is the perfect opportunity to find the treasure on the "Road of Golden Dreams."  Along the way he joins up with a diverse cast of characters, chief among them, the fiery Shira, the wise Salamon and Baksheesh, a smooth-talking conman who ends up having a heart of gold.  Of course, Carlo also manages to make mortal enemies and endanger his life and the lives of his companions but, like all Alexander's books, it has the happy, "everything turns out for the best" ending. 

I enjoyed this book; Alexander is brilliant at creating a world that is at once intriguing in its foreignness and then comfortable in its familiarity.  However, I thought the characters lacked the spark of those in his other marvelous books: The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, The Arcadians, The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian, etc.  Also, there was a bit more "moral" than in his other books and the adventure didn't have as much suspense and humor as some of his others.  Yet, it was still an engrossing read and I would certainly recommend it. 
 But I'd also recommend picking up a copy of Sebastian on the same trip...

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