Subtitled “Jews with Swords,” Chabon writes an adventure story of a pair of Jewish adventurers in the year 995: one from Frankish Europe and another a black African. They have wandered into the Caucuses only to find themselves enmeshed in battles among Azeris, Kyrghs, and Kazahks. The story would be fun and funny if Chabon weren’t so in love with his own erudition. His paragraphs are as dense as ironwood and pages become as thick as nighttime forests. Matters were made worse because I listened to a recorded version read by one of the worst performers ever to record a voice. December 2008.