Picks and Pans Review: The Journeyer

updated 01/23/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/23/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Gary Jennings

Could this big (782 pages), preposterous historical novel be an outline for a cartoon strip? It certainly borders on the slapstick. The hero is Marco Polo, who in 1271 traveled the Silk Road from Venice to the East. Jennings apparently did exhaustive research, then felt that every single bit of interesting stuff he dug up had to be included. (He did the same thing in his earlier novel, Aztec, and the resulting clutter made reading that book an awful chore too.) Jennings has portrayed Polo as a naive young man who never grows up to be anything more than a cardboard hero. This Polo, though, is an expert at giving women pleasure in bed, especially women in pairs, from Persian princesses to twin Mongol virgins. The sex scenes are fulsomely detailed, as is everything else. This novel's tired formula of sex, sadism and violence is all too transparent. (Atheneum, $17.95)

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