I began reading this in an Italian class I took. I loved it because the words flowed like poetry. Even though I didn’t understand a lot of it at first, the sounds were incredibly beautiful. The last time I was at the library I picked it up in English and read through it that afternoon. I think it lost something in the translation (as many works do), but it was still a very interesting story with beautiful prose. Certain sections were repeated, which lent the story a certain rhythm, as the protagonist traveled and passed the years.

I have been working through this book for an embarrassingly long time. I think it’s because the sections are so short and self contained that I can read them one by one. I haven’t had a lot of spare time lately, so it scratches the itch to read something, but at one page at a time, it doesn’t satisfy the need to complete the book. The premise is a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan as Khan’s empire is falling. Polo tells him stories about the cities of the empire, none of which could exist literally and all of which are named after women. So far, one of the most striking has been Octavia, the spiderweb city, suspended between two mountain peaks on thick ropes and chains.

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