I think that many of us, at one time or another, have wondered about what marvelously interesting lives some of the greats of history have experienced, and felt somewhat diminished by the every day everyday of our own lives. A read of Marco Polo's travels will provide all of the, 'escape into the great unknown', that anyone could ever desire, amid page after page of why we should be careful what we wish for...... We may get it! It is a fascinating read, and well worth the lector's voyage, however, don't be surprised if, among the strange strangeness, the reader (and Marco Polo) seem to become somewhat bored with the trip and just want to tap one's ruby slippers together and go home. This too is part of Marco Polo's tale. He left Italy as a pie-eyed adolescent, and grew to manhood amid Persian caravansari, Tamerlane's glory that was Samarquand, the endless bleakness of the Taklamakand Desert, the fantasies of the Mongol court of China, and the palace life of the south seas. How does one return from a trip like that, especially when it has literally made one into what one has become.
Such is the nature of Marco Polo's post voyage travel log. It opens panaramas in time and space before the reader and allows one to see them with the eyes of a child awakening to adulthood. Curiousity becomes a way of life, and every thing learned is one more chance to survive on the road to the next adventure.
The weakness in this work is the shoddy quality of the historical plates of nonsense interpretations of what Marco Polo saw, as seen through the eyes of an Italian engraver who never traveled further than the next Italian town. High quality plates of well researched historical images of what Marco Polo saw would have been far more interesting. Baring that, no images would have improved it.