Son of Venice

Written by Dori Jones Yang
Review by Steve Shaw

A true romantic figure, Marco Polo captures the imagination like few others. In Son of Venice, Yang completes the story of Polo and Emmajin (granddaughter to Khubilai Kahn) as they fall in love, travel the Silk Road and eventually meet their fate at the feet of the great Khan. As they travel from the Khan to Venice, a warning is given to Polo by a shaman, and he needs to warn the army as well as Emmajin herself. Along the way, Emmajin is kidnapped and almost forced to marry the enemy, Khaidu—as a strategic move against the Khan. However, Polo sends a large fireworks display that distracts attention enough to allow her (and others) to escape. It is this act that saves his life, although he is forbidden ever to see Emmajin again.

Yang is a confident writer, who is obviously quite knowledgeable with her subject area and time frame. Continuing the crosscultural explorations of the first novel (Daughter of Xanadu), Polo and Emmajin struggle as they are immersed in her culture, and Polo is as out of his depth as Emmajin was in the earlier book. The plot switches back forth between the vantages of Polo and Emmajin, which provides a more even-handed perspective, although some of the sideline conversations could have been elaborated upon more. Maps, a family tree (indicating who is fictional) and a short glossary add to the value. Great reading, suitable for public libraries, high schools, and the adventuresome middle-schooler.