Baudolino is the title and name of main character in the newest Umberto Eco novel. Taking the reader back to one of his favorite scenarios, late XII century Europe, the book captivates with novelty, that goes in a crescendo towards its end.

Starting at a small countryside, in Baudolino's childhood, Baudolino excels already at what he does best: lying. And is with his early lies that he gets the trust of Frederick Barbarossa. Therefore, he becomes a kind of Forrest Gump character, being behind much of the historical facts of that time. For that matter, the historical facts that take place in the book's history are accurate, but, behind the scenes,there was the lies of Baudolino leading to them.

As the characters in the book travel east, in a quest related with the holy grail, towards the kingdon of the Prester John the events, encounters and lands described become more and more fantastic. It does not differ of the records brought to us by Marco Polo in that matter. Whoever reads his writings will find similar fantastic and unbelievable people in the far east.

Just after reading it, I read an academic book on the crusades, covering the same period. Eco's job flesh out the era in a way these more academic texts just can't do, when it comes down to the living in cities, the nature of the conflicts of the German Emperor with the Catholic Church or with the City States located where modern Italy would be.

Therefore, I recommend not just as an excellent reading, but as a must for anyone who have this feeling that what he knows about that time and place is just too dry, or lacking details.