Conn Igguldens novels are grand historical tales of conquest and vengeance, cruelty and greatness. Now the acclaimed author of Genghis: Birth of an Empire delivers a masterful new novel of the mighty Mongol conqueroras Genghis Khan sets out to unify an entire continent under his rule.
He came from over the horizon, a single Mongol warrior surrounded by his brothers, sons, and fellow tribesmen. With each battle his legend grew and the ranks of his horsemen swelled, as did his ambition. For centuries, primitive tribes had warred with one another. Now, under Genghis Khan, they have united as one nation, setting their sights on a common enemy: the great, slumbering walled empire of the Chin.
A man who lived for battle and blood, Genghis leads his warriors across the Gobi Desert and into a realm his people had never seen beforewith gleaming cities, soaring walls, and canals. Laying siege to one fortress after another, Genghis called upon his cunning and imagination to crush each enemy in a different way, to overcome moats, barriers, deceptions, and superior firepoweruntil his army faced the ultimate test of all.
In the city of Yenkingmodern-day Beijingthe Chin will make their final stand, setting a trap for the Mongol raiders, confident behind their towering walls. But Genghis will strike with breathtaking audacity, never ceasing until the Emperor himself is forced to kneel.
In the summer dusk, the encampment of the Mongols stretched for miles in every direction, the great gathering still dwarfed by the plain in the shadow of the black mountain. Ger tents speckled the landscape as far as the eye could see, and around them thousands of cooking fires lit the ground. Beyond those, herds of ponies, goats, sheep, and yaks stripped the ground of grass in their constant hunger. Each dawn saw them driven away to the river and good grazing before returning to the gers. Though Genghis guaranteed the peace, tension and suspicion grew each day. None there had seen such a host before, and it was easy to feel hemmed in by the numbers. Insults imaginary and real were exchanged as all felt the pressure of living too close to warriors they did not know. In the evenings, there were many fights between the young men, despite the prohibition. Each dawn found one or two bodies of those who had tried to settle an old score or grudge. The ...
Not much of the book is devoted to character development. The reader isn't really given insight into Genghis's thought processes and motivations. There's very little here that suggests the charisma the real-life Genghis must have possessed to unite the nomadic tribes under one rule. Other characters are equally one-dimensional. The dialog, too, is stilted - a bit like what you'd expect from a Conan movie. Much of it is over the top, particularly the motivational speeches (along the lines of "We will kill all the men and delight in the weeping of their women!"). These flaws, however, do little to diminish the overall appeal of the book.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1142 words).
The Yasa of Genghis Khan
As Genghis Khan consolidated the nomadic tribes of the Asian steppe, he realized that a consistent rule of law was necessary to maintain order. He accomplished this by creating his "Yasa" (or "Yassa"), a comprehensive set of rules governing nearly all aspects of Mongolian life and culture. The original Yasa ("decree" or "order") is thought to have been written on scrolls bound into volumes, and kept in a secret archive to which only the khan and his advisers had access, but the rules were widely known and observed, and in many cases were adopted by rival cultures. They codified religious tolerance and social equality, which helped promote peace between the diverse peoples who made up the ...
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