©2007 Conn Iggulden; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Brilliantly imagined and addictive....Iggulden weaves a spellbinding story of an exotic and 'unforgiving land' and the enigmatic young man - charismatic, a brilliant tactician and capable 'of utter ruthlessness' - who sets out to tame it. This is historical fiction of the first order." (Publishers Weekly)
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I don’t think most modern people really appreciate how powerful the Mongol Empire was. It defeated the Chinese, who had the mightiest civilization of the day, and did the medieval equivalent of a blitzkrieg through European forces that got in its way (luckily for Europe, internal strife in the empire put an end to plans for a full-scale invasion).
In this historical novel, Conn Iggulden attempts to tell the personal story of the legendary figure who made all that possible: Tejumin, AKA Genghis Khan. The book begins with Tejumin’s birth and childhood among the nomadic steppe people, when the Mongols were still a collection of disunified tribes, and explores his formative experiences and rise to respected war leader.
Where the book sticks closely to history, it’s pretty riveting. Iggulden gives a good portrayal of life among a barbarian people, where strength, honor, loyalty, and reputation are everything (along with horses), and the environment is punishing of weakness. I can’t fault him for his grasp of sensory details, either -- I felt like I was right there on the steppes, with the bitter Mongolian winter winds, the pounding of horse hooves, the smell of mutton grease, and the flapping of hide tent covers.
However, the novel’s strengths are not in character development, plotting, or dialog. It’s possible the author was trying not to take too many creative liberties with his sources, but if so, I wish he’d taken a few more. As it is, there’s not much to the story than Tejumin’s desire for revenge, allies, and building a bigger reputation, and other major characters have little to do besides make declarations of support or try to thwart him. At times, the drama reads like C grade fantasy. If Iggulden has thoughts on the suffering of the people on the receiving end of the Mongols’ slaughter, pillage, enslavement, and rape, they don’t rate more than a few sentences here and there. He seems to identify more with the leadership qualities he perceives in Genghis.
In sum, not quite as good of a book as I’d hoped, but one I still enjoyed. The audiobook narrator does a good job, reading in a Homeric voice that makes the stilted dialogue a little less noticeable.
This is the back story on the famous and infamous Genghis Khan. I thought I was getting the typical historical fiction novel, a little history a little fiction to liven things up. Not so. He is much more of a story teller than Alison Wier, more like McMurty or Galbadon with his character development. There is a richness here that so many story tellers lack today.
Iggulden's tale gives us an in depth picture of what life was like for the boy Tamogen and the impossible and hellish odd's he had to overcome to unite the Mongol tribes and become The Khan of Khan's. We feel the steps of China and fear the Tartars. We get heat from the bodies of the horses. We understand how a yurt works. We learn about tribal laws and functions. It's a quick read and worth every minute.
Rudnicki's raspy voice was a little hard for me at the beginning but overall I thought it was a good fit for the time and place of the story. A rough voice for a brutal time.
My husband "read" the story too and liked as much as I did.
This one is a win win.
I love historical books, fiction or non-fiction. This book drew me in right from the beginning. The author made you feel as if you were there. I wanted the story to continue. Just found out that it does!!! Can't wait to listen to them.
I really enjoyed this book. The early years of Genghis Khan were totally unknown to me. This is a work of historical fiction but as the author says in the prologue he has used the best history available and done his research. The things he changed were minor and the story itself is a page turner. The only thing I knew about Genghis Khan was that he was a warlord of Huns that attacked and won against the great wall of China. This book has nothing to do with that, but is of his younger years. So interesting and scary that a young boy should endure this life. A good read you should not miss.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Caesar series. However, I found books 1 and 2 in the Genghis series to be much less compelling. While the writing is equally as good, the characters, (Temujin/Genghis in particular) are very one-dimensional. Perhaps this is an accurate rendering of the Khan's single minded drive for brutal conquest but I'm not sure that in the 21st century I need this much detail. Khan is depicted as a ruthless and hell-bent despot who cares not a whit for any one or any thing other than dominance of his enemy. After two books, I think I've had enough of that. I get the point of how one of history's greatest murderers conquered millions of peoples yet there's very little in these first two books to make me reflect on anything relating to a contemporary context or the motivations of a complicated character that makes me want to read (listen) to books three and four.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
I enjoyed this book about the early years of Genghis Khan but not as much as I hoped. Maybe it was because Temujin (as he is called) was so young and it was hard for me to be interested in his early life. I think I will try another of Mr. Iggulden's books before I skip the rest of these. He does write on things I am interested in.
Stefan Rudnicki was the narrator of this book did a fine job.
The story revolves around a young Temujin, his mother and his four brothers and baby sister surviving in the wilderness after their father was murdered by rivals.
Temujin grows as a leader and by the end of the tale he is poised to unite all the tribes under one ruler. There are good fighting scenes and gruesome descriptions of rituals and healings that were par for the course in those days.
If I was to compare this book with a book by Bernard Cornwell it would not even compare. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I didn't care enough for the characters in this story to give it higher than a three.
yes yes yes - the story was fantastic, and I cannot praise Stefan Rudnicki enough.
This: blood mixed with mare's milk. :: shudder :: Also, the quest for the eagle, the constant struggle on the steppes, and Temujin's strength of character.
Loved this history of Genghis Khan. What a guy!
I have read other histories and know that things aren't exactly correct in this telling, however, it is well worth the read.
I've been interested in Mongolia, had heard the myths about Genghis Khan, and was glad to read an extended story about him. It paints him in a different light than the common attitude, and helps to explain why modern Mongolians consider him to be a national hero.
Many scenes still stick in my mind: obtaining, then losing the eagle; the early privileges, being shunned, building community and power, invading China.
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