|Genghis: Birth of an Empire
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He was born Temujin, the son of a khan, raised in a clan of hunters migrating across the rugged steppe. Temujin’s young life was shaped by a series of brutal acts: the betrayal of his father by a neighboring tribe and the abandonment of his entire family, cruelly left to die on the harsh plain. But Temujin endured—and from that moment on, he was driven by a singular fury: to survive in the face of death, to kill before being killed, and to conquer enemies who could come without warning from beyond the horizon.
Through a series of courageous raids against the Tartars, Temujin’s legend grew. And so did the challenges he faced—from the machinations of a Chinese ambassador to the brutal abduction of his young wife, Borte. Blessed with ferocious courage, it was the young warrior’s ability to learn, to imagine, and to judge the hearts of others that propelled him to greater and greater power. Until Temujin was chasing a vision: to unite many tribes into one, to make the earth tremble under the hoofbeats of a thousand warhorses, to subject unknown nations and even empires to his will.
From the Hardcover edition.
- One of the Best
Conn Iggulden has written one of the best historical novels I've ever read. To be honest, I hate most novels and rarely finish them because they either become too stupid, too boring or both. I couldn't get enough of Genghis, though, and was sad when it was over. It ranks up there with Byzantium (Stephen Lawhead) and Isle of Stone (Nicastro).
Here's what I liked about Genghis:
1) Like Isle of Stone, maintained otherworldliness throughout. Never did it seem like the author just plopped some 21st century Americans (or Brits) onto the Asian steppes and called them Mongols. These Mongols seemed like Mongols.
2) Like Byzantium, the book told a story from page one. Very tightly focused, never wandered into pointless descriptions of domestic life. Boring meanderings were quickly reined in.
3) Women characters didn't ruin the book (as they usually do). Until authors feel confident writing convincing women characters in historical fiction, they should lay off it, as Iggulden does here. It was a close-run thing though. Part 2 of the book begins to drag as it looks like he plans to change the focus to the mother and wife characters. Fortunately, this is a short-lived left turn and the book gets its focus back before too much damage is done. Interestingly, the mother and wife characters seem to disappear in the 2nd half of the book. I'm betting there are a lot of anachronistic domestic scenes laying where they belong -- on the cutting room floor.
The only bad thing:
1) the wife character saved herself for Genghis. This is laughably outrageous, pure Hollywood contrivance. Again, no permanent damage done here. Probably lots of this stuff edited out.
This book is far and away better than the author's Caesar books, so much so you wonder if they're written by the same guy. Huge improvement. I like the trajectory of Iggulden's skill and I can't wait to read the next in the series....more info
I was expecting a good read as I am a fan of the Mongol Conquest. This book seems to just drag on and on. I had just finished reading Gemmell Troy series (Excellent)and had high hopes. This book is just BORING. I only resd it when I go do laundry!!...more info
This is the first book I've read by Conn Iggulden and I enjoyed it immensely. Well researched, vividly written and difficult to put down. He has captured what it must have felt like to live in such difficult times and to persevere. I eagerly look forward to the other books in this triology....more info
- Enthralling and entertaining
I bought this in England three months ago, where it is also (like Australia) known as The Wolf of the Plains. Fast moving, accessible novelization of the early life of Genghis. Admirers of Iggulden's "Julius Caesar" series will enjoy the style, and recognize a similar broad structure of the book - the childhood and coming-of-age of the future warrior/king, the early training, the devastating hardships that create the man to be. The overarching cultural background is portrayed well - though I don't know enough to vouch for its accuracy - the characters are all credible, and well developed. The book certainly leaves the reader looking forward to the next installment....more info
- Outstanding historical fiction
I also read this in its original launch avatar as Wolf of the Plains in Singapore. It is simply a brilliant book- but then, for anyone who has read his Emperor series, this is what one has come to expect of this author. I really look forward to the rest of the series....more info
- Entertaining fiction with inpressive historical background
I generally prefer non-fiction history but this book was an exception. Conn Iggulden obviously did his research carefully before crafting a novel with a historical background during a time and place not often visited by writers. Genghis: Birth of an Empire takes the reader inside the world of perhaps the most savage and effective warlord ever known, and does it with clarity and compassion.
That said, I had a problem with some of the dialogue and personal relationships. Some seemed too domesticated for a man existing in an era that was anything but tame. It was a bit of a reach for me to understand a man who consistently displayed such tenderness for friends, family, friends and pets before embarking on vicious encounters during which he killed his own brother, led raids that terminated with rapes and vicious murders, and conducted stealth missions focused on disemboweling a sleeping adversary. I would expect a man like Genghis Khan to be a bit more unruly in his normal life. I also suspect that the weather and terrain would have been more extreme in that part of the world than depicted by the author. The outdoor scenes were never really portrayed as being particularly debilitating.
I found the descriptions of battle scenes, armoring, weaponry and tactics to be well written with authenticity and credibility. The story moved along, although the ending was obviously aimed at a sequel, making it somewhat flimsy. All in all, this book can be recommended for those who enjoy good historical fiction about a turbulent time. Personal impressions of the man remain to be formed by the reader, which might be what Iggulden intended in the first place.
- 'I am the land and the bones of the hills. I am the winter.'
Published as 'Wolf of the Plains' in Australia, this is an action-packed story of Temujin-Uge and his making as Ghengis Khan. Conn Iggulden advises that he used an English translation (from Chinese) of 'The Secret History of the Mongols' as his chief source.
Mongolia was, and remains, a harsh place. Genghis Khan forged an empire by uniting Mongol tribes. This novel is about the boy who became the man, and the vision and blood debts that motivated and sustained him.
No doubt, some readers will find the story brutal. It is. But at the same time, it creates a wonderful backdrop against which to view the emergence of the Mongol empire. In short, it brings the figure of Genghis Khan to life.
I understand that this is the first of a series on Genghis Khan and his descendants. I look forward to reading the next book.
'Tell them that I am Genghis and I will ride'
Jennifer Cameron-Smith...more info
- It's Good But Not Rome...
The story of the beginnings of Khan and his reign are good, make no mistake...but they lack the mesmerizing factor of Iggluden's earlier works on ROME...the Emporer Series...I feel there was much more for him to write on that subject, after the death of Julius Caesar, and I am disappointed that he chose to drop that vein and move to something so unlike it.
Please...give us more of the Roman sage
- Breathtaking Historical Fiction!
Another triumph for Conn Iggulden, this fist novel in the Conqueror Trilogy is a true joy to read, in fact i read the whole book in one sitting. I think this series as well as his previous work will make Iggulden by far one of the best writers of historical fiction out there today.
Wolf Of Plains is a complex and intriguing story that follows the life and times of one of histories most famous or notorious characters Genghis Khan. We start at the beginning, a small boy named Temujin the son of the leader of the Wolf tribe one of the many brutal tribes of the steppes who are always at war with each other. During this book we'll see the trials and tribulations of a young boy growing into manhood during perilous times for his tribe and family, he'll see the end of his father and live through being cast out by the tribe so him and his family are left starving, he'll build armies to avenge his father and bring the Mongol people to his cause.
If you love history and a well written book then this trilogy is definitely for you. ...more info
- Excellent Read
I really liked this. I'll need to research and see how close it goes to real Genghis Khan history, but the hardships of the family when cast out were memorable. I recommend this for the historical fiction crowd like myself who likes a good dose of action....more info
- Brilliant Historical Fiction
Brilliantly written. Conn tells a imaginative and invigorating tale. Genghis comes alive in the telling. His brilliance and tactical genius flow from the pages. You can't help but to become entranced by the story. It will keep you up till late in the night....more info
- Brutal but insightful
While this novel was a little too brutal and bathed in blood for my taste, I did enjoy the insight into how the young boy Temujin-Uge grew up and eventually fashioned himself into the warrior we all know as Ghengis Khan. Fans of historical fiction who enjoyed Iggulden's other books should really like this. ...more info
- Superb historical fiction
Far too many people who read historical fiction fail to understand that the word fiction means "a literary work based on imagination and not necessarily on fact". Here, Conn Iggulden, as he explains in his Afterword, has built his story around a few purportedfacts from an admittedly unreliable source, using his imagination to create characters, internal thoughts, relationships, tribes, terrain and much more that may have never existed - except in his own imagination.
And in doing so, he has created a superb fictional portrait of Genghis, a ruthless man who created an empire.
Starting off as Temujin, son of the khan of the Wolves tribe, our hero is growing up on the Mongol steppes in 1200. Iggulden paints a portrait of a harsh land, where the spirits rule and sudden death is possible anywhere, any time. Temujin is barely pubescent when he is taken to a foreign village, a future wife selected for him and he is subjected to harsh treatment by strangers. His father is set upon by Tartars on his way home and put to an agonizing death.
The Khanate should pass to Temujin or his elder brother. Instead a trusted retainer usurps power and leaves Temujin's family on the steppes to starve or be murdered by wanderers.
Instead Temujin, his mother, an infant sister and four brothers - three after they murder one brother - survive and Temujin begins his life as a warrior.
He begins to understand that the Mongols, divided into dozens of warring tribes, are one people and he begins the long process of melding the tribes into a single entity, a great Mongol nation.
Iggulden is simply a master of his craft. The brutal, unsparing nature of Mongol life, as he imagines it, leaps off every page. Death can be instantaneous because of injured feelings or an imagined slight. Life is an unremitting grind of preparing for winter and than surviving winter. Tribes fight each other, stealing each others herds and women. Almost all Mongol men are warriors first and foremost, though they are also herdsmen, animal husbandry men and a dozen other things as well.
With Iggulden, we sit in the saddle as Temujin raids and is raided. The tension is palpable as Temujin learns and develops new tactics to vanquish his enemies. We feel controlling a galloping horse with our knees while drawing a bow that few modern men could handle. We feed on mare's milk and blood on long marches. We feel the desperation of Temujin's being captured, imprisoned in a pit and fortunate in the mercy shown by one man, allowing him to escape.
This is historical fiction at its finest. In his afterword, Iggulden explains his inventions, separating to some extent what has been imagined, what is based on the obviously questionable historical record and what has been omitted.
Personally I found the book to be a page turner that kept me awake most of the first night I was reading it. There was no second night, because I simply had to finish it. "Genghis: Birth of an Empire" distracted me from pressing obligations, but it is so rare to experience such finely crafted historical fiction, I simply didn't care.
A grand and wonderful book. Genghis lives in its pages.
- My First Historic Fiction Read
I usually stick to hard science fiction (not Star Trekkie stuff) and the lady at the book store checkout really pushed this one on me. That being the case, I was very skeptical about diving into it and held it for later. Looking back on it, my normal genre disappointed me while this one swept me off my feet!
I did not find the book boring at all. It was an intense ride through a very traumatic childhood, to say the least. I liked the pace and the author sprinkled descriptiveness here and there to flavor it up without turning it into boring mush.
I understood from the beginning that this was FICTION and that things were changed to add flow, continuity, and drama. That being said, I would not go into trivializing over "adjusted" timelines, facts, and faces. Why waste your time and get all huffy for no reason?
I gave it four stars due to some of the written scenes being overly gory, but I suppose lots of stuff happened that would make anyone cringe. But I was very entertained and that is the most important thing....more info
- The Rise
I have been a huge fan of British authors David Gemmell and Angus Wells, both of whom have passed away in recent years. I saw Conn Iggulden's book Genghis on the shelf in the store. The unusual name first drew my attention and then the title. I am a fan of the history of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon and many other great generals over the ages. On a whim I purchased the book and took it home. Covering the life of Temujin from birth until his rise as Khan of 3 tribes. This book is non stop adventure. The writing is very good and I found myself drawn into the story from page 1 on. If you are a fan of David Gemmell, then this is the author for you. He writes in a very similar way with larger than life heroes, and villains you can really despise. The story is also very well researched. I enjoyed the author's afterward that gave details on where his story split from the known history of Temujin. I went back and purchased all 4 of the emperor books and I eagerly await the next release in the Genghis series....more info