Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden’s 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 conqueror—as 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 before—with 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 firepower—until his army faced the ultimate test of all.

In the city of Yenking—modern-day Beijing—the 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.
I read the first book in this trilogy last year and I was very excited when book two came out earlier this year, but we all know how slow I am with reading trilogies! So, I am only now getting around to reading it, and even slower about the whole reviewing it thing. Let me first point out that I know next to nothing about the non-fiction version of Genghis Khan. I am sure that these books are not accurate, but I enjoy reading them and you don't read fiction for accuracy, so don't castrate me for liking them! I know a lot of people expect historical fiction to be the whole truth, but I have never been one for that idea. All I know is that I love the trilogy! I have book three sitting around, waiting to be read, but it will probably take me a while to get to it.

This book was really very engaging. I didn't get wrapped up in it quite the same as book one, but then it is book two in a trilogy and that is something that very commonly happens. That is not to say there was not a lot happening in it. The main character of this trilogy is Genghis, but in this book we also got to spend some time with his three brothers. The focus of the novel would shift and tell their story for a while, so it wasn't always falling Genghis around. This made the book more interesting, I have to admit. There were times when Genghis was just sitting around waiting for something to happen, and if we had to listen to his story we would probably get bored. Even if his brothers came back and retold their adventures, I don't think we would have enjoyed it all that much. Then it would really have suffered from second book-syndrome. This way, we were right in the heat of the action and were watching the story unfold as it happened. I liked that a lot more. Genghis has some interesting brothers! I look forward to seeing what happens to them in the last book.

Unfortunately, it has been a while since I read this book, so the storyline is not fresh in my head! I kept starting this review, but never seemed to find the time to actually get very far with it. In essence, Genghis has encountered the enemy and is determined to take them down. In order to do so, though, he has to battle against things that he has never even seen before. One of the big problems is the walls that surround the cities and how he is to go about breaking them down. The first time he does not succeed, but he doesn't let this get to him. He sends two of his brothers out to borrow a man capable of showing them the secrets of the walls and then it is quite some time before he meets a force that he is incapable of destroying him! He is a great war leader and Iggulden writes in a way that we can really see what he could have been thinking as he planned these great wars. It was very interesting to get inside his head and see the world from his eyes.

All in all, I love this trilogy. I look forward to the last book, and seeing how things play out, but at the same time I will be disappointed to see the story end. Every so often I need a good battle, and this trilogy allows that for me. I prefer books with lots of action, even though it seems I only read books that lack action lately!


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