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Genghis: Birth of an Empire: A Novel (The Khan Dynasty) Paperback – July 13, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Author of the bestselling Emperor series on the life of Julius Caesar, Iggulden turns to another of history's great conquerors, Genghis Khan, for a new series of brilliantly imagined and addictive historical fiction. Future conqueror Temujin—"a man of iron"—is born to the khan (ruler) of a fierce Mongol tribe that roams central Asia's steppes in the 12th century. When his father is killed by Tartar raiders before Temujin reaches manhood, a rival claims the tribe and banishes Temujin's family. Left behind without resources when the tribe migrates, the family struggles to survive the harsh environment, and Temujin dreams of gathering similar outcasts—wanderers and herdsmen—into a new tribe. After assembling a core of these "men scorned by all the others," Temujin begins raiding Tartar camps. As his fame spreads, Temujin launches an ambitious campaign to unite the Mongol tribes "after a thousand years of warfare" into a single people, defeat the Tartars and invade China. Building on the fragments of Genghis's life, 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. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Iggulden, author of the best-selling Emperorseries, shifts his focus eastward, retelling the story of legendary warrior Genghis Khan. Just as he did for Julius Caesar, Iggulden plants his subject firmly into historical context, fictionalizing the early years of Temujin, the son of a khan brutally murdered by invading Tartars. When his family is betrayed by a rival and abandoned by their clan, young Temujin vows revenge and dreams of the day he will become the conqueror rather than the conquered. Surviving the harsh reality of the Asian steppes, his adolescence is informed by a sense of mission that grows more urgent with each passing year. As a young man, he begins to develop skills as both a fierce warrior and a diplomat, reuniting Mongol tribes and factions into a formidable army. This authentically detailed historical drama sets the stage for the next installment. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Khan Dynasty (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (July 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038534421X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385344210
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Despite finding time to write historical novels and The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn Iggulden is in some ways better known as a trainer of Tollins. His Tollin troupe, "Small and Mighty," are famous in Tasmania, where they often play to packed houses. "It used to be just a hobby," he says, "but when you've seen a display of Tollin synchronized flying, you realize it's your life's work. Also, they can be transported in shoe boxes, so it's pretty cheap to get around."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on June 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Life on the steppes of northeastern Asia in the 13th Century was tough. On a backdrop of endless frozen tundra traveled by fierce Nomadic tribes, Conn Iggulden winds an entirely engrossing saga of Temujin, the son of a local warlord, who is destined to become the legendary conqueror and scourge of the west, Genghis Khan.

Following the death of his father, twelve-year old Temujin, his mother, Hoelun, brothers, and infant sister are cast out by the treacherous new leader of his native Blue Wolf tribe, left on Mongolia's barren plains without food, shelter, or weapons with winter approaching. Through Hoelin's ingenuity and sheer determination, the family survives against all odds, strengthening Temujin's already-iron will and igniting the spark of vengeance in him and his brothers. Iggulden follows up with a swashbuckling drama of cliffhangers and suspense as gripping, and certainly more bloody, than the best pop thrillers. Told at a lively pace without unnecessary baggage as Temujin, now merely eighteen, succeeds in uniting the disparate and warring Mongol tribes to stand down the Tartar raiders from the north.

"Genghis: Birth of an Empire", is one of those rare gems of historical fiction that is as entertaining as it is illuminating and educational. The research was exceptional, from Mongol "sky burials", to a uniquely brutal brand of cannibalism, to the life the northern Asian warrior's life on steppes - able to survive for days on end using their ponies not only for transportation, but also by tapping into a vein for sustenance. Since the details of Genghis Khan's childhood are sketchy at best, my initial assumption was that most of the author's content was speculation, heavily embellished to maintain a lively pace and hold reader interest.
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84 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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'

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on August 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Conn Iggulden's "Emperor" series was a fun, a-historical take on the life of Julius Caesar and his best friend, Brutus. Iggulden did not attempt to write a series that closely tracked the historical narrative (that's been done many times over, and Iggulden wasn't about to try to replace Colleen McCullough's "Masters of Rome" series). Historical liberties aside, Iggulden's take on Caesar was fun and action-packed.

"Genghis: Birth of an Empire" appears to follow the same track. "Gates of Rome," the first novel in the "Emperor" series, used less-famous personal names for Caesar and Brutus in order to obscure their identities while they were children. Iggulden does the same here, as the boy that will grow to become "Genghis" is named Temujin. He is the second oldest of five brothers, all sons to Yesugai, Khan of the Wolves. Born with a blood clot in his palm - a dire omen - Temujin will become one of the world's great conquerors.

But first he must survive his youth, which is a difficult struggle. Iggulden has spent his time in Mongolia, and it shows. The strengths of "Genghis" lie in Iggulden's depiction of the harsh Mongolian landscape and the life scraped out by its inhabitants. Iggulden uses several Mongol terms without definition, such as "ger," "deel," and the like, but it's pretty easy to figure out what is going on. Telling details like having one's hair frozen to the ground while sleeping transport the reader to the life-or-death edge that Temujin and his family live on most of their lives.

Temujin begins his life as the favored son of a brave military man.
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71 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Master Hahn on July 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While a very good action novel and fitting in quite well - for the most part - with the historical facts known about Jenghiz, there are a number of historical fictions taken. The author himself admits as much in his comments at the end of the book (i.e., taking liberty at changing certain facts around, adding certain "extras" in, etc.).

The aspects that relate to the Great Khan's early life and personal aspects can be forgiven in the nature of the author providing "extra drama" to particular aspects of the story (for example, having the Tatars capture his wife and then her fairly immediate rescue when in fact it was a different Mongol tribe that captured her and actually held her for months).

But the part that I could not forgive dealt with the Mongols being portrayed as inferior warriors - even Jeghiz himself - to the Chins and the statements (and stronger inferences) that the Mongols learned their strategical, operational and tactical "secrets" from the Chins (i.e., Chinese). What total nonsense. I suggest that the reader obtain and read "Genghis Khan's Greatest General: Subotai The Valiant" to learn the real facts in that regard. Specifically the chapters on "The Mongol War Machine", "The Mongol Military Legacy" and "The Lessons of Mongol Warfare".

Equally ridiculous was the Mongols adopting heavy armor from the Chins - especially at that early a time period in the maturing of Jeghiz and the building of his empire. Specifically by being less heavily armored (even with his heavy cavalry which comprised 60% of his force normally - the other 40% being light cavalry)....
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