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Conn Iggulden claimed several days of my life reading the three novels comprising his Genghis adventure - and how I wish he would continue to more volumes.

Iggulden is simple the contemporary master of historical fiction. (Please note, these volumes are historical FICTION, not histories. Far too many people think that historical fiction is supposed to be a history volume. Wrong.)

In Genghis, Iggulden follows the rise of the eldest son of the khan (leader) of a small, but fierce tribe of Mongol leaders. After his father is ambushed and dies an agonizing death, Genghis's claim to the khanship is usurped and his family left behind to starve or be killed by lawless wanderers.

The first two novels detail the ascension of Genghis as he pulls together the constantly warring tribes into a single Mongol nation - that then attacks its eternal enemy, the Chin. Each book is rich in historical fact, legend and invention.

The third volume has Genghis, now the Great Khan, in Arab lands, avenging an insult to the Mongols from a satrap of the Shah. As you might expect from a man and people whose life from childhood to death revolved around war, there are extensive battle scenes which Iggulden handles with a perfect touch. You can smell the sweat, the horses, the blood, the death. You can feel the stoicism with which both Muslims and Mongols fight to the death.

Iggulden invents a family and tribal life for Genghis that embodies the few facts that are known and many of the myths and legends. There are the eldest sons ,Jochi, possibly a bastard product of rape, and Chagatai, Genghis's second, who are engaged in an increasingly savage sibling rivalry. Two wives sharing Genghis have their own conflicts. Genghis' generals, faithful onto death, have their own feelings to contend with.

It is, in all, a tour de force. Iggulden weaves in the Assassins (whom the Mongols did repeatedly attempt to quash), a Buddhist holy man, a vile Mongolian shaman, Arab princes, merchants and mercenaries, the Chin(ese), even some Russians whose lives were cut short.

Iggulden evokes an age when death was a constant companion to all. Not only death by natural causes and disease, but violent death, such as that suffered by the 163,000 captured by Mongols who were put to death by the sword as a lesson to the Muslim lands.

"Genghis" in its entirety is a compelling narrative of what life was like in the day of Genghis. It is, in a word, breathtaking and this third and final volume is the best of the lot.

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Having vanquished the Chin, the ancient foe of the Mongolians, Genghis Khan turns his attention to a new foe from the west. At the same time, he has to deal with the challenges of leadership in an environment where the nomadic nation he has united from the tribes is being exposed to other lifestyles and where his sons are becoming old enough to have leadership expectations of their own.

`I want them to know that if they resist me they are putting their hand in the mouth of a wolf.'

Full of ruthless action, but never without a purpose, Genghis is courageous, consistent and calculating. He rules with an iron will and does not usually allow sentiment to intervene. But for all of that, he has human foibles and flaws. This is a story about the conqueror rather than the man but both are visible behind the cold face. I am not entirely sure whether I should admit to liking Genghis Khan but I will freely admit to admiring his strength of character. For me, the dialogue and the action both seemed so congruent with the image I have of Genghis Khan that I had to keep reminding myself that this is a fictional representation.

`There is a price for all things.'

At the end of this novel, Mr Iggulden provides some additional reading suggestions for those who would like to peel back the centuries to try to learn more about the man behind the legend. I've read some of these books: I'll be looking to read others. And yes, I'll be re-reading this trilogy.

If you enjoy action-filled fiction in an historic setting which is broadly consistent with known facts, you may well enjoy this series.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on March 28, 2009
This is the final book in the three novel arc on the life of Genghis Khan written by Conn Iggulden. I found it to be the best of three and a very interesting read. As you can imagine there are many battle scenes, but there is also much intrigue in Genghis's world. He finds many enemies within his own family and warriors as on the grassy plains and mountains of Asia. It is best to start with the first book of this trilogy and read all the way to this final book. Five stars and well worth your time.
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on June 27, 2009
Good historical fiction, well written and the writer has in depth knowledge of his subject matter. The life of Genghis Khan written in the form of a novel. The emotional level expressed is a monotone as there is no humor or romance or levity of any kind, just relentless and ruthless struggle for power fueled by a harsh view of the world and a resentful attitude towards rivals that had traditionally held the upper hand (i.e. the Chinese). This one dimensional portrayal may be entirely accurate and appropriate for the subject matter and I would imagine that it reflects whatever historical records that exist, but I would be interested to see if there are other dimensions to this man that managed to unite the fractious Mongol tribes and conquer perhaps the largest swath of territory ever united under one ruler. I came away with a grim feeling of a man and a group of men that wanted power for its own sake without any positive ideology. History shows that tribal life and mentality has a central core value of "us" vs "them" with the assumed idea that one aspires to raid the neighboring tribe to steal his women, chattel, belongings and to kill the rival warriors. That view point makes human beings look like packs of snarling dogs, with no cultural creations of mitigating value.
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on December 15, 2013
Where to begin? It was such an amazing series!

I love historical fictions, they give you a front row seat into how our world was shaped while breathing life into long dead people. This series did that and MORE!

I recommend starting at the first book and, if you are half as into these books as I was, you won't be able to put them down.

- Battle scenes, very descriptive and exciting. I would like to congratulate the author on keeping the types of battles written throughout the series fresh and interesting. They fought constantly for generations but always a new location, new odds, new strategy, new obstacles. Very EXCITING!

-Character development. The number of characters is never overwhelming and you become emotionally invested in their lives. They have varying personalities, goals, dreams, while still keeping a bit of humor.

-Extremely well written

-Great mix of historical fact and page turning dramas. I really enjoyed understanding the life of the Mongols. They are strong people. Very impressive.

-Scenery descriptions, I loved the changes in scenery and I have a much deeper understanding of the climate and environment of the Mongol, Asian, and Islamic parts of the world. Plus the struggles that had to over come to survive and conquer.

-Assassins~! Only the Mongols would take on assassin strong holds...

The author truly captures the essence of this book in his final note:

"This story began as a single starving family, hunted and alone on the plains of Mongolia -- and ends with Kublai Khan ruling an empire larger than that of Julius Ceaser or Alexander the Great. Over just three generations, that is simply the greatest rags-to-riches tale in human history" Conn Iggulden

I am now going to read his Ceaser series and any other historical fiction Conn Iggulden writes!!

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on February 27, 2013
It was not just good, it was awesome and fun and pulled you in for hours at a time. Hard to put down. Exciting and really made you feel like you were Khan's neighbor living next door, what it must have been like in those times. I so much enjoyed the entire series that I have sold my paperback versions and bought hardcover books to keep displayed on my book shelf. I do not have a large book collection, very few I keep around for future re-reading but some of them include Name of the Wind (Patric Rothfus), The Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson), Game of Thrones (Martin), and Emperor Series (Conn Igulden) - wonderful and similar writting style to his Conqueror series!
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on March 2, 2016
This entire series is riveting, filled with insights to another world... a world that really existed, was filled with accomplishments and yet "modern times" sees fit to ignore. Kudos to Iggulden for shining a spotlight on the brutal yet enthralling world of the early Mongol Empire.
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on August 11, 2014
While I don't get to spend much time reading novels anymore, what little time I DO get is always spent on historical fiction such as Christian Jacq's Ramses series (Best fiction I've ever read and more accurate than many "non-fiction" accounts of Ramses life), and Conn Iggulden's various series. Genghis is definitely one of his better ones, and that's saying a whole lot because Conn produces some excellent books. Perfect mix of historical accuracy and creative liberty making the story of Khan enthralling and captivating.
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on June 30, 2014
The books in this series are excellent. First time I have been able to stick with battle "scenes" as they are full of incredible descriptions of the terrain and techniques of the Mongols. Found myself on the internet researching the locations and that time-period to fully understand and appreciate what these people accomplished. Very good storytelling with lots of small details about life in that period.
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on January 3, 2009
Birth of an Empire, the first of the trilogy, was a fine work. Things slipped for Lords of the Bow, the second of the trilogy. Bones of the Hills brings us back to the level of Birth of an Empire. Birth was local: Lords of the Bow centered on the invasion of the Chin Empire, and Bones takes us south and west, to India and Persia, the shores of the Caspian and Black Seas. There are two primary enemies: one an Arab, and the other the leader of the Assassin sect. Genghis Khan is aging, his sons are grown, and the empire would certainly seem to be getting unwieldingly large.

The enemies are getting smarter--they are beginning to adapt to and counter the Mongol war tactics. Temujin must choose an heir: his sons certainly do not see eye to eye with each other. The developing situation is not unlike that of the Diodachi after the death of Alexander--can the empire be held together? Temujin was the focus of the first book. In Lords of the Bow Temujin is more of a spectator--most of the story seems to be about others, not Temujin. In Bones of the Hills Temujin is once again the focus.

You get a fine view of the Mongol war machine, the conquests, the sieges, the tactics. Iggulden can do a fine job when he keeps his focus. If you want some additional reading--additional fiction--Until the Sun Falls by Cecelia Holland is a great novel about the general Psin on the western edge of the Mongol Empire. This is fiction that you won't regret reading if you have enjoyed Iggulden's trilogy.
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