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The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle, Book 1) Paperback – April 24, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: The Mongoliad Cycle, Book 1
  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: 47North (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612182364
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612182360
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (476 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com Review

A Q&A with Mark Teppo, co-author of The Mongoliad: Book One

Q: How did you get the idea for The Mongoliad?

A: It all started with sword fighting, of course. My co-authors and I are part of a Western martial arts study group that practices in a non-descript loft in Seattle. A lot of the initial impetus for the group came from Neal Stephenson who had realized the sword fighting in his earlier novels was lacking the input from individuals with actual expertise. In the course of learning about the history of Western martial arts, he coaxed a couple other writers into the same circle. From there, the idea of writing a saga about the complex history of Western martial arts was born. Since the idea grew out of a group experience, it seemed best to continue the collaborative aspect of the project, and that was how the core team of Neal, Greg Bear, E.D. deBirmingham, Joseph Brassey, Erik Bear, Cooper Moo, and myself came together.

Q: The Mongoliad trilogy began as an online subscription service. How would you describe this first incarnation of the trilogy?


A: At the time, we were also talking about new ways of interacting with our audience, and an online subscription service seemed like an interesting experiment. The edition that grew out of that experience is best characterized as a serialized work-in-progress. Not only were we conducting an experiment in writing collaboratively, but we were also learning what it was like to interact—in near real-time—with our readers. It was, in many ways, not unlike the manner in which Charles Dickens wrote his own novels. The first iteration of many of his classics were serialized, with Dickens shaping and revisiting his plots based on readers' responses to the episodes. He even started to think of the episodes differently—writing more cliffhangers than one would normally use in a traditional novel format

Q: How is the Mongoliad trilogy different from the serialized version of The Mongoliad?


A: We wrote the serialized narrative in one long rush, constantly shifting stories and plotlines in response to writer availability and to what our audience was talking about. I don't know how well it will read after the fact as I think there was a certain amount of inescapable frisson that went on during that process. But it was a serialized experience and much of that emphasis is a weekly cliffhanger, which doesn't necessarily translate well to three separate volumes.

The trilogy that is being released via 47North is a much more coherent narrative where the emphasis is now on world-building and story-telling. The Mongoliad has a beginning, middle, and end, but it's also the starting point of a huge explosion of stories and characters—in the medieval world and beyond—that is still forthcoming. We know so much more about Foreworld now (the world in which The Mongoliad takes place) that we are able to properly understand these characters' place within the larger narrative that has yet to unfold.

Q: What are the strengths of this book-length version of The Mongoliad?


A: Firstly, each of the three volumes of The Mongoliad have been polished, re-structured, and re-edited into the definitive edition of the narrative. The 47North publication is the authors' preferred text. As we said, throughout the serialization a book is never really done for the writers until they can hold it in their hands. We're old school, that way. It's done when you put it on the shelf.

Secondly, having been the guy who had to take it all apart and put it back together across three volumes, I think it's a much stronger narrative now. There are four story branches that move back and forth across the year 1241, and lining up intersection points between the branches was complicated in a serialized non-linear format. The 47North edition allowed us to build a better pace and structure for the narrative.

For example, the Rome branch, which began immediately in the serial, doesn't begin in the 47North edition until Book Two. Which makes sense in a linear story-telling fashion because the events that occur in Rome take place much later than the initial events in Book One. In the serial, we didn't do it that way—much to our chagrin. But we couldn't do anything to fix that misstep. Until now.

Review

“This off-beat alternate history of Eurasia could be your new obsession.” –i09.com

“This story is pure adventure, with much swordplay and swashbuckling.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A terrifically engaging book that pulled me along at least as quickly as The Hunger Games. Think Lord of the Rings without all that pesky fantasy…Five frighteningly accurate historical sword fights out of five.” –Fanboy Comics

"While there might be some truth to the saying "too many cooks spoil the broth", it doesn't apply to The Mongoliad: Book One. In fact it's a distinct advantage in a book where we see the world through the eyes of such a diverse group of people. Differences in voice make each character a distinct individual while not detracting from the story's coherency or cohesion. The overall narrative actually flows far more smoothly than usual for a book covering as much ground as this one, as events build upon themselves naturally and logically. While there's no indication as to who wrote which parts it ends up being irrelevant. After the first few pages you'll find yourself so wrapped up in the story you'll no longer care who the author is, you'll just want to turn the page to find out what happens next." -Blogcritics


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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While there are seven authors, the voice of Neal Stephenson is unmistakeable at times. His narrative is often more along the lines of Cryptonomicon than Snow Crash, which depending on your taste may or may not be to your liking (I definitely preferred the latter to the former). I say this because there is considerable "situational dialog", for lack of a better description, where characters have discussions and the reader is slowly brought up to speed. While I found his presence obvious, there are times when it vanishes so I believe this was a good collaborative effort.

The story begins in 1241. Ogedei has succeed Genghis as Khan of the Mongol Empire and his hordes are ravaging Eastern Europe while the new Khan is seduced into court life and overindulgence. The Mongol horde is loose and ravaging Eastern Europe as the population descends into terror. A band of heroes decide a military victory is impossible and there is only one solution; so they set out on an impossible quest.

One character I found interesting was Istvan, who they refer to as a "Madjar", which I assumed to be a nomadic Magyar since he is a highly skilled horse archer. One reviewer was put off by the suggestion of the Mongols being depicted as too brutal. I disagree. Having read all the English-written historical source material on this subject I personally think not a single fiction author has come close to depicting it.

The Golden Horde which devastated north and west led by Jochi & Batu left very little living in their wake. It was a war of extermination and in 1241, the beginning of The Mongoliad, Batu was about to overtake Vienna. The devastation he left behind tells of mountains of human skulls and remains, a vast desolate wasteland; the results of Nazi style cleansing-efficiency.
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220 of 256 people found the following review helpful By W. V. Buckley on April 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Generally I try to avoid books that list a multitude of writers since they often come across as having been edited by committee and you have several voices trying to make their portions of the work stand out rather than a single voice that tries to make the entire book stand out. At least The Mongoliad manages to avoid those particular sins, though it manages to find others that are almost as egregious.

Take, for example, the idea of exposition. It's not one of the seven deadly sins, so it's OK to use it on occasion. It's one thing for an author (or authors, in this case) to drop you in the middle of the action on the opening pages; but to plop you in the middle of the action without even the tiniest hint of whenever and wherever the heck you are only serves to confuse and frustrate readers who aren't scholars of Medieval history and/or never heard of the on-line version of Mongoliad before reading about it in some of the reviews.

Likewise, it was difficult to figure out where the action takes place since there were no modern place names used in the book. I was beginning to think the story took place in some fantasy alternate universe until I figured out that Rus meant Russia. I can't entirely blame the authors for this. Even if it had been published with maps (as apparently the "deluxe" version will be) reading maps on a Kindle is nearly impossible.

There are some interesting passages in The Mongoliad, but they ended up being sandwiched between sections that lean toward the tedious. For example, in one portion of the book there is a description of one-on-one combat between two contestants in the Khan's Circus of Swords. I appreciate the level of realism with which this is depicted, but the battle continues over three friggin' chapters!
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108 of 126 people found the following review helpful By GRA on May 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I will not go over a lot of topics covered already except to say I agree with many of the critical comments. Medieval soap opera, way too many characters, too many writers perhaps? But no body has made the following comment so its here.

One massive clanger did it for me and so I was unable to even finish the book. The modern girls can do anything stuff is now inserted into most fantasy and adventure novels. You have these tiny pretty girls who are killing machines with an attitude. You also have the untrained female character who decides enough is enough and trains hard for, well it varies, maybe a week, a month several months? and then emerges able to regularly take down professional soldiers who are 40% larger and twice as strong at least. These men-at-arms have trained in the military arts since they were apprenticed at 12 or so. It is so wrong that it is in your face for the whole book saying "this is just a fairytale". The view is not misogyny. It would be like one of the knights having a glock. Just kills it for me. It seems it is now embedded in almost all of this type of fiction. An example is the tiny female Chinese courtier at the Kagan's court. She decides to learn to defend herself. She gets archery lessons from one of the Mongol nobles. Of course Mongol men are renowned for their tolerance for women especially non mongol women. It ignores than anyone touching a weapon who has not earned the right through the initiation process is severely punished. In any case she picks up the bow and after a few hints she draws the bow three times and had a burning sensation in her biceps but that will go away in time as she gets used to it. For real. Anyone who has tried to bend one of these powerful bows for the first time is shocked at the pull weight.
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