Whenever I read a Conn novel I expect to be taken on a journey. A grand, expansive, lyrical journey. I have followed him since before his first `Emperor' novel and have stayed a fan since. My only quam is that he takes about a year and a half between novels so I tend to lose a bit of the story because 1. I'm not getting younger and 2. Ginsing is NASTY! Trying to keep up with the bloodline of Genghis is like trying to read Braille with ball bearings attached to your fingers. But as I read this latest installment in the `Khan' series, everything slowly comes back. As massive a figure as Genghis was, the character that took me in this book was Tsubodai. The General. The Strategist. The non-bloodline "outcast" that helped build one of THE greatest warrior nations ever. His true impact we'll probably never know but `Empire of Silver' does a pretty good job of helping us see his contribution. His brutality seems second only to Genghis and I enjoyed reading about the slaughter he meted out to anyone who didn't have the sense to give up.
Conn does the Khan History justice in this latest installment of The Mongols. We get the battles, the blood (although I was hoping for more), and even the time treasured, never ending politics of a Nation. Genghis has so many children and offspring that if he lived today he would be playing in the NBA. Because of this, there are numerous, legitimate claims to the Khanate that are constantly being challenged. Ogedai is the Khan in this book but for how long? Will honor, greed, or bloodlust win the day? Once Ogedai makes his decision as to who will rule what and where, the generals are loosed upon the world. And I guess their orders were to slaughter damn near everything because... geez! They introduced so much blood to the world that vampires were like "seriously, stop". Reading a Conn novel is truly pure joy because there is so much story and the way he's writing these Khan novels, there's no end in sight. Fine with this reader.
Conn's writing has sharpened since his first `Emperor' book but a small part of me wishes for the "old" Conn, especially when it comes to the blood and brutality. Don't misunderstand me; it's in here but not at the level as his previous books. Doesn't take away from the story, just a personal preference. Anyway... enough of me crying and belly aching... the action in this book is exactly what you would expect from Conn; fast and vast. The simmering hatred Batu has for Tsubodai and his forced yet mocking obedience of the famed General. Chagatai biding his time before unleashes his version of the Mongol Smackdown. The terror of the Russian towns and her citizens at the knowledge that they would not live to see the next morning; heck the next hour. A shocking sacrifice by one of the brothers, the genius of a forgotten General, and a razor sharp kirpan twist at the end.
Anyone wanting to know how to write an historical-thriller needs to sign up for `Conn 101'. Anyone wanting to read a massive historical-thriller needs only to visit their local book store to do so. When you get there, go to the "I" section, look up `Iggulden', and then cancel your life for the next week.
One last thing: Conn adds some historical facts at the end of this book to give us perspective as to what was true and what he took liberty with. I'm assuming he did this because for some reason Conn gets beaten up mercilessly by critics scream from the mountaintops that his books aren't "accurate". Conn is an author, Conn is a creator, Conn is a storyteller. If he wants to take liberty with history so be it! I understand why he did it (if that is indeed why he did it) but I say screw the corncob pipe smoking critics man! He has a gift that they don't; he can tell a story and hold people. The only difference between a non-fiction book and a fiction book is the "non". (Wow, deep). It's all about perspective. Conn sees it one way, I see it one way, and the corncob dork sees another. Ignore the detractors and the purists. You want "true" history? Go to Oxford and proceed to be bored stupid. You want a series that makes your heart pulse? It's right here.
The three Genghis novels that precede this had the luxury of telling the unified and arrow's-arc story of Genghis' rise and fall. The first told of his youth and ambition and introduced us to the fascinating martial and completely merciless Mongol culture. The second limned his rise to ultimate power, and the third found him extending his empire before finally leaving the stage as arguably the most powerful man in the world.
Here, Iggulden has a harder job, picking up the pieces after Genghis' demise to tell the story of the sons and brothers of Genghis who tried to maintain the empire he'd built, and who jockeyed to take his place. First it should be said that no one who hasn't read the first three volumes should read this-- a thorough understanding of the relationships forged in the previous volumes is necessary to make sense of the beginnings of this book. I enjoyed those books very much (as well as Iggulden's 4-volume bio of Julius Caesar), but "Khan: Empire of Silver" suffers from a lack of a clear through-line during its first half. Many characters and too much exposition often slow the flow. I was far more pleased with the second half, where Iggulden indulges his love of battle scenes in the Golden Horde's attacks on Eastern Europe. Here he shines and the book picks up speed.
My verdict: Ultimately enjoyable, but not the equal of its predecessors.
"It was his father's nation and creation, his father's vision of a people: horse and warrior, sword and bow together."
Conn Igguldon returns to the Mongol world of Genghis Khan and his family in "Khan: Empire of Silver". "Empire" is blood-pumping, action-packed, and built upon a foundation of relate-ably human stories.
Iggulden paints a wonderfully vibrant landscape with his series of Genghis Khan novels. He writes boldly descriptive battle scenes, while crafting nuanced dialogue that deftly avoids sounding stilted or forced. In "Empire", the depth of his characters rise well above typical mass market fiction. It's not an easy task to build fully fleshed individuals out of so many characters, and within a story with such an action-heavy motif.
"Empire of Silver" picks up several years after the death of the nation-builder Genghis Khan. Khan's son Ogedei is has been named his successor, but not to the liking of many, including his brother Chagatai. This creates some early palace intrigue and action, before the story shifts sites to a pair of bloody and intense battlefronts. In the south the Mongols continue their expansion into "Chin" territory, and in the west, the "Golden Horde" swarms over the Russian steppe, and then into Europe.
The battle scenes are epic. In Iggulden's hands, the bitter cold of the Asian plains blows right off the page; the acrid smell of gun powder is chokingly strong; thousands of arrows falling from the sky are chest-thumpingly realistic. The battles shift from one point of view to another...first to a Mongolian campaign general calculating, watching, planning; then to a Mongolian field general emptying a quiver of arrows into enemy warriors; then to a European soldier, pushed forward by the sheer force of bodies behind him, fighting desperately for his home while battling the overwhelming fear that precedes the Mongols.
Iggulden spins a terrific tale. The plots and subplots are clear and read as fast as a Mongolian warrior riding across the Asian steppe. Genghis' two brothers, Khasar and Kachiun, as well as his uber-General Tsubodai, continue to play prominent roles in this book. But they shift from the stolid workhorses of the Khan's world, into aging and reflective leaders. While Ogedai rules from afar, a new generation of Genghis' progeny steps into the generational void on the western battlefront. Batu, Baidur and Mongke shine the brightest among Genghis' grandchildren, but a young Kublai makes an appearance setting up the next two books in Iggulden's ongoing series.
A great historical fiction combines terrific storytelling with historical realism. Iggulden's writing is smooth and his descriptive powers robust. His historical approach is solid and detailed despite his free use of timeframes and certain events (which he freely admits in his historical end notes). While following the path that world history has laid out, Iggulden also pulls readers into the day-to-day existence of the Mongol elite and military. It's a world of felt tents called gers, quilt deels, and in extreme times, drinking the blood of ones' own horse.
Iggulden's world is so bold and lively that I found myself perusing the fiction categories online to read more about Genghis and the Mongols - this is a sure sign that he's done a superb job. The book is strong as a stand-alone, however the background of his previous novels is helpful and the ending is clearly structured to set up the next in the series - something I'll look forward to with great anticipation.
I received "Khan: Empire of Silver" as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
In 1229, Genghis Khan is dead, and his son Ogedai has been named his successor as the Great Khan. Ogedai is Genghis's third son. The night before Ogedai is due to be confirmed as Genghis's successor, troops loyal to his elder brother Chagatai storm Ogedai's palace at Karakorum and attempt to murder him. This attempt fails and once Ogedai is confirmed, he sends his brother to conquer the south. Tsubodai, Genghis Khan's great general, is sent west: through Russia and into Europe. Ogedai himself moves east for further conquest in China.
The continued expansion of the empire founded by Genghis results in some epic battle scenes, which Mr Iggulden brings to life, as well as some fascinating description of strategy. If the Mongol armies had not been withdrawn from Europe after Ogedai's death, no army in Europe would have been able to stop them. In the context of the story (and of the history), the decision to withdraw makes perfect sense - but it didn't stop me wondering about the consequences.
The history is fascinating, and Mr Iggulden uses it as the basis for a terrific novel. Genghis's brothers Khasar and Kachiun still have a role, but they are aging. A new generation - of Genghis's grandchildren - is making a mark. Batu, Baidur and Mongke seem the most promising.
Mr Iggulden's historical note at the end of the novel is helpful, and reminded me of how much story there is still left to tell. Initially, it took me longer to become engrossed in this novel: none of the characters had the same appeal for me as Genghis. But I soon became swept up in the events, and found myself wanting to know more about the Mongol exploits in Europe. And the descriptions of battlefields and strategy had me completely engrossed.
This is the fourth novel in the Conqueror series, continuing the saga of the Khan dynasty. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.
`A wolf cannot have more than one head, general, or it tears itself apart.'
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!!
on December 8, 2010
As with the previous three titles in this series, I found this latest instalment of the "Khan" novels a gripping and most satisfying read. Although like most historical authors Mr Iggulden has had to take quite a few liberties with a few aspects of history, nonetheless he has still managed to deliver a most convincing, detailed portrayal of the post Genghis Mongol empire,which, although reeling from the untimely loss of its great founder, still has its sights set on further conquests.
However, all is not well in the Mongol camp. Ogedai,the chosen heir, is plagued with bad health and is acutely aware his days on the shaky Mongol throne are limited. Although an astute and able ruler in his own right, he is weak in body and is also haunted by the grim reality that his son and heir, Guyuk, is too young and inexperienced to fend off formidable opposition. This is chiefly in the form of Chagatai, Ogedai's older brother and Genghis's one time favourite son, whose vengeful and scheming nature has cost him his original position as heir. Although he has been made a Khan in his own right, Chagatai still lusts for the central throne and will stop at nothing to achieve his ends - even if it means wiping out the entire royal family.
Ogedai can count on the stalwart support of his younger brother, Tolui and his own able sons, Mongke and Kublai, now come to manhood. He also has the support of his three aging uncles, the great generals Khasar and Kachiun and the scholarly but astute Temuge. However, the true balance of power lies with the loyalty of one man - Tsubodai, Genghis's greatest general and arguably one of the greatest military figures in history. Like his good friends Khasar and Kachiun, Tsubodai too grows old but dreams of a final great conquest to the west. He sweeps his great armies through the bitter cold of Russia into Hungary, the bloody conflict coming to a most bloody head with the charismatic Hungarian King Bela and his gallant Magyar host. The whole of Europe now lays before Tsubodai - but his loyalty is tested to the limit when politics come into the power game and on the eve of his greatest triumph, he is forced to make a pivotal decision that will have resounding consequences.
There is a distinct shift throughout this book that marks the dawn of a new era. The once simplistic and isolated lives of the Mongol nation takes on new subtlety as for the first time they have a capital - Karakorum - and the true intrigue of courtly politics and power play certainly extends its grip throughout this book. Not least of these rests with Batu, the illegitimate son of Jochi, Genghis's eldest son who earlier in the series was executed on his father's orders for desertion. Burning with shame over his origins but blessed with no small ability, Batu has also inherited much of his father's bitterness. Raised from his poverty stricken home to be a prince by his sympathetic uncle, Ogedai, Batu thirsts to prove himself in life as well as in battle - but can he curb his bitter and often caustic tongue long enough to make good friends where they truly count - namely Tsubodai, whom he both reveres and yet despises? The other aspect of the new Mongol order comes in the form of two very remarkable women who are probably unique in much of Asian history - Ogedai's queen, Torogene, and the even more remarkable Sorghatani, wife of Tolui and mother of both Mongke and Kublai. When the empire starts to totter as the sickly Ogedai weakens, it is these two formidable women who establish a powerful joint rule - but can they hold things together long enough for the young Guyuk to inherit before his scheming uncle, Chagatai, marches on Karakorum?
As usual, Mr Iggulden delivers an action packed extravaganza worthy of a Hollywood scriptwriter. However, the woven threads of the Mongol tapestry are by now means complete, and the discerning reader will immediately pick these up throughout the weave of the narrative. We can sense very early on the young Kublai, just coming into his maturity and waiting in the wings to take his own unique place in history. Also, although the once great Chin empire of China has been crushed, the southern Sung empire smugly believes itself safe from invasion - or is it? The loose ends of the next book certainly wait to be taken up! I say bring it on.
on May 16, 2015
I haven't quite finished it yet but it seems a little slower than the other books in the series. Still very enjoyable and necessary part of the series seems to be historically accurate although some interesting historical incidents seem to have been left out. What I missed the most was that a Christian member of the Khan's court was sent into Europe in advance of the invasion and reported made it to England where he had communion with the King. He was latter rebuked by the Pope. Anyhow seems like an interesting piece of history that has been often overlooked.
on April 18, 2015
Conn Iggulden is a master of using nuggets of history to weave a dramatic story. Empire of Silver is in a vein with the others. I hope he continues to trace the history of Genghis Khan 's successors to include what transpires after Kublai, including Batu and the Jochid Golden Horde, Ghazan of the Muslim Ilkhanate, and the Ming revolt over the Yuan under Kublai's descendants. Tumour Lenk would also make an interesting subject.
on November 24, 2014
This author is a brilliant story teller and I have loved every book in the Khan series. This book takes place after the death of Genghis Khan and it was fascinating to read of the politics and history following the death of the infamous leader. I highly recommend the Khan series to anyone who loves historical fiction. Often times when I read long novels I tend to skim over some sections, but Iggulden's writing has me hanging on every word....no skimming necessary here!
on April 29, 2014
If you do not like reading scholarly treatises on History, but are interested in the Mongolian Empire, then this is a thrilling way to read about the "Golden Horde." For a nation of hunter-herdsmen to be able to conquer a vast amount of China, the Persian empire, Russia, and Eastern Europe, is incredible. An amazing story of a brutal and ambitious people from an unforgiving land.
You won't be able to put these books down!