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Genghis: Birth of an Empire: A Novel (The Khan Dynasty) Paperback – July 13, 2010
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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 an alternate Paperback edition.
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 an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Iggulden's writing is clear and concise; he creates an environment and a historical period which the reader can easily picture. The characters are distinct and memorable. Although the names are unusual, the reader should have no trouble remembering each one without confusion. I found myself easily able to discuss the characters and their roles in the novel. Personalities evolve and grow; attitudes and ethics change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves excellent historical fiction which is based on actual events and individuals. Both men and women will find this novel hard to put down; it is one to take on a cruise or when travelling. I am looking forward to continuing reading this series and will definitely be purchasing more of Conn Iggulden's works.
Just by chance I started reading this series from book #3, Bones of the Hills, at the end of which Genghis dies.
I bought it at the Borders near me which went out of business about 5 years ago.
Unlike the overblown fantastic over striving journalese or journalism--lese -- of Siege: 68 hours inside Taj Hotel Mumbai
Iggulden writes with a clean steely visceral as well as violent and visual sense of action, character and place, and manages to make us feel as if we are really Genghis father being attacked and betrayed on the Mongolian steppe. (I just read about 70 pages! of the free sample on Amazon).
In book one, the beginning, he does not relate the usual beginning, from Secret History of the Mongols--that Genghis Khan was born from the union of a wolf with a fallow deer.
Iggulden stays away from the myth with the seamy grimy harsh and brutal reality--
but in the third person limited point of view (also favored by GRRM--Game of Thrones)
he has the ability to switch from one point of view to the next, even the language changes, with complete clarity and credibility, somewhat like Dickens or Tolstoy. So why are some popular writing teachers still teaching you must not "switch heads"--Why not? I still remember how a classmate almost screamed at me--"You just switched point of view here."
For me, I know the main facts of the Genghis story already, from reading about it, including the scholarly work by Mark Rossabi, over the last 17 years or so.
Yet Conn Iggulden still manages to draw me in with a wealth of textural detail, without slowing down the action.
Or rather the action isn't frenetic as it is in an action movie, but with a heightened consciousness of the characters, who are after all constantly in life or death situations on an hostile environment.
I think it's all superb, and deserves to be the bestsellers they are, Conn Iggulden's books.
I have not read his Rome series.
The only Rome novel I have read being Robert Graves' horrific I, Claudius. (Again like GRR Martin's world in Song of Ice and Fire series).
So, a lot to look forward to.
BTW, if you contemplate buying a novel, always listen to the audio edition too. Genghis: Birth of a Nation is read beautifully.
In the extensive free sample, through the action/story, Iggulden weaves in how disparate the tribes were, and Tartar and Mongol are not the same, and also there was no Mongol Nation before Genghis. (Spelled "Chingiz" by Rossabi).
Iggulden does this by showing how Genghis and his elder brother Becktar suffered when they spent a year each being "broken in" with their mother's tribe when they were "waiting for their bethrothed to come into their monthly blood."
He also shows excellently how Genghis' own clan became the efficient conquering and killing military machine it became.
One was the way the arbans and the tumens were organized. I am not going to explain here what they were, look it up yourself.
Another was that the Mongol tribes, unlike say the Egyptians or the Mormons or the Burmese monarchs, knew that incest could destroy your gene pool and weaken the tribe/s.
So they practiced raids or getting brides by abduction or negotiation, or by rape and capture during war.
I am not recommending it as a marital practice, I am just pointing it out.
Jon Krakauer in his book Under the Banner of Heaven describes how many Mormon women in modern times "gave birth to blobs of blood" because incest was so common, fathers and uncles "marrying" daughters and nieces in a chilling abusive "pattern."
So I don't think all these "racial purity" or blood lines theories are any good.
Anyway, read Iggulden, you can't go wrong and you will also learn a lot of how the Mongols conquered the world between the Western borders of present-day China up to Hungary and Vienna in Europe.
And how they became the Moghuls in India.
(Whichever way you look at it, Burma is a failed system and not worth expending grey matter on. The present author was born in Burma.)
These are very fast moving, exciting novels if you are interested in this time in history. This man was an unbelievable hero and villian, larger than life and if you want to know something about him, this is a great place to start.