Saturday, 26 December 2015

Genghis: Lords of the Bow, by Conn Iggulden

3.5 stars

…Or, as I like to call it, Genghis 2: Empire-Building Boogaloo, in which Genghis – you guessed it – further builds his empire having united the tribes into one vast and terrible army. With the tribes now all under his control, Genghis isn’t content to sit back and count the rancid mutton and has instead settled his sights on an old enemy of his people: The Chin. First taking Xi Xia (and one of their princesses for a second wife), Genghis shows that his people aren’t just good at annihilating their enemies from atop their ponies, but are masters of the siege and – more importantly – propaganda too.

Learning from every enemy he comes across, and being more than a little sneaky when he needs to, it’s easy to see why Genghis (at least how he’s characterised here) made such a stunning impact on world history. He wasn’t just hard as nails (here surviving not just many battles but also assassins with poisoned blades), but fabulously cunning too. Although, having no idea about how this all went in real life, I have a funny feeling that his one blind spot (his alienation of his eldest son, Jochi) is going to come back to bite him in the ass.)

The battles that spatter these pages are more than a little pulse-pounding, and I’m still struck with awe at what terrifying warriors the Mongolians must have been, but having read the first two back to back I’ll be taking a wee break from the series for a bit as my time in this world was starting to feel ever so slightly samey towards the end.

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