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Having taken back his father's tribe Temujin of the Wolves has now become Genghis Khan and unites the tribes of all the Mongolian factions. As one he now plans to strike back at the Chin emperor's who have for years tried to keep the Mongolians divided and fighting amongst themselves. Now as one the Mongolian Khan leads his people into battle against the Xi Xia and the Chin forces in order to seek revenge for the years of torment and tyranny they have suffered under their closest neighbours.
This is the second book in the latest series from historical fiction author Conn Iggulden. It follows on from Wolf of The Plains and see's Iggulden pick up the story of Genghis Khan where he left off at the end of the last book. As the follow up series to Emperor I was still wondering what to expect from this second book in the Conqueror series as although I'd enjoyed the first book in the series I wasn't sure that Iggulden could keep the quality of the stories up.
Thankfully he answered that question within the first chapter of this second book, opening with the battle that unites the tribes and starts to really get into the story of Genghis. It's a story that I'd always had an interest in and while Iggulden does use his poetic licence to great effect in his books all of the events he creates are based around historic events that are known to have happened. He has obviously researched the Mongolian tribes in great detail and put a lot of work into finding out the true events behind the stories he wishes to tell. The book gives an insight into the nomadic way of live the Mongolian tribes seemed to prosper in.
Like the previous book in the series and the whole of the Emperor series Iggulden hooks the reader into the world of his lead characters. With the close family of Genghis making up the remaining lead characters Iggulden uses the relationships between them to reveal some very clever twists and motivations of his characters. His characterisations leads on from the first novel and while we learn a lot more about Genghis and his brothers thoughts and ideas it is important to have read the Wolf of the Plains for the simple reason that this doesn't recover the old ground and that book is essential to where the characters are and why they are doing what they are doing in this one.
He uses some very descriptive passages to give you a mental image of the Mongolian camps and how their Gers would look and smell. It's one of the real draws to Iggulden's work is the way he combines the history of his subject and the way he describes it to really bring it to life for the reader. It is an impressive talent that makes the 452 pages fly by before you even realise it. When you consider that including the Emperor series this is his 6th book of historical fiction it makes it an impressive feat that they have all been of such quality.
While I like books by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, there is something about the way that Conn Iggulden writes that makes his books slightly more addictive and therefore enjoyable. He seems to put you into the mindset of his lead character and the way it's written lets you see through the eyes of Genghis Khan as well as those who opposed him. Of course this is the second book in the series and perhaps that is it's only down fall in that this isn't a book you can pick up and read as a one off and needs to be read after Wolf of the Plains.
Overall it's a thoroughly enjoyable story that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Whilst reading the Emperor books I had a feeling that Conn Iggulden's books would make for an excellent movie and once again the Conqueror series has that same effect. It seems almost inevitable that these will one day become a movie or TV series and my last piece of advice for now would be to read these books before Hollywood gets hold of them because they really are that good.
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I loved this series of books. Have just finished the last one in the Trilogy. They are historically relevant and have plenty of factual information in. Encouraged me to research Genghis Khan. The sories are well written and interesting to follow historical men from childhood (even though its a fictional one). Can be rather gory and a bit too detailed. You will have to have a stomach for war to read them. Descriptions of people and places and in-depth. Plenty of characters with similar names so it can get a bit confusing in places. Worth the read and available for a decent price in most shops. Best place to buy it is supermarkets. Some details are true to his life and some are fictional. great aurthor and he details where he gets his information froma t the end of every book for your reference. Excellent value for money. Real page turner
"Lords of the Bow" is the second in the Conqueror series based on the life of Genghis Khan by Conn Iggulden.
Iggulden is the author of the popular Emperor series which was based on the life of Julius Caesar. Although full of historical inaccuracies (which Iggulden himself admits) this series has been well received. Having read the Emperor series previously I was looking forward to the new series on Genghis Khan as I did not know much about him.
Genghis Khan is famous for uniting the nomadic tribes of the Mongols and attacking the Chin Empire. He led many campaigns across Central Asia and his empire was substantial by the time of his death in 1227. His descendants, including Kublai Khan, cemented and added to this empire impressively.
The first in this series " Wolf of the Plains" dealt with Genghis's childhood and the death of his father, the khan of the Wolf tribe. We see Genghis's attempts to survive and then forge the tribes together in an unheard of alliance.
This second book deals with Genghis's attempts to attack and conquer the Chin Empire which has suppressed the Mongol tribes for as long as they can remember. This series is very interesting in that it gives a good insight into the internal politics of the Mongol tribes and their nomadic way of life.
The individual characters are interesting but Iggulden doesn't go very far with character development or motivation. By the end of the book I still didn't really understand why Genghis was so determined to conquer everything in sight. The only reason we are given is that they hate the Chin and because they are strong so they should take what they want.
The character of Genghis is not a particularly sympathetic one and he is not very likeable but he is interesting nonetheless. The characters of his brothers are more engaging, especially Khasar and Temuge. Khasar is a typical Mongol warrior but has a more humane side to him and is more likeable than Genghis. Temuge is selfish and vain and looks to imitate the luxurious Chin way of life.
The shaman character Kokchu is quite enjoyable as you will love to hate him - you know that he is always up to no good and cannot be trusted.
I enjoyed reading about Mongol culture, especially the "cold face" of the warrior. The male children are taught from a young age not to show their emotions, instead assuming the cold face. This is a recurring theme throughout the book and could explain why Iggulden never seems to really let us know Genghis as a character.
The military problems Genghis encounters are interesting as well - the tribes are used to open plain warfare - charging the enemy on horseback and picking them off with their bows. These tactics do not work with the Chin towns and cities which are surrounded by stone walls.
Throughout the book we switch to the Chin viewpoint and see the Emperor's side of things. This is also useful and the historical detail is involving, although I don't know how accurate it is.
I did enjoy this book but not as much as I had hoped to. I found that I enjoyed the Emperor series a lot more and found the characterisation more in-depth. I would recommend this book to those interested in Genghis Khan but would remind you that Iggulden does use poetic license as and when he sees fit!
This review is also posted on Ciao.co.uk under username mogdred1.
Lords of the Bow is Conn Iggulden's sequel to "Wolf of the Plains" and the second book in the Conqueror series. To borrow a word from the cover of the book itself, Lords of the Bow is the 'epic' story of Genghis Khan.
About the Author
Conn Iggulden is the author of 'The Dangerous Book for Boys' as well as the Emporer series- works of historical fiction based on the life of Julius Caesar.
Synopsis (or a brief summary to you and me)
Genghis Khan was born in Mongolia (ca 1162-1227) and conquered large parts of Asia. His legacy continued after his death and more lands were conquered. This work of historical fiction continues his story from "Wolf of the Plains", where Genghis we were introduced to a young Genghis and followed his story into manhood. In Lords of the Bow, Genghis finally leaves his homeland to begin his conquest of the Xi Xia region and the Chin Empire. Siege warfare is introduced as the Mongolians cross into foreign lands with cities (a new concept to the average Mongolian) hidden behind gigantic fortifications.
The book starts straight into the action with a bloody battle- and this theme continues throughout. This is to be expected when following the life of one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known. In the prologue we stand on the plains of Mongolia watching as Genghis defeats his final opposition amongst the tribes. The uniting of the tribes marks the beginning of further conquests as Genghis sets his sights on the wealthy cities of the Chin. We meet him as a fully accomplished warrior and leader, and wonder how he will survive as he takes his newly united Mongolia into the unknown.....
Whilst Conn Iggulden states at the beginning that the book is a work of fiction, the reader can tell it is based on some in-depth and quality research- and it shows. The world in which Genghis lived, and ruled, is vividly brought to life. It really struck me how much we learn of the tribal society, its rules and the mindset of the Mongolians. We delve into the mindset of the characters and see how it has developed from their experiences and environment.
It is a testament to the author how he has developed his characters and world that we support Genghis and view things from his perspective- not always agreeing with his actions but certainly sympathising with them. Having a ruthless, pitiless, cruel and cold-blooded murderer of thousands (if not millions) as a central character cannot be easy!! Yet, somehow, when victory seems beyond him we hope he succeeds, and when he is ill we hope he recovers. The time and culture in which Genghis lived were indeed very harsh, but the author allows us to see the violence in context. Not for those who are squeamish or cannot stomach bloodshed.
Even though it is not historical, it is educational as you learn about the culture, times and history of Genghis Khan in a colourful and interesting way. There are deviances from the history books and the author details some of these in his Historical Note at the end of the book. It certainly raised my interest in the subject and motivated me to find out more about Genghis.
I found the novel gripping and exciting. It started in dramatic fashion and the pace rarely slows- in this regard it is better than 'Wolf of the Plains'. I found myself unable to put the book down as it drew me from one chapter to the next. It certainly helps that I find works of historical fiction such as this very interesting, however I would still recommend the book to anyone as it is well written and exciting.
Do you need to read the first in the series? The first book sets the scene- describing Genghis' youth and we watch his journey from a boy to the Khan of his people. We see the circumstances and environment that have moulded him. We are also introduced to most of the key characters in his life- his father, his brothers and his generals. However, the second book (Lords of the Bow) does stand on its own as a lot of new characters are introduced, and some of the characters from the first book do not feature that heavily here. However, to really enjoy the series it is worth reading them in order.
Perhaps not suitable to those put off by bloodshed or the honest and no-holds-barred portrayal of Mongolian life. Otherwise I would say it is a must read.