My only previous experience of Conn Iggulden was back in 2008 when I read the first in the sequence of his “Emperor” Series “The Gates Of Rome”. I quite enjoyed this first part of the life of a Roman hero but didn’t get round to reading any more. Over six years later I’ve now read the opening book of his “Conqueror”series. I toyed with the idea of setting up a new historical category on the blog for this book but basically it’s an adventure genre novel set in the past, so although my little running man symbol should probably be wearing armour instead of a suit and tie, I’ll let it go!
This book was similar in format to the last of Iggulden’s books I read and it does work as well. It is the tale of the harsh life of the young Temuijin who becomes, (although I only realised this during the course of reading the book I don’t think I’m giving too much away here) Genghis Khan. Life in thirteenth Century Mongolia was not exactly much fun. Temuijin is the second son of a Khan and he and his family are abandoned and left to starve when his father dies. The family unit structure provides a good basis for Iggulden to centre his story (although I did find a couple of the brothers interchangeable and the similarity of names provides a little bit of a challenge for the reader here). Temuijin here is established as a vital character (which he needs to be as he is the mainstay of this series) as is his mother. This book is hinged on shows of strength and courage, of waiting for revenge and a chance for this outcasted family to re-establish themselves. There’s quite a lengthy battle sequence with the Tartars towards the end of the book and with these I do have the unfortunate tendency to switch off and predictably I found my interest waning a little here, but generally speaking this book provides a good balance of character and warfare. It is a well-researched slab of history set in a time and a place I knew nothing about. There are another four books in this sequence with “Lords Of The Bow” being the next one, so there is plenty left to tell. I will get round to searching out the others in due course but too often in these historical sequences it is the first book that I end up enjoying the most. I think I prefer the formative years of the characters and seeing how the power is established rather than the maintenance of that power. Nevertheless, fans of the historical adventure genre are in for a treat.