Conqueror by Conn Iggulden

(Cover picture courtesy of Iceberg Ink.)

A warrior who would rule a fifth of the world with strength and wisdom.

A scholar who conquered an empire larger than those of Alexander or Caesar.

A brother who betrayed his own to protect a nation.

From a wise scholar to one of history’s most powerful warriors, Conqueror tells the story of Kublai Khan—an extraordinary man who should be remembered alongside Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.

It should have been a golden age, with an empire to dwarf the lands of the mighty Genghis Khan.  Instead, the vast Mongol nation is slowly losing ground, swallowed whole by their most ancient enemy.  A new generation has arisen, yet the long shadow of the Great Khan still hangs over them all.

Kublai dreams of an empire stretching from sea to sea.  But to build it, the new khan must first learn the art of war.  He must take his nation’s warriors to the ends of the known world.  And when he is weary, when he is wounded, he must face his own brothers in a bloody civil war.

Conn Iggulden’s latest book chronicles the life of Kublai Khan, son of Tolui, grandson of Genghis Khan.  To anyone who has read the Genghis series, Conqueror is a great addition to the story of the Mongol nation.  If you have not yet read the Genghis series, I would recommend you read it first to get a richer background, but reading Iggulden’s previous books is not a pre-requisite.

Conqueror paints a vivid picture of Mongol life post-Genghis and Iggulden masterfully brings almost legendary characters to life.  As with all of his novels, he inserts many details from everyday life, which makes the story more authentic-feeling.  He masterfully puts believable motivations behind all of his historical figures, which is the part of his writing that I love best.

The one thing I do not like about Iggulden’s writing is the fact that he constantly screws with history.  This is a pet peeve of mine and is perhaps just a product of my meticulous personality, but it is still annoying.  Then again, one must take into account that he is not writing for historians or people like me—he is writing for the mass market, which he excels at.  The way he writes makes reading one of his novels an almost cinematic experience and he makes history accessible to the ordinary person.  I’m actually surprised that none of his novels have been snapped up by ambitious Hollywood directors.  (If any directors or screenwriters are reading this, I think you may have a blockbuster here!)

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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