WOLF OF THE PLAINS - Conn Iggulden

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Wolf of the Plains
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Book Synopsis

Temujin loses his beloved father at the age of eleven and is cast out from his tribe to die with the other remaining members of his family.  This does not crush the second born son of the old Khan; instead it becomes the making of the man and so we see the rise of a legend.  Gathering close to him other people of the plains who know no master or tribal protection, Temujin through battle and wits becomes a leader to the dispossessed.  Sometimes lone travelers, sometimes entire families, these people have little to lose by following the young lord across dangerous Mongolian lands - many have already been declared dead by their own tribes.   At such a young age, the path to the unity of the hordes is clear to a boy who was raised, along with his brothers, to become a warrior king.  Like his father before him, Temujin knows that mere survival can sometimes be finely balanced on what words are strategically placed in the right ears.

Book Review

WOLF OF THE PLAINS is the first novel in a series covering the life of the mighty Genghis Khan.  Author Conn Iggulden deftly demonstrates his knack of producing stirring oratories for Khan without pontification, perfectly timing their inclusion into some truly thrilling battle scenes.  Iggulden acknowledges in the back of his book that some facts had to be trimmed in order to make this work fit into the mold of popular fiction.  Yes, this is an epic work covering the early years of a well-known historical figure but don't expect to find it pedantically correct on dates of invasions and major campaigns etc.
Slow in the first third or so, there's a lot of scenes of early childhood that were perhaps crafted to "humanize" a man historically referred to as a bloody warrior who killed thousands in his wake in the battle for possession of the Mongolian territories.  The words are given just as much importance as the actions though this is in demonstration of Temujin's leadership and not his personal relationships - these are skimmed over and relegated to the background once he is established as a leader of men.  There is a little time to draw breath and grieve with the horror of what happened to such a young boy, but not much.
The success of this book owes much to Iggulden stripping down an enormous tale for the masses.  We can call it "dumbing of down" or we can call it making it a more marketable product, but it has been done so for the ease of its readership.  WOLF OF THE PLAINS is a cracker of tale, told in such a manner that we readers are only given pause for thought on the conclusion.  One can imagine this book being a worthwhile inclusion on the syllabus of high school students, making history more accessible and appealing to learn.
Conn Iggulden, along with his brother Hal, wrote the runaway UK best-seller THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR DOYS in 2007.  Iggulden is also author to a number of books on Julius Cesar (the "Emperor" series) and other historical works.  The second book in the "Conqueror" series was released as THE LORDS OF THE BOW and the author is currently working on the third book.

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