WOLF OF THE PLAINS - Conn Iggulden
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.
He was born Temujin, the son of a khan, raised in a clan of hunters migrating across the rugged steppe. Temujin's young life was shaped by a series of brutal acts: the betrayal of his father by a neighboring tribe and the abandonment of his entire family, cruelly left to die on the harsh plain. But Temujin endured--and from that moment on, he was driven by a singular fury: to survive in the face of death, to kill before being killed, and to conquer enemies who could come without warning from beyond the horizon.
Through a series of courageous raids against the Tartars, Temujin's legend grew. And so did the challenges he faced--from the machinations of a Chinese ambassador to the brutal abduction of his young wife, Borte. Blessed with ferocious courage, it was the young warrior's ability to learn, to imagine, and to judge the hearts of others that propelled him to greater and greater power. Until Temujin was chasing a vision: to unite many tribes into one, to make the earth tremble under the hoofbeats of a thousand warhorses, to subject unknown nations and even empires to his will.