Monday, 3 November 2008

Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden

HarperCollins €16
AVID fans of Conn Iggulden's work will love this. I wasn't that gone on it, to tell the gods' honest truth.
Genghis Khan, having galloped through two enormous books and across Asia and Europe already, is now taking on the Arabs and Persians and Afghanis.
He hasn't a lot of time for his most talented son, Jochi - partly because he's convinced that Jochi is not his but the child of rape.
Chief fomenter of this rumour is Jochi's pettish brother Chagetai, who's determined to cut Jochi out of the succession.
Iggulden uses this conflict as a loose structure to hold together some wonderful set-pieces on the real battles fought by the Mongols in their advance westwards.
He switches viewpoints frenetically - from Genghis to his wives Borte and Chakahai, his sons and generals and the judo champion who teaches the Mongols to wrestle.
The battles are described with the kind of immediacy that would make you suspect that Iggulden has a time machine stashed in his writing room.
He hasn't stuck to the legend - his Genghis is a black-haired Mongol, not the green-eyed redhead of the old stories - but he's stuck close to the records of conquest and cruelty.
For those who loved the first two of the Conqueror series, the third will complete the tale.

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