Graham's Reviews > Wolf Of The Plains

Wolf Of The Plains by Conn Iggulden
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Mar 25, 10

bookshelves: historical, war, favourites, asia
Recommended for: absolutely anyone
Read from March 17 to 25, 2010, read count: 2

WOLF OF THE PLAINS, the first in Conn Iggulden's series of historical novels detailing the lives of Genghis Khan and his successors, is truly a tremendous book. It's massive, easy to read, quick to get into and looks beautiful. I've read it twice now, and my second reading cemented my first impression that this is one of the finest historical novels out there.

The author's research is exemplary. Iggulden travelled to Mongolia and spent time with modern Mongolian tribesman and this gives his book a realistic, authentic background. The landscape lives and breathes along with the huge cast of characters.

As with many origin stories, the action starts off small and focused. There's evidence of some DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS influence as we follow the adventures of a group of brothers as they hunt for eagle chicks. Yet the focus on these children and their characters will shape the heroes that will appear later in the book.

Make no mistake; this is a book filled to the brim with brutal, violent action. The battles are simply riveting and played out in my mind better than any film sequence. Yet on top of that, we have careful characterisation and an exceptionally interesting cast. I enjoyed the way how even the villains have respect and strong characteristics. Eeluk lives off the page, as well as the cold-faced Yesugei, selfish Bekter, tubby Temuge, ageing sword master Arslan, sinister Chinese ambassador Chan, the obese Togrul and the wilful Borte.

Of course, Genghis himself is the central character, or rather Temujin of the Wolves. He makes for a highly appealing lead, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his adventures. Watching his determination win through time and again is what reading is all about. I look forward to following his future adventures in the rest of the series, which I have waiting patiently on my book shelf.

My only complaint is with the pacing. The first half of the book is leisurely, and that's fine. But the last half, where most of the action comes, feels a little rushed. Massed battles take place over only a few pages where someone like Bernard Cornwell would devote dozens of pages to them. I feel like Iggulden saw he was reaching the end of his word count and quickly curtailed events, but I could have done with another 100 pages to flesh out the Mongol vs. Tartar action.

Still, never mind. I'm sure LORDS OF THE BOW will elaborate on the later battles as we witness Temujin's transformation from a green leader of newly assembled warriors to a legendary, world-changing hero.
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