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387 pages, Hardcover
First published January 2, 2008
“Some words can be a cruel weight on a man, unless he learns to ignore them.”
“If you are asking if my family will take what they want, of course they will. The strong rule, Chen Yi. Those who are not strong dream of it.”
“While his brother dreamed of war and plunder, Temuge saw cities in his imagination and all the beauty and the power that came with them.”
“Like an island in a raging sea, the Mongol horsemen moved across the face of the Chin army and no one could bring them down.”
“From this day, you are no longer children. If you have to fight, even if it is a friend, put him down as fast and hard as you possibly can. Kill if you have to, or spare him—but beware putting any man in your debt. Of all things, that causes resentment. Any warrior who raises his fist to you must know he is gambling with his life and that he will lose. If you cannot win at first, take revenge if it is the last thing you do. You are traveling with men who respect only strength greater than theirs, men harder than themselves. Above everything else, they respect success. Remember it.”
“Genghis was far from invincible and was wounded many times in his battles. Yet luck was always with him and he survived again and again – perhaps deserving the belief his men had in him, that he was blessed and destined to conquer.”
I think what I loved so much, initially, about the series was the relationships between the characters. There were no battles, the number of main characters was limited, and you got to see Iggulden's skill of writing this handful of people and how they connected with each other. In my opinion, this really disappears once you finish the aforementioned first part of the first book.
The second book in the series, Lords of the Bow is very much battle and conquest-driven as Genghis and his army take on the Xi Xia and the Jin. There's also a good portion of this book were Temuge, Khasar and Ho Sa travel to Batou to find a mason and it was... less than exciting reading. And when they finally get the guy back to Genghis, all of a sudden it's another part of the book and they have siege engines. There is very little shown in terms of planning and development for these battles.
There were still moments here and there that I enjoyed between characters, like Genghis and his brothers or Genghis with his sons (particularly his relationship with Jochi), or the half a second Borte shows up. Subedei also makes his appearance early on in the book, and he was a character I was waiting for.
The book wasn't bad, but not as good as the first. And I have to admit that I'm having trouble recalling a lot of it to even write a review. But I'm already part way through the third book, so I'm moving right along.