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518 pages, Hardcover
First published March 24, 2009
“We are not here to earn riches with a bow. The wolf does not think of fine things, only that his pack is strong and no other wolf dares to cross his path. That is enough.”
“All men die, Genghis. All. Think what it means for a moment. None of us are remembered for more than one or two generations." He raised a hand as Genghis opened his mouth to speak again. "Oh, I know we chant the names of great khans by the fireside and the Chin have libraries running back for thousands of years. What of it? Do you think it matters to the dead that their names are read aloud? They don’t care, Genghis. They are gone. The only thing that matters is what they did while they were alive.”
“Be careful of raising me too high, brother. I have no special strength, unless it is in choosing good men to follow me. The great lie of cities is that we are all too weak to stand against those who oppress us. All I have done is see through that lie. I always fight, Kachiun. Kings and shahs depend on people remaining sheep, too afraid to rise up. All I ever did was realize I can be a wolf to them.”
“Men always die in war. Their kings expect it. I want them to know that if they resist me, they are putting their hand in the mouth of a wolf. They will lose everything and they can expect no mercy… This is a hard land and the people are used to death. If I am to rule them, they must know that to face me is to be destroyed. They must be afraid, Chakahai. It is the only way.”
-All life is a prelude to death. To serve me until you are a corpse, or to be cut down and become one. You have only two options before my blade.
Why did I like it more? There was definitely less of Temuge and Kokchu, neither of which I particularly liked in the previous book. Kokchu was too simplistic a character in my opinion, and Temuge annoyed me whenever he came up. Both are in this book, but they are way more tolerable here.
The battle scenes, while written in the same style as Lords of the Bow, seemed to draw me in a lot more as well. And although this book is centered around the Mongol campaigns against the Khwarezm Empire the battles don't completely dominate the book. This left room for my favourite part about Iggulden's writing - the characterizations and the complex relationships he creates and describes so well.
Jochi is a major figure in this book. We've known from the first in the series that Genghis never really accepted him as a son. This comes to the forefront in Bones of the Hills as we see the extremely strained relationship between Jochi and Genghis and between Jochi and Chagatai. I really loved the way Iggulden developed Jochi as a character. The scenes with him and Subedei or him and Genghis were some of my favourite parts of the book.
Subedei and Genghis are also excellent characters in their own right. Actually, all of the main ones are. But I'm still disappointed at the lack of Borte. It's pretty obvious by this book that she was never intended to be much of a character but it seems like such a waste, especially when Chakahai is featured more prominently. But then at some it hit me why she played a bigger part in the story and it all made sense. The series still needed much more Borte regardless.