Michael's Reviews > The Mongoliad: Book One

The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Jun 18, 2012

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Read from June 18 to 22, 2012

The Mongoliad is a perfectly pleasant way to waste a few hours while you wait for George R. R. Martin to write The Winds of Winter.

At least that's what it is in its present form; in its original form, as a sort of collaborative multi-media presentation, it may have been more interesting. I'm not interested enough to pay the $49.99 to find out. As it is it's an alt-history (I don't know how much "alt") written, as another commenter put it, "by a committee of weapons nerds." The result is page upon page of excruciatingly and confusingly detailed descriptions of where each of the many many warriors puts his foot while blocking his enemy's spear with the crossguard of his sword. (Surprisingly, I think they got a few things wrong--as I understand it, Mongols used thumb grips for their bows, and really there's no way Lian the beautiful slave girl could draw one without spending a lot of time in whatever they used for gyms in those days).

The "committee" aspect does make the style a bit uneven, but really that's not a big deal, because there's not much style to speak of here. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a Neal Stephenson book.

But really I'm quibbling. As I say it's a fine time-waster if you like this sort of thing. I rather like the sheer volume of Stuff the authors cram into it--maybe each one wanted to get his favorite thing in. The noble band of knights seems to include one member from each manly region of Christendom, each with his own super-weapon (there's even an alchemist!). There's a lot of name-dropping of languages (Ruthenian! Tocharian! (actually isn't that one a little anachronistic?)). Koschei the Deathless gets a mention. The freaking Holy Grail is around, quested for by a pure knight named Percival.
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