Kublai, Mongke, Hulegu, Arik-Boke
Before I start my review I would just like to say that I will be reviewing the other four books in this series at a later date. This is because I read them quite a while ago and it will take me some time to re-read them and remember what happens!
Conqueror is the fifth (and I’m very sad to say) and final book in Conn Iggulden's amazing Conqueror series. The book picks up five years after the death of Ogedai Khan. The great empire Genghis carved out from the lands of the Chin and the Persians has been left leaderless for too long. Guyuk, Ogedai’s son is chosen as the new Khan. However after his untimely death, his cousin Mongke is chosen as the new Great-Khan.
Mongke wants to see the great nation of Mongolia return to its traditional ways and not be bogged down and made corrupt by the Chin that administer it. To return to old ways, Mongke sets his two brothers Kublai and Hulegu the task of conquering new lands and people for the nation. Hulegu goes west into the lands of the Caliphate of Baghdad and creates his own Khanate there. Whereas Kublai goes south-east into the lands of Mongolia’s old enemy, the Sung. In the lands of the Sung, Kublai becomes the leader of men his bother always wanted him to be and conquerors countless cities and people. However Kublai’s expedition is cut short as his brother Mongke is murdered by the infamous Assassins.
Declaring himself Khan, Kublai decides he must return to Karakorum (the centre of the Mongol empire). However on his route home, Kublai discovers his younger brother Arik-Boke has also declared himself Khan and is ruling in Karakorum! This means war for the nation of Genghis as his two grandsons will fight for their birth rite. But will the winner of the war be able to hold the nation together? Or will the enemies all around the empire pounce on their weakness?
I absolutely loved this book! It was so fast paced from the very beginning. Throughout the series Iggulden does an excellent job of describing the characters that carved an empire out of nothing. An empire that would last centuries and have more land mass than both the Rome of Julius Caesar and the empire of Alexander the Great! He does a brilliant job of portraying the lands the two brothers fight in, as well as the tactics and techniques used by the Mongolian tumans in battle. The only slight criticism I would have about this book is the emphasis Iggulden puts on cannons. I know that cannons were used at this time but I do not know if they were as effective as Iggulden suggests in this book? I am no expert on the matter, but I do know that cannons were always hard to move and not very accurate, even a few centuries after this book was based. But Iggulden has them hitting the targets every time and moving quickly into position to fire. Maybe it is because they were based on Chinese design? And because their technology was so far advanced compared to that of Europe’s, it meant their cannons were much more effective? If you know anything about artillery from this time, please let me know! Apart from that small issue the book was great!
As I said above, this was a truly brilliant book from an excellent series and I am really sad it has finished! I think Iggulden could go so much further with Kublai Khan’s story! But I suppose it is not unknown for an historical fiction author to finish a series and then return to it at a later date. I do hope it happens with this one!
Great book and series, I would suggest it to anyone who is a fan of Iggulden’s Emperor Series.
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