The Mongoliad (Book 1) by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo
I don't know why, in my head, I thought this story was going to be a fantasy. Not that it wasn't fantastic, it was just surprising to find this is more along the lines of historical/speculative fiction. And there's a lot going on this book.
Mongol's have taken over Europe and Asia. Cnan a Binder--a Binder is someone who helps people find their paths?--is sent to guide a small band of knights on their quest to overthrow the Khan of Khans. Gansuhk, a mongol warrior, ordered away from his comforts of roaming the steppes on horseback to the court of the Khan of Khans...Why? To control the Khans drinking habit.
I admit, I'm not familiar with any of the authors of this book, so I have the luxury of not being able to pick out one author's hand from the other. But with quests, assassination attempts, gladiators, and half-assed romances (I will return to this point), I daresay that many authors was needed to keep the facts straight. The only thing that struck me as structurally odd, while most of the dialogue was written to sound older, occasionally I hit a chapter overloaded with curses...and I had to wonder if that was to give emphasis to the moment, or that particular author's preference. I do have to give their credit though, the book was a constant balance of dark and light. Descriptions of natures beauty followed by the horrors of war, the harsh existence out in the countryside where life is brutal but true, to the quiet courts of Khan of Khans were everyone has their own agenda... This is at its a core, a medieval adventure. And there's nothing wrong with that.
But (I did say something about half-assed romances) Cnan, the female lead, has developed a certain fondness for Percival. Gansuhk will love his Chinese-slave-tutor, Lian. But everybody in this story seems to have an agenda that prevents them from revealing their feelings. And I don't really know if the extra connections are going to go somewhere or if they're just in there as useless flavorings. Will Cnan make a move on the virgin knight? Will Gansuhk free his oppressed teacher? Will they all be slaughtered in battle? And what the hell happened to Haakon? And the book ends, during a bit of rising climax leaving the quests uncompleted and the questions unanswered. A shameless ploy to get the reader to buy the next installment...Which I will.
I should say, even though I really enjoyed this book, I don't think everyone will. This is a nerd's book; it's about the adventure and the escape from reality. It's about the little guy ferociously overcoming enormous odds no matter how improbable victory would be in the real world.This is the book of the D&D fan.
Review's original post date:
Jan 18, 13
Jan 18, 13