Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Mongoliad, Book Two by Neal Stephenson and others
In this second book of the trilogy, those banded together against the Mongols continue to make plans to overthrow the invaders by assassinating the Khan, Ogedei. The main group in those banded together against the Khan are the Shield-Brethren who have vowed their mission to defeat the Khan even at the cost of their lives.
As before, there are multiple threads that move the novel along. Some of the Brethren have been taken hostage and are forced to do battle for entertainment in the Khan's Circus of Swords. Between fights, they recruit others who have also been forced into this slavery as gladiators for the pleasure of their captors. Father Rodrigo has received a vision and has made his way to Rome to deliver the message he believes he has been entrusted with. He arrives as the current Pope has died, and becomes mired in the struggle between the various Cardinal enclaves as they fight to have their own candidate declared the next Pope. Lian, the beautiful Chinese slave who is teaching Gansukh the ways of the Khan's court, has determined to try to escape. Gansukh is torn between his mission to help the Khan and his love of Lian.
As the story advances, some characters die and others join the group. The reader needs to be vigilant to keep all the characters in order. Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, E.D. de Birmingham and Cooper Moo have created an intricate fantasy that leaves the reader eager to continue the story in Book Three. This book is recommended for fantasy readers.