Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson and others

In the 13th century, Europe was at a crossroads.  The Mongol hordes had captured much of the existing world and was now poised to attack Europe.  Who could stand in the way of such a powerful army?  Led by Onghwe Khan, grandson of Genghis, there seemed no way to avoid the brutality and utter devastation such an invasion would bring. 

Neal Stephenson and his co-writers have imagined this world and tell readers the story of the struggle to retain Europe.  Ancient manuscripts were given to the famous nineteenth century explorer, Richard Burton.  He started translating them but died before he could finish.  These manuscripts were found recently in the ruins of a mansion in Trieste, Italy.  The Mongoliad series is based on these manuscripts.  Stephenson is joined by some of the finest names in fantasy and swordsmanship.  They include Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBimingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey and Cooper Moo. 

One of the groups desperately determined to stop the Khan was a group of knights of the Skjaldbraedur Shield-Brethren.  Led by Feronantus and composed of warriors from many lands, they decide on a plan that they hoped would be surprising enough to succeed.  They determined to ride forth in a small group and assassinate Onghwe.  If they could succeed, all the various branches of the Mongols would return home to determine who the next Khan would be.  Although the possibility of success was extremely low, a group of knights, led by a woman named Cnan, started on their journey to find and kill the Khan.

This is the first book in the Mongoliad Series.  The book is told in alternating chapters between the stories of the knights and the Mongol court, specifically a young warrior named Gansukh and the Chinese slave, Lian, who educates him in the ways of the Khan's court.  It is rich in historical fact and gives a compelling look at the devastation of the Mongol horde and its conquering tactics.  This book is recommended for readers who love swordsmanship, ancient rites, and global history. 

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