Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review - The Mongoliad (JS)

The Mongoliad: Book One (The Foreworld Saga) by Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Mark Teppo and Erik Bear
Found this one while browsing for something to read on the Kindle, I was put off initially by the amount of authors involved, but thought the idea sounded interesting, this is the description:
The first novel to be released in The Foreworld Saga, the Mongoliad: Book One, is an epic-within-an-epic, taking place in 13th century. In it, a small band of warriors and mystics raise their swords to save Europe from a bloodthirsty Mongol invasion. Inspired by their leader (an elder of an order of warrior monks), they embark on a perilous journey and uncover the history of hidden knowledge and conflict among powerful secret societies that had been shaping world events for millennia.

In this tale, the Mongols are attacking the whole of Europe. Their hordes are wiping out towns and villages and slaughtering the peoples. The Mongol Khan though has sent out an offer, if the Christian knights will part in a tourney with the Mongols and win, then Europe will be freed. This offer is carried by Cnan, who is a 'Binder', one of a group of mysterious female spies who tracks down a group of Christian Knights, with the Khans message. The knights and Cyan discover that the offer is false and decide that the only way to get rid of the Mongol threat is to send a small force to assassinate the Khan. However, to keep up the impression that they believe that the Mongol offer is genuine, the rest of the knights agree to take part in the tournament. You see the knight’s actions through Cnan eyes, as an outsider herself; you see all the knights’ faults and imperfections, however due to the atrocities committed by the Mongols the reader is definitely on the side of the Christians. The reader is also given another point of view, this time from a Mongol warrior being tutored in the ways of the Khans palace by a Chinese slave. Through this POV, you do end up feeling some sympathy for the warrior and his teacher.
The book is quite slow to start, and I did struggle at first, as I felt a bit overwhelmed by the mass of descriptions and the details about the different characters. The different fight scenes though are very detailed with some quite gruesome descriptions, but they are well done and expertly handled.
The book did eventually win me over, many reviews say the book is too flat and muddled. It is slow as I said, but I found that as you read on, it is worth persevering with, as it does get better. I was not particularly happy with the ending, but I am hoping that this will be improved on in book two, which I will definitely read.
8 out of 10

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