Wolf of the Plains is the first part of Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror series, it tells (or perhaps, retells) the life story of Genghis Khan. I’ve always been a fan of history and thoroughly enjoyed Iggulden’s earlier Emperor series that told of the rise of Julius Caesar, so, knowing little about the Khan dynasty I couldn’t wait to dive in.
The series certainly starts with a bang as we see a baby born under the name Temujin with a blood blister in his hand, a sign we are told, that represents death. After such an ominous start we follow as Temujin grows up with his brothers and enjoy the camaraderie that they experience. However, it’s not long before events become much more grisly and after the death of their father, the Khan (leader) of the Wolves, the brothers are betrayed and left in the wilderness to die as the Wolves camp moves on.
The plot then follows as Temujin and his brothers survive in the wilds of the plains and plot revenge against those who betrayed them. We also watch as Temujin becomes power hungry and devoted to the abolishment of the scattered tribes so that he could unite the Mongol people as one.
Perhaps the best thing about Iggulden’s writing is how he gets you to feel for Temujin and you even begin to yearn for him to take revenge despite knowing where his life will take him and that his actions are wrong by modern day standards. I found myself cheering inside as Temujin or his brothers took revenge on their enemies but then feeling a slice of guilt as what they actually did sank home.
This was never going to be a truly happy tale, nor one of friendly conversations around a campfire. The brutalities of some scenes are tremendously authentic to the age and are utterly gripping, but then the same could be said for the rest of Iggulden’s writing. He writes with such pace and attention to detail that you are constantly enthralled and the pages almost turn faster than you can read. It always makes for a more enjoyable read when you can feel the passion of the author in their words and Conn certainly has a passion for the subjects of his novels.
Of course it isn’t wholly accurate, for the sake of the storytelling, but it never matters. It’s only after a little research for this review that I even found the small discrepancies, but those looking for full historical accuracy may be left wanting.
I enjoyed the novel immensely and as the four other parts sit next to me, I won’t have to wait long before I can crack into the second part. Of course this review is on the shorter side because I will be writing about each part as I read them. I can safely say that if historical fiction is your thing, this book will satisfy that urge.
Available now from Harper. Paperback – 480 pages, Fiction, Kindly sent by the publisher.