I thought, as these books are awfully similar and are parts two and three of the same series, it would be best to have one post talking about both books. Rather than separate ones.
Lords of the Bow is the continuation of Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror series and sees Genghis Khan move away from his homeland to take on the Chin Empire. We watch as Genghis grows into a man and takes on another wife and expands his family. It’s difficult to summarise this novel and its follow up because ultimately they follow the same format – Genghis sweeps his armies across the countries that surround him, there are various battles and this all surrounds the drama of the Mongol people.
That’s not to downplay the quality of the book and its follow up, Bones of the Hills. Even this part is more of the same but rather than the war taking place in the Chin lands; it is fought in the Arab lands. Iggulden’s writing stays fluid and succinct throughout and both parts are incredibly entertaining. What these books do best is introduce tensions between Genghis and his family, particularly his sons.
In fact the relationship between Genghis and his sons is possibly the highlight of these books. There is so much emotion fuelling each moment when Genghis is with his sons. They debate as to who should be his heir and natural jealousies make for some pretty heated moments to take place.
There is also a lot of difficulty in keeping the tribes that were once enemies united as one nation and it’s interesting to see how Genghis and his advisors deal with it. There’s certainly plenty to sink your teeth into, whether it’s the baffling shaman Kokchu and his intentions, the rivalry between two of Genghis’ sons, the interplay between the wives of this great ruler or the battles themselves.
The latter of which are brilliantly executed and written with such pace and vigour that you can barely pause for breath. Having said that, in Lords of the Bow, there are moments when the battles seem to drag, but not because of the writing, more because there are so many and they are told at great length. This then leaves you feeling as if you’ve been reading the same ten pages over and over.
What Iggulden does so brilliantly is make you care for Genghis Khan, he makes you feel for him. This of course goes against what most people will feel about the ancient ruler but it’s in the more touching moments that we see the humanity in him. Iggulden may have “stretched the truth” a little with the novels, but if you want history then go grab a text book. What you get here is a picture of the sheer brutality of Genghis and his armies and much of it is written in such a way as to entertain the reader.
Of course these two books follow in the same vein as the first; they are brutal, bloody and epic in terms of story. This trilogy that tells the life of Genghis Khan is entertaining from start to finish and each part brings something new to the table. If you have any interest in Genghis or the mongol peoples this is a great trilogy to spend time with.