Wednesday, March 07, 2007

BOOK REVIEW - Wolf of the Plains

Wolf of the Plains
Conn Iggulden
HarperCollins, 2007
458 pages

Hey kids guess what? Today I am serving up ANOTHER book review featuring the work of Conn Iggulden For those of you keeping track* that makes three out of the eight books I have read this year, which is 37.5%, and 1,569 of the 2,898 pages I have read so far this year, or 54%. Considering the kudos I have given his books recently and the fact that they compromise over half of the pages I have read so far this year (and we are just sixty-six days in) I think it is pretty clear that I like Conn Iggulden’s books. Perhaps more than is healthy. Let’s get to it, then.

Wolf of the Plains is the first book in a series spanning the career of Genghis Khan, beginning with, conveniently enough, with the birth of Temujin, as he was named, in the depths of a storm. Iggulden handles the circumstances surrounding Temujin’s birth in a short prologue before delving into the meat of the book. This books basically covers the time from when, at nine years of age, Temujin was taken to the Onggirat tribe to work in his future wife’s tribe until he reached manhood. While Temjuin’s father was returning to his tribe he was poisoned by Tartars and died, leaving the tribe without a leader and Temujin and his brothers without a father. Rather than accept a boy as leader, the tribe abandoned Temujin and his family to their fate.

I do not think it is a spoiler to point out the fact that Temujin survives the harsh Mongolian winter and begins to build a following. The novel culminates with Temujin leading the warriors of several tribes against the Tartars, cementing his reputation as a unifier of the Mongols and opening the door for his empire to be born.

To be honest I am not sure what praise I can heap on this novel that I have not already given to Iggulden’s previous works. I find all of his characters to be distinct individuals, even when they dip into the realm of cliché, and I have found that I tend to prefer his versions of characters over others. I enjoy his prose to a truly ridiculous degree and while I am reading his works I am able to envision the action in my head and this makes his books very difficult for me to put aside. Suffice to say that in Wolf of the Plains Conn Iggulden has served up another fascinating, and Twinkie-free, take on history, and this time a history with which not too many people have more than a passing familiarity. I highly recommend this book if historical fiction is something you can read.

* If anyone out there is actually keeping track of this sort of thing please stop. It takes creepy and obsessive to a whole new level of uncomfortableness and when I can say that, well, damn.

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