The Revolution series

Simon Scarrow is the author of a series of novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte. Young Bloods, The Generals, Fire and Sword and Fields of Death have been published to warm acclaim.

This is the second series of books by Scarrow and as a fan of his roman fiction I invested in these books, where the subject matter isnt one I would normally have bothered with. It tells the stories of the rise from obscurity to being the most powerful men in their worlds of Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of france.

the stories are told alongside one another from the very beginning of their very different lives, with Wellesley living with his semi aristocratic family in rural Ireland, with Bonaparte living with an idealistic father on the island of Corsica. where the young Bonaparte lives in a world of political unrest as the temperamental people of Corsica fight in factions for independence from France the young Arthur has the experience of the early years of the uprising in the emerald isle.

they both move on to their respective mainlands and are engendered with the knowledge and skills that will take them on into their adult lives. There is a rather speculative meeting at a school in the French country side which was a little whimsical but not entirely fantastical. As France undergoes revolution Bonaparte plays his part and grows in stature whilst Wellesley tries his hand at a military career before a foray into politics.

Wellesley succeeds in his conquests in India with relatively inexperienced troops while Napoleon moves up in the regime using his skills to win territories for newly republican France. all the while there personal lives are explored, their family relations as well as romantic endeavours are plotted alongside their achievements it the field. Eventually the two are pitted against one another as the rest of Europe tries to stop the spread of insurrection from the french peasantry into their own lower classes. while Napoleon contends with the russian campaign Wellington lands in Portugal to assist the Braganza’s in their struggle with french colonialism, the politics of a divided parliament back home and the apathy of the locals to be contended with before battle is joined.

while infuriated by his generals ineptitude in opposing Wellington Napoleon has to contend with the guerilla style of the russians and their ferocious cossacks as well as the machinations of the aristocrats in france vying to take control if he should fall  on his sword, this allied to Wellington’s growing reputation at his expense the stage is set for the conflict which will ultimately decide the future of Europe for the next century.

The build up to Waterloo is long and arduous for both men, the exile and escape of Bonaparte and the in fighting of the English parliamentarians hampering Wellington and bringing the likelihood of a final confrontation to its historic head.

the facts of the story are what they are , from very little knowledge of the events in real terms the book give a thorough history lesson with a small amount of artistic licence used for the best part, the battles and tactics are all accurate and any historically recorded events are recounted as accurately as any fiction writer can. the whole series is very engaging as you grow to like the characters or dislike as you see fit, what you do have is the information available to form an opinion on the fictional element, the fact that Bonaparte was a visionary isnt up for debate neither is the prowess of Wellington on the battle field, his political machinations do detract from his vaunted memory but there is nothing you could fault any of the books in the series for, and in terms of the quality of he prose it is undoubtably a tour de force for Scarrow, I look forward to reading many more of his books and hope he picks more subject matter like this as its not only entertaining but massively informative.

Where to go next

So my first book is out there in the ether, on the hard drives of numerous literary agents and there nothing more to be done so where do I go now? the old stuff was rubbish hence it stayed unwritten so wheres the value in rehashing it and would I be able to do it justice oin my current frame of mind?

I went back through all the old stuff just to get some inspiration and there was a few good ideas, badly written thus far but so was my first attempt at a novel until I flicked the switch and went into writing overdrive, the feeling of knowing you have just come up with a good/clever idea to link a character or secnario to another in the story is great and one of the best I’ve had, and froma professional point of view definitiley the best ever. I have a plan for book two and have started to do some research, its a lot harder to be accurate as by definition this needs to be set in the states and I’m not from there obviously, I have tried to do the reverse engineer thing and make it fit into an english setting but we dont have the same values and predjudices so that not a starter, so research it is and wherre does one start when they really dont have a clue on many of the subjects involved, should I even begin if the whole premise relies so heavily on stuff I dont know about.

I do know this stuff exists, that its not a brand new science fiction thing but something that conspiracy theorists have been on about since the sixties and my main protagonist is even a real person in my head with his looks and ideas fleshed out as a whole, its just the little things that need to be tidied up and made real, its a work of fiction so I dont have to be 100%factual but I hate complete fantasy situations in the real world setting and dont want to write something I cant belive might happen and worse set things in the wrong place just because I didnt bother to research where the reality actually stands.

So off I go, wikipedia is great for basics and then I go onto the websites of whoever I need to, finding research isnt always simple as some organisations dont have access to research information for writers or journalists which is a shame but part of the trials of life as a writer. the whole idea of making stuff up is to use your imagination and I dont see anything wrong with adding some fatcually correct stuff but ultimately its got to be new and original and worth reading about, add in a bit of current affairs and you should be on a winner.

I am starting to get the juices flowing creatively and will keep you posted on whats coming up, without revealing everything of course, you want to be surprised dont you?

The work begins now

So I have an opinion on peoples books formed by my likes and dislikes and based on the many books I have read before, this runs from the works of Julius Ceasar and Suetonious through to Andy McNab and pretty much anything in between.

Like most people who read I sometimes come across stuff that is low quality and I ask myself how they get this crap published, from the ex football hooligans who show their lack of social skills to the fullest in their prose to the ex celebrity who gets multiple book deals on the back of their supposed fame. Some of the books out there are not very good and I like many others thought I could manage to write a better book myself, I am now lead to believe that many try and loads succeed to write the book but very few get the work published and even fewer get a second book at all. With this in mind I went ahead and wrote my book, its just one of many I have planned over the years and the most likely to be commercially viable as a first effort, you need to think about this stuff early on as you wont get a second book if your first isnt very well received.

I went for a crime /action book as I have read lots of them and believe I understand the requirements of a decent one, having been subjected to many bad efforts in the past. I like the work Ive done and I hope others will too but I just wanted to document the effort that has gone into putting a book together. the writing went surprisingly well, I have done research for the book over the years my writers block was in place and read some background stuff recreationaly so once the creative juices started to flow it wasnt too taxing, I may have been less than sociable for the wour weeks I took to get the first draft done but other than that it was just a case of spending the time at the coal face as it were and writing what I had planned in as much detail as I could.

I call this the first draft but at the time it was it, the novel and i had no plans to adapt it or rewrite any parts, they seemed good at the time so why mess with pefection? well once i started to reread the work I realised their were huge plot holes, continuity errors and typos like you wouldnt believe. I did have a few issues with words dictionary, there are many words in common use it doesnt recognise and the vernacular of the characters often didnt fit in either which led to some decisions on who was right and where I needed to change things for the better, i usually won this round of arguements, being an animate being and not some know it all software helped I think. Anyway so on second glance the issues were revealed and hopefully resolved, this took almost as long as the original writing and was quite boring for me, I do stuff on the spur of the moment, its my impulsive nature Iguess so having to do the same thing twice was against my status quo.

Te second  draft done I manage to settle into the thing and appreciate the work I’d done, if it went no further I was happy, but I needed to know if it was any good and thereby starts the next level of work. My wife read some of it and professed it as being of the highest quality, and yes I don know she was always going to say that, she got very upset when I suggested she might be biased and she pleaded for me to believe she would have told me if there was any deficiency, she did do some editing as well and cited this as proof of her reliability in this field. Call me heartless but I didnt take this too seriously and searched for others to give me a more grounded opinion, but this seemed to take too long so I have taken the next step in the process and decided to let the professionals decide what they think.

I have now had some copies of the manuscript printed along with synopsis and biographies by a dear friend who did it gratis on the proviso he could print himself a copy to read on holiday, which I was happy for him to do but couldnt guarantee it would be a good read until I had some other opinions. this done I have delved into my writers and artists yearbook and looked ofr literary agents who might be interested in helping me get published. this done I am now in a waiting game as they take many weeks to get around to reading these things and often dont reply at all if they have no interest, which means I need to leave it long enough to allow them to reply before going to anyone else, and of course they may reply with ideas of revisions which would make my copies null and void, its not a nice situation but I’ve chosen this field for my self and must suffer the slings and arrows of indignation in the process so watch this space.

A Week in December

Sebastian Faulks was born in April 1953. Before becoming a full-time writer in  1991, he worked as a journalist. His French trilogy – The Girl at the Lion d’Or, Birdsong and Charlotte Gray (1989-1997) – established him in the front rank of British novelists. UK sales of Birdsong exceed 2,500,000 copies, and for this novel he was named “Author of the Year” by the British Book Awards in 1995. It
is regularly voted one of the nation’s favourite books. Charlotte Gray has also sold over a million copies and was filmed with Cate Blanchett in the main part.

A week in December is a novel and is novel if you get my meaning. I couldnt really begin to explain the premise in depth although i will endeavour to give a small synopsis just to illustrate my points about the book.

It is set in the week before christmas over the course of seven days in the lives of some very different characters who seemingly have no connection but later transpire to be intertwined, albeit cosmetically. The main protagonists are John Veals a Hedge Fund manager, unscrupulous and immoral in equal measure, A young Anglo Pakistani Hassan who is planning on carrying out a jihadi attack on London and Gabriel North a world weary barrister who is down on his luck. There are many more characters who all have different and seemingly unrelated lives, Stoner teenager, premiership footballer and literary critic all of whom we visit in this momentous week in cold harsh London.

The book is quite a difficult read at times as the characters change narrative and you are sometimes left wondering who it is your with at any given moment, there is a sort of genericism going on as the rich people, apart from Veal, seem to become homogenized and by the end I had to reread the earlier section to see who was who. The picture of London is one of stereotypes, mean streets in the east end, high living in Holland Park and almost everywhere in between. Maybe as a Londoner I was always going to be hard to please on this one, I have seen portrayals of my city on Tv, in movies and on the page that have fallen short in almost every case, the exceptions have been acclaimed by all and this is the measure I hold any works of fiction up to. Faulks may know london, I’m not his biographer so do not know how well he knows it but he certainly doesnt get it, and by get it I mean the feel and tension of some of his settings. Walworth is no home to subversive students but a melting pot of African and South Americans interspersed with Irish and West Indians, and the obligatory white English stalwarts who cling on to their old culture like limpets.

I would have enjoyed the book more if he had narrowed the field of characters and concentrated on the ones left in the book in more depth. I may not have got the idea behind the book as I found it annoying and distracting at times and couldnt really get into a character before we were sent into the lives of another one, who may or may not turn out to have something relevent to say or do in the end. As the week progress’s things move along slowly and I was becoming a little impatient with it in the middle, in fact it was only the hope that something important was going to happen in the end which kept me reading,. The threat of terrorism and the hope that Veals would get his comeuppance kept me going long after I had given up the ghost and I was left pretty pissed off by the time I realised that a dinner party was the finale of the book, yes a very lively but ultimately just a common or garden dinner party that a few of the main players were present at.

By the time the book ends very little of note has happened and there is no real feeling of consequence for their actions, there isnt even the feeling of wanting to know what might have happened next, it is not without a sense of irony that i read this back realising that one of the other many protagonists, a literary critic would have been exactly the same about the book based on the fact it is by a currently popular author but this isnt why I am criticising the book , I think it is well written and the descriptive element is very effective, it just falls down on the fact that whats being described isnt real enough for me, the characters were only just believable, their thoughts almost cartoonish in their stereotypes.

On the whole I wouldnt recommend the book just because I didnt really feel like reading myself , even as the “tension” mounted towards the end, which is the problem here the end wasnt really an end but a brief pause to reflect on the weeks events then life would have carried on, sometimes with some alterations as usual.

Nick Stone Novels

Andy McNab joined the infantry as a boy soldier. In 1984 he was ‘badged’ as a member of 22 SAS Regiment and was involved in both covert and overt special operations worldwide.

During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, ‘will remain in regimental history for ever’. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS in February 1993. He wrote about his experiences in three books: the phenomenal bestseller Bravo Two Zero, Immediate Action and Seven Troop.

He is the author of the bestselling Nick Stone thrillers. Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK. He is a patron of the Help for Heroes campaign.

We are now at book fourteen in the Nick Stone series of books and they have been one hell of an adventure thus far. Nick is an ex SAS soldier who by a quirk of fate ends up doing Black Ops missions for MI6/MI5 in all manner of theatres of operation. From the streets of Washington DC to the jungles of Sierra Leone he takes on all manner of bad guys usually with serious implications to his own life and those of his loved ones.

The realism of the books is down to McNabs own experiences in the regiment and he uses some great technical knowledge to flesh out what could have been a poor Jason Bourne rip off if handled wrong.

The story starts with a tragedy, a friend and his family are murdered, their daughter the only survivor and this is his first mission, the work is hard and dangerous and people get killed or injured with regularity, but its never gratuitous just matter of fact, the world he’s in. As he progresses on to new missions mostly for MI6 under some duress he still has his responsibilities to his friends daughter, he even tries a normal job at a public school but he is dragged back into the world of intrigue time and again.

He sufferers heart breaking loose and has to continue regardless, always something for him to deal with, whether its boy soldiers in Sierra Leone or missing journalists in Kabul. This is not some feel good style story, where th ends are clean and cheerful, Nick lives in the real world, where there is never an ending let alone a happy one, there is emotional and physical turmoil and Nick Stone manages to fight on in the face of everything.

There are no cliché villains in these stories, from the IRA and Taliban to russian mobsters and rogue Americans they all have basis in the world we know and there methods are matters of national interest, these things are happening today. The strength of the books is the variety he manages to inject into every story whilst managing to keep the thread going, there are no gasping continuity errors here, whether he is in the US or Estonia he knows the places he writes about and you can feel the field craft he has accumulated over the years in every part of his work.

I look forward to reading many more of Nicks adventures knowing there is plenty to be done and he’s always the right man for the job.

Voodoo Histories

Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History by David Aaronovitch

This is an interesting and thought provoking book which sets out initially to examine how the many conspiracy theories through history have been influential on our current predicaments. The book is doing so by debunking all the theories it discuss’ as much as anyone can using the weight of evidence against these theories which in most cases is considerable, and examines the fact that the facts are in no way secret so how is it there are so many people who still believed, or in some cases still believe today in most of them.

This book covers all the old favourites such as the Kennedy assassination, The princess Diana accident and Marilyn Monroe‘s suicide, it also look as at less well known ones that are more insidious and dangerous such as Protocols of Zion, the conspiracy against the Jews which ran from the late nineteenth century right up until Hitlers attempt to wipe them out, The Soviet Russian case where Stalin used his secret police to remove any potential rivals in the Communist Party, even going as far as having trials witnessed by the worlds press corps.

Some of them are just plain mental, Roosevelt colluded on the Pearl Harbour attacks by Japan or at least knew enough to have prevented them and decided not to, That Barrack Obama wasnt born in the States, even though his long form birth certificate clearly shows he was.

While others are so popular we seem to assume them to be true these days such as the whole Da Vinci code furore to Dr Kellys death at the hands of British Intelligence officers. The book is littered with some very intelligent people exposing what seem to be reasonable and believable facts as bunkum based on the premise that anyone with a brain should be able to discern the screen of sudo truths only to then give answers as invalid in theory as the ones they are trying to dispel, I was especially interested in Henry Fords crusade against the jews based on the protocols only to have the truth  thrust before his very eyes and be left with a considerable investment in the lies he had chosen to follow.

On the whole the book is very well written in a journalistic style, although there are a few wholes in some of the stories but thats to be expected when he trawls through so much material in as much detail as he can fit in without getting too worthy to be readable. The explanation of the facts are very easy to follow but as a serial cynic I was left thinking why I should believe him anymore than I would those other less salubrious commentators he is at pains to discredit, thats just me I guess, its well worth a read even if its just to revisit your own favourite theory.

Seven Troop

Seven Troop by Andy McNab.

Andy McNab joined the infantry as a boy soldier. In 1984 he was ‘badged’ as a member of 22 SAS Regiment and was involved in both covert and overt special operations worldwide. During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of
his commanding officer, ‘will remain in regimental history for ever’. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS in February 1993.

Seven Troop is Andy’s third factual book about his time serving as a trooper in the SAS. It the story of his comrades in Seven Troop, a group he was randomly given to in a jungle in Malaysia, he was immediately tagged as a crap hat, due to his previous regiment being a Green Jacket. We get introduced to such characters as Hillbilly, Nish,Al and Frank his closest mates in a very tight knit group.

his story deals with tours of duty in Northern Ireland at the escalation of the troubles, anti drug work in jungles of central america as well border patrols in Guatemala. His friends are a colourful bunch with an equal amount of bravery and insanity which seems to be a prerequisite of joining the SAS, Seven Troop are known as the Ice Cream boys due to their habit of training in the desert, where they enjoy all the benefits of army life whilst sunning themselves along the way. Freefall experts, Andy describes the training he underwent to be able to be considered a full member of the troop.

As his friends die in action he talks about the effects this had on the survivors, some stoic and unmoved others blaming themselves for everything that they could have but didnt do, Andy manages to be somewhere in the middle it appears. As he progress’ s through the ranks his skill set increases and he gets to work on more dangerous missions especially in Northern Ireland where he is part of the team who are actively taking on the IRA, know as the Detachment. He accrues more medals along the way and his friends who have been out of the regiment for a time struggle with the realities of life away from the constant buzz of being in the worlds elite special forces regiment.

I wont reveal any of the events in the book as it is a very good read and it would spoil it if I did. The only criticism is the tagline on the cover of the book, it describes itself as an Explosive Read, which it isnt, thats not to say it isnt fantastic, it is but not really explosive, the story is extremely well written by a man at the top of his game and there are some thought provoking moments along the way, some of Andy’s attitudes to informants and the terrorists he is fighting dont sit well with me but its an opinion and he knows more than most about his subject matter.

The final passage of the book is about the subject of PTSD and to be honest it could have been a great deal more important in the book as it is clearly something he feels very strongly about but it was a shame it was an addition at the end as it is a subject that someone like him can de-stigmatise as a prominent ex soldier.

On the whole another great book from McNab and well worth the read.

The Eagle series

The bestseller The Gladiator is the ninth novel in Simon Scarrow‘s Roman series about Macro and Cato, heroes of the Roman army. Other novels in the series include the No. 1 bestseller Centurion, as well as Under The Eagle, The Eagle’s Conquest and The Eagle and the Wolves

The tenth book, the Legion is about to come out in paperback and I thought this would be a good time to review the previous books in the series. The story Starts in Germania in ad 42 where a young conscript Cato joins the  second legion, after being brought up as the son of a slave in Emperor Claudius‘s palace he is soft and unused to the harsh reality of life in the legions and his centurion Macro is a hard task master who has no time for the boy initially. What follows is the story of their growing comradeship, through various missions sometimes for the special envoy, essentially a spymaster of Claudius himself. They visit Britain where they brush shoulders with Boudecia among others. Cato is very smart and a tough young man and as such he proves to be invauable to Macro, saving his life on more than one occasion.

Cato moves through the ranks to Centurion very quickly and resentment from older soldiers cause him trouble, althoughMacro stands resolutely by his side throughout. The continuing adventures have them in Gaul, The holy land and Parthia as well as fighting pirates on the mediteranean. The stories are all enjoyable and well paced with some very good tension, these guys take a beating quite often and have to overcome some serious injuries to continue in their chosen paths.

The depth of knowledge Scarrow clearly has is plain to see without falling into the trap of being too clever, we learn as we go about Roman military routine, the nightly camps, the cohorts and auxilaries, but again this information is fed to you on a need to know basis not just to show us how much he knows. I was already very interested in Roman history and these books did nothing to quell that, and I felt considerably better informed on aspects of the Empire after reading these books.

If you enjoyed the Emperor series by Conn Iggulden this will be right up your street as they have a similar feel and sit well with each other. I cannot recommend these books any more than the fact I still have all of them, not lending or giving away, which means I will most likely read them again, which is a rare thing for me.

Emperor series

The books are the work of Conn Iggulden. Born in London, Conn Iggulden read English at London University and worked as a
teacher for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. Married with three children, he lives in Hertfordshire.

This is his first series of fictional books and it is about the life and adventures of no less than Julius Gauis Ceasar dictator of Rome and founder of the dynasty of Emperors that was to last for hundreds of years and bring about the golden age of the Empire. the four books are as follows.

The Gates Of Rome; Death of Kings: The Field of Swords: The Gods of War

The details told in each book are in chronological order and begin with Julius’s early childhood and his friendship with the young Marcus, who would later become Brutus, his nemesis. The story is rich with historical information both practical such as the infrastructre and culture of roman life and the more personal details known about ceasar. The tale is well paced and you get a real feel for the environments that he visits along his path. The political intrigue he becomes involved with due to his maternal uncle Marius who fights with the tyrant Sulla for the seat of Rome, his capture by pirates and his eventual retribution, through his campaigns in Gaul and onto the battles for his own survival against Pompey and the senate.

Along the way he meets many characters of historic signifigance, such as Mark Anthony and the young Octavian who will one day become the first Roman Emperor. The richness of these incidental characters makes what could have been a historical dirge of information into a gripping tale, which given we all know the eventual outcome of the events still manages to keep you enthralled by his advetures. This isnt a white wash either, Julius has many flaws and sometimes treats people badly, although he manages to keep a core of trusted friends including Marcus Brutus‘s mother Servilia who was his lover for many years, around him as he works his way through the political and military obstacles in his way toward his goal of control of the worlds greatest civilisation.

His eventual assasination and the fallout is also described in detail, but not to the point of merely giving us the historical facts, Octavians emnity with Marcus Anthony and the civil war against Brutus and Lepidus, Marcus Anthony’s relationship with Queen Cleopatra and thier eventual deaths, end the tale in good order. I thought all the books were of equal quality and maintained a consistent level of excitement and intrigue throughout. The story isnt new and would be a hard sell to most but in this format it is brought to life again and gives you a real sense of what reportedly went on along with some creative additions that ensure a thoroughly good read.

The Conqueror series

The books are the work of Conn Iggulden. Born in London, Conn Iggulden read English at London University and worked as a
teacher for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. Married with three children, he lives in Hertfordshire.

There are four books so far in this series which tells the tale of the great Genghis Khan, his trials and tribulations as the young Temugin, abandonded by his father’s tribe upon his death, with his mother, three brothers and a baby sister, to his temultuous rise as the Khan of the Mongols, ruler of vast swathes of Asia and Europe and conqueror of the might Chin empire.

The first book Wolf of the plains tells the early part of the story, of his cruel treatment at the hands of his fathers former tribe as well as his meeting with Borte his one true love and her mistreatment and rape by more tribesmen of the leaderless Mongols. The book is a great start to the series and was obvioulsy well planned as a trilogy originally, although it does stretch on but we come to that much later. Temugin, the Khans childhood name, fights the elements, his own family and the entire will of the nomadic Mongol nation to forge an army of fearsome cavalry using their unnerring skill with the bow to destroy their many enemies. The depth of the story is well judged and never wanders from the course of the story, it is not told in linear fashion with events taking place in the present and the past overlapping as it goes on. the events are all given their due and as the cast of character builds up you never lose track of the people or events thanks to some great writing.

Lords of the Bow is the second book and it continues seamlessly from the first, with the Khans campaign against the hated Chin Empire, who have used their gold to ensure the emnity between the different tribes of Mongols. Once the khan unites the final few dissenters or destroys them where necessary, he moves to conquer China. The story shows his military accumen and the skill of his most loyal general Tsubodai. His progress is covered in detail as he fathers sons, deals with the petty schemeing of his shamen and younger brother, and struggles to be a father to Borte’s first son, believed to have been concieved in the rape she endured at the hands of tribesmen. The mighty Chin at first protected by the vast Gobi desert do not consider the Mongols a threat at first but as each city state is destroyed the Emperor is eventually brought to his knees, along the way much of the civilisation of the Chin is brought into mongol culture and military style.

Bones of the Hills is book three and the end of what was originally to be a trilogy. With the campaign against the Chin won and countless riches and land Genghis moves against the Arab world. He encounters vast armies with strange Elephants who frighten the horses and whilst his various armies spread out in all directions to bring more of the world under his sway he also has the problems of his legacy to contend with, most importantly the rape born Jochi, his other sons resent him and there will be open hostility if he is given the honour of being named heir, his choices ultimately bring this to a head and test the loyalty of the Khans generals. The end of Genghis’s life brings this trilogy to an end, and the intention is clear that Conn hadnt planned to continue the story at the time of finishing the book, he goes into some detail about the eventual lives of the Mongols Genghis leaves behind, which he then has to retell in his next book.

Empire of Silver is the story of the Khans sons and the intrigue that follows his middle son Odedai’s proclamation as Khan. Once the intial confrontation is over the new khan settles on the white plain where he sets to work his foreign workforce to build a white city of unequaled beauty, without a wall, the horses of the Tumans being his wall.

Setting his generals the task of conquering even more lands he sends them west, Tsubodai takes the next generation of Ghengis’s line with him to blood them in battle and educate them in the ways of the Mongol warriors, tearing swathes of land through russia, romania and the polish duchies, only a cruel twist of fate spared the fremch the attentions of the Mongols. There is suffering and great sacrifice from Ogedias family as they battle to keep the nation whole whilst the old guard slowly give in to death. The book is as good as the others in the series and allows for the deveolpment of new dangers to the east with the deposed Emperor hoping to use the armies of the nation of Sung, his bitter enemies and distant cousins. the book introduces us to Kublai for the first time and his schemeing mother Sorghaghtani who uses her wiles to coax the dying Khan along the path that most suited her sons, the khans nephews. It is left as a serious conflict between the rival factions seems to be on the cards.

Throughout the four books Iggulden manges to enrich the worlds the Mongols travel through with colour, texture and sound, his portrayal of the greatest of Khans is of a powerfuly driven man who had no wish to cover himself in trinkets and baubles, just the subdgation of the world.