If you only read one book all year you'll have to admit that you're not much of a reader. But you'll want to make that book this one.
Conn Iggulden has conquered the world with his works about men who conquered the world. And Lords of the Bow is his second about the mighty Genghis Khan, or Temujin of the Wolves to his mum.
The first in the series told of his struggle to survive having been cast out into the vast frozen wastes of Mongolia by a usurper in his tribe. He finds an inner steel, claims back what's rightfully his then sets out to claim what rightfully isn't.
As Genghis, his scheme is to unite all the warring tribes of his people under one flag, one mighty mobile nation of fearsome killers out to kick some Chinese butt. Their "civilised" neighbours to the south-east have been toying with them for too long, and though they surround themselves with formidable defences, Genghis will stop at nothing to deliver some payback.
As ever with Iggulden, it's the easy eye for detail that keeps you hooked. The builds to major battle scenes are as convincing and thoroughly believable as the awesome blood-spilling itself. Feel the cold, the impatience, the smell of dirt and mutton grease and sweat, the fear and full bladders, the mindless anger and the icy-hearted malice. In this episode, matters are spiced up with the addition of wives, restlessness among former tribal leaders, snotty sons, a dark assassin cult and a dangerously noxious witch doctor.
The inevitable culture clash is stark and you find your mind awash with those times and their possibilities long after you put the book down. Lords of the Bow is a truly spectacular epic lodged so deep in "man" country it goes commando in freezing weather and wipes bacon-fatty fingers on its vest!