This is the third book in the `Mongoliad
' sequence. The series was initially written collaboratively between the various authors, with each chapter being published individually on the internet, a sort of cross between The Lord of the Rings and Wikipedia. The text in the print editions is a slightly revised, "author's preferred" version of that originally published online. There's a large stable of writers producing chapters for The Mongoliad, ranging from debut authors through big names like Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear. Interestingly, it's quite tricky to guess which authors have had a hand in which chapters.
This third part of the Mongoliad is an absolute doorstop of a novel - it's roughly the size of both preceding volumes squished together. As with the previous two volumes, the reader is switched between a variety of character viewpoints. Most of these will be familiar from previous books in the series, and progress and conclude existing storylines, rather than introducing new characters or concepts.
Structurally, the text will be familiar to anyone who has read the novels that come before - bite-sized chapters from a character's viewpoint allow the reader to pick up and put down the book easily - it's harder to get tired of a character when the next viewpoint change is only a few pages away. As noted above, the authorial voices manage to merge together almost seamlessly, providing a consistent - and good - narrative experience. The short chapters also seem to work well with the hectic narrative pace, driving the reader to get through "just one more page" before putting the book down.
Some of the issues I noted in volume two
are less prevalent here; the prose is generally smoother, and there are fewer `rough' chapters. Fittingly, given that this is the conclusion of a trilogy, many of the plot points are wrapped up over the course of the text, or at the conclusion, and where the reader Is left with a cliff-hanger, it's a nicely dramatic one, rather than having the impression of a forgotten loose end.
I won't spoil the plot here by indicating which arcs are resolved and how, but it's worth noting that the lack of resolution in the second volume is made up for in this third instalment. There's the usual assortment of chases, witty banter and brutal-but-technically-correct swordplay, but there's more of a structural sense to this part of the text, as each piece of action is used to drive the plot, and the reader, toward the climax and denouement.
Overall, then, this is a solid concluding entry in the Mongoliad trilogy. There's a fair amount of sword fights, some historical events, solid and often witty dialogue, and a few genuinely touching moments. Things Happen. Conclusions are provided. Characters, major and minor, live and die and win and lose. It's more of the same from the first two volumes, but turned up to eleven. If you enjoyed those, then you owe it to yourself to read this conclusion. If you have yet to read the first two parts of this series - why are you reading this review? Go and read them, instead!
A solid conclusion to an epic adventure; a few rough edges, but technically and narratively an excellent piece, very much worth reading.