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92 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2007
Although this book gallops along at Conn Iggulden's usual pace, I was continually tempted to leap ahead to find out what happened next. That makes it much more of a chapter-turner than merely a page-turner, and the narrative left me quite breathless at times!

Temujin is the son of the khan of one of the many Mongol tribes who are in continual, violent conflict. Without spoiling the story for you, his circumstances force him to grow up very quickly rather than lose his life. As the story unfolds, Temujin faces death many times and learns from his terrifying experiences. His list of those on whom he determines to wreak revenge grows as you read. Eventually, he becomes the respected, feared and uncompromising leader of the great horde which dominated two continents during that age.

Had his childhood been easy, he would probably have settled down with a couple of wives and a few goats. Historic record shows otherwise, but that record hardly brings Ghengis Khan's tale to life in the way that Iggulden has managed in this book.

I would recommend this book to anybody, and would challenge them to resist being swept along by such a brilliantly told story. I just can't wait to get my hands on the next episode, "Lords of the Bow," in January 2008.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 June 2011
Quite simply a great read, one of my top 5 books of this year, alongside Simon scarrows Eagle in the sand & Young Bloods,
Alex Scarrows A Thousand suns and David Gemmells Shield of Thunder.

I have enjoyed all of Conns books to differing degrees', his best until now was his debut Gates of Rome, but this new book blows that away. I suppose some of this may be due to the fact that little is known about Genghis in his early years. I do find myself making parallels with David Gemmells Nadir nation, which I think is a compliment to Conn's work (I'm A big Gemmell Fan). The book its self, follows the young life of Temujin, through the trials of growing up in the harsh inhospitable plains of the Mongol nation through ..well I'm not saying how far this book takes him, (that would just spoil it), but the journey is an amazing one, he either had more luck than any thousand people combined deserved or he was just an amazingly resourceful cunning and driven person. The book is so well written you feel the pain and suffering of the boy and later the man, you can feel the will power he exudes over himself and his people.
It Took me 2 days to polish off this book...and thats including going to work.
I have now read it twice, the 2nd time i read it slowly over a week, and if anything my enjoyment increased with the 2nd reading.

This is a must read...do not miss out on this book!
(Parm)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2015
The perfect companion for all historical fiction enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Wolf of the Plains is a magnificent first part to the Conquerer series. Exploring the incredibly tough upbringing and rise to power of Temujin (the later Genghis Khan) Wolf is historical fiction of the highest order. Based mainly on the Secret History of the Mongols and following much of the same path as the also tremendous film Mongol, Iggulden brings to life the nomadic lifestyle, the bitter warring, and thirst for revenge that are the backdrop for the rise to power of one of the greatest conquerors in history.

Iggulden is clearly a man with an affinity for the Mongolian plains. Spending time there to research was well worth the effort as his descriptions of the scenery, of the people, of the nomadic lifestyle are drawn so that any outsider can feel the experience. The narrative that begins with Temujin's journey to find a wife and the death of his father is fast paced and gripping. Each chapter flows rapidly by and the whole joins together as at times a heartrending tale but one of overcoming the odds, of coming of age, and ultimately triumph.

Generally Iggulden does not hold back in describing the cultural values of the Mongol people. He rarely sensitises for the more fragile western mindset though there are occasions where western values creep in and those are jarring at times. The most notable is the concept of nationhood. The thought process behind this jumps out suddenly and doesn't really follow from what happens before. I mention this because otherwise the characters are so incredibly well developed that each of them is clearly distinguishable from the others including in motive and in action. While some more space for the accumulation of loyalty from those without tribes would have been nice this is an area of Temujin's story that is simply not recorded anywhere so this oversight is understandable.

As well as Mongolia, Iggulden also clearly understands young men. Throughout, Wolf is a coming of age story set in some of the most difficult environs imaginable. Temujin not only has to survive but also to learn the skills he needs for manhood including in building and protecting a family. Being wrenched away from his tribe puts Temujin at a massive disadvantage in a communal society and the decisions he has to make are hard but to be Genghis Khan means having to be a leader who can make those decisions and the boy cast adrift into the wild fights on to become a Khan commanding the loyalty of millions.

The book concludes (as do each in the trilogy) with a note on the historical facts. I really appreciated that as during the novel I'd been telling myself that it was Merkits that captured Borte, not Tartars. Iggulden clarifies where he has taken dramatic licence for the storyline's sake and throws ina couple of anecdotal historical snapshots that help only to build the world the story exists within.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2008
Genghis Khan ... there was a dearth of information for the best part of 800 years on the life and times of Genghis, and what little there was was all negative. This is not because Genghis was any more barbaric than anyone else of his time, but rather since all the history available to us it was written by the conquered and threatened (Persians, Chinese and Russians mainly). Imagine for a moment if the only available history of Richard the Lionheart was written by the arabs... how would it read? Something like ... "Brutal bloodthirsty foreign conquerer comes to our world bringing nothing but death, misery and destruction - slaughtering indiscriminately". Rather different to how we look at him.

Its only since 2004 that popular writers have begun to revise the previous historical Genghis conjured up by mediaeval storytellers to deliver a far more balanced, thorough and rounded view of this towering historical figure - Time magazine's "Man of the Millennium"

By incorporating Genghis Khan into historical fiction, Iggulden has made his amazing life story available in a ripping, easy to read book, that leaves people like me missing tube stops, staying awake extra hours in bed ... all just to read a few more gripping pages. There can be little additional praise I can heap on the book - others below have all said it before me. It's simply a terrific read on a fantastic topic.

Apart from the sequels, if others are awakened to learn more about what has largely been a hidden history (until very recetly) of Genghis Khan (and find out more about the minor historical tweaks Iggulden adapted) then I would recommend the following books - all of which are well written and compelling in themselves:

- Genghis Khan (Life Death and Resurrection) - John Man, 2004
- Genghis Khan (And the Making of the Modern World) - Jack Weatherford, 2004
- Subotai the Valiant (Genghis Khan's Greatest General) - Richard Gabriel, 2004 ... this one is not as well written as the other two. but it is a very interesting topic. Oh how I wish John Man would write a book on Subedei / Subotai.
...
and if you want to spend big for the most comprehensive source ...
The Secret History of the Mongols - Igor de Rachewiltz, 2006
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
When I first read that Conn Iggulden was writing a tale about Genghis Khan I was quite excited, after all the saga that he wrote in regard to Julius Caesar (Emperor series) was exceptional, however as always with an author you do wonder if the first series is a bit of a one hit wonder, and with little truly known about the life of Genghis much of it is supposition and based on the Chinese writing system with tales told by the Khan himself you were left wondering how epic the tale of this ancient conqueror was going to be.

Based as the first of the Caesar series was on the early life of the Great Khan, Temujin as he was know at that time grows to become a leader respected and feared amongst the tribes, and perhaps when you read this novel if your familiar with the Drenai novels of David Gemmell, would leave the reader considering that this was the tale of Ulric, for the two character are ultimately linked.

Conn's tale of the early life of Genghis weaves a magical spell around the stories and interweaves historical fiction amongst the educated guesses that create an image that allows the reader to associate with this ancient civilisation to whom many considered were just Barbarians, yet the struggles from the early age of the Khan could clearly demonstrate that he was destined for greatness, yet that is something that is obvious when looked upon with hindsight.

As usual with Conn, the characters are well rounded, accessible to the modern reader and also allow the tale to be interwoven to a realistic historical take rather than the myths that grow around men of power from ancient days.

The Sea of Grass also comes to life with the storm of Temujin, blowing across the plains uniting the modern day people of Mongolia to their ancestors, whom modern China claims now as their own. My only disgruntlement within the novel is the early demise of the leader of Temujin's allies, who was a thorn in his side for many more years, alongside his son. How Conn will decide to transfer the treachery that existed throughout the saga is going to be a mystery, yet one that will be eagerly awaited. If any man can make the history of this ancient leader accessible in much the same way that he did with Julius Caesar then it's going to be Iggulden. This tale will certainly make the world sit up and listen to the epic about to be unfolded.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Very little is actually known about the early life of Genghis Khan. Conn Iggulden uses his imagination to construct a deeply troubled childhood for the man who became one of the greatest military leaders the world has ever known - arguably greater than Julius Caesar and Alexander. Having previously seen the film "Mongul" which attempts to cover the same ground as this novel by Iggulden, I believe that Iggulden gives a much more convincing account of what might have actually happened. Although some of Iggulden's writing is irritating - for example his unbridled use of "chuckled" - on the whole he writes strong, masculine, simple English and draws the reader into a savage, unfamiliar world where the protagonists must survive hunger and cold as well as hostile neighbours. Seldom has a man had to fight so hard to survive to adulthood as the young Genghis Khan. Although it is possible to criticise some parts of the book because they demand too much suspension of disbelief, on the whole this is a thrilling and well written story with strong, vivid characters. Not only an enjoyable read, but a useful introduction into life in thirteenth century China and Mongolia. Strongly recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2007
Yes, there may be stylistic similarities between this and the Emperor series by Iggulden, but that does not mean that this is not a truly fascinating and totally compulsive thrill of a novel!

How Iggulden builds characters, tension, themes and a beautifully rich story is superb. The feeling of being out on the plains with the characters is tangible. The tension of the hunt and battle is incredibly well realised.

I learnt much about the culture and civilisation of the Mongols and have since read other more academic (and less interesting) books on the topic and found Iggulden to be virtually completely accurate in how he depicts the times and people. Where he has obviously ommitted detail , he highlights this and corrects himself in a glossary. He is bright enough to realise that some historical accuracies are not necessarily interesting!

I do recommend this book and I cannot wait to read the next one in the series. I rarely read fiction because true stories are generally far better than fiction. This book bridges that gap perfectly.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2007
I am a huge fan of Conn Iggulden's Emperor series. Having said that, The Conqueror Series may be an even more entertaining and enlightening read than the story of Julius Caesar that Iggulden so adroitly penned. I could almost feel the cold winds blowing across the steps, smell the scent of unwashed bodies mingled with mutton fat. Iggulden manages to transport readers into a savage world of the distant past where warrior tribes battle each other while simultaneously battling a climate more hostile than any human foe. Still, he manages to make his characters and their motivations human and accessable.

Young Tumajin (Genghis Khan)is the son of the Khan of the Wolves. The young warrior is being groomed to be Khan when a cruel trick of fate leaves his father poisoned and his family outcast from their own people. This is where the story begins and it is this struggle for survival that defines and shapes the attitude and deep drive that young Tumajin needs to become Genghis Khan, one of the greatest war leaders and conquerors of all time.

As in all historical fiction for the sake of literary flow there are a few inaccuracies which Iggulden addresses in his Afterword. This should leave historical literalists pleased while at the same time allowing those that are just in it for the entertainment to enjoy the journey as well.

Overall a wonderful read filled with colorful characters and a tight plot line. I definitely recommend "Wolf of the Plains" to all fans of historical fiction and high adventure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 September 2009
Wolf of the Plains is a magnificent first part to the Conquerer series. Exploring the incredibly tough upbringing and rise to power of Temujin (the later Genghis Khan) Wolf is historical fiction of the highest order. Based mainly on the Secret History of the Mongols and following much of the same path as the also tremendous film Mongol, Iggulden brings to life the nomadic lifestyle, the bitter warring, and thirst for revenge that are the backdrop for the rise to power of one of the greatest conquerors in history.

Iggulden is clearly a man with an affinity for the Mongolian plains. Spending time there to research was well worth the effort as his descriptions of the scenery, of the people, of the nomadic lifestyle are drawn so that any outsider can feel the experience. The narrative that begins with Temujin's journey to find a wife and the death of his father is fast paced and gripping. Each chapter flows rapidly by and the whole joins together as at times a heartrending tale but one of overcoming the odds, of coming of age, and ultimately triumph.

Generally Iggulden does not hold back in describing the cultural values of the Mongol people. He rarely sensitises for the more fragile western mindset though there are occasions where western values creep in and those are jarring at times. The most notable is the concept of nationhood. The thought process behind this jumps out suddenly and doesn't really follow from what happens before. I mention this because otherwise the characters are so incredibly well developed that each of them is clearly distinguishable from the others including in motive and in action. While some more space for the accumulation of loyalty from those without tribes would have been nice this is an area of Temujin's story that is simply not recorded anywhere so this oversight is understandable.

As well as Mongolia, Iggulden also clearly understands young men. Throughout, Wolf is a coming of age story set in some of the most difficult environs imaginable. Temujin not only has to survive but also to learn the skills he needs for manhood including in building and protecting a family. Being wrenched away from his tribe puts Temujin at a massive disadvantage in a communal society and the decisions he has to make are hard but to be Genghis Khan means having to be a leader who can make those decisions and the boy cast adrift into the wild fights on to become a Khan commanding the loyalty of millions.

The book concludes (as do each in the trilogy) with a note on the historical facts. I really appreciated that as during the novel I'd been telling myself that it was Merkits that captured Borte, not Tartars. Iggulden clarifies where he has taken dramatic licence for the storyline's sake and throws ina couple of anecdotal historical snapshots that help only to build the world the story exists within.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2008
Genghis Khan was born Temujin, son of Khan of his tribe, the Blue Wolves. Surprisingly much is known of his early life. It is known that when his father died he, his mother and siblings, were abandoned to die on the frigid Mongolian plains by the man who usurped the eldest son's claim to be Khan. This book covers about the first 20 years of Temujin's life. The most interesting, in fact the part that makes the book almost unable to be put down, is Mr Iggulden's description of the life as lived by 13th Century Mongol tribesmen. He covers every aspect of their lives, and, according to notes on the book, lived among current Mongol tribesmen for a time, and clearly researched the era and the history. Their way of life comes alive and is truly believable: The drinking of the blood of their living horses when food was scarce; and drinking of the horse's milk; the use of yoghurt as a main food source along with mutton; the use of mutton fat on their skin to help keep warm and keep the icy wind off their skin; living in Yurht (much like teepees, with holes in the top for smoke to escape); the many similarities to American Indians to whom they may be related (the Indians would have crossed the Bering Strait in prehistoric times when the ice was solid); the strong tribal structure making it nearly impossible to live alone without support.
The constant warfare between the tribes, and between the Mongols and other groups on the land such as the Tartars, an ethnically different group is described. Constant warfare and raiding, with swords, bow and arrow, knife, spear, and axe, was the way of life, and there was no concept of peace. A type of ruthlessness, somewhat based on the terrible harshness of their environment, made everyone hard and unsentimental. Mr Iggulden seems to have entered their world and their minds. Excellent book.
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