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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mongol invasion: honest sword fights and devious politics.
I was really chuffed when this book came up on amazon vine, because I had just read book one and now there was book two early as an advance reader's copy.
Like all of Neal Stephenson's projects, it is very well researched. The early medieval Mongol invasion into Europe is the background for the adventures of several individuals. We are following the various strands...
Published on 23 July 2012 by Nish Pfister

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Plots?
If you've read my review of The Mongoliad: Book One you'll know I didn't think much of it. In two words, it's aimless and pedestrian. Since these adjectives could describe the opening four hundred pages of most books written by Neal Stephenson (an author I greatly admire) I thought I'd give book 2 a try.

My thoughts seem contrary to most of the others here. I...
Published 22 months ago by Quicksilver


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mongol invasion: honest sword fights and devious politics., 23 July 2012
By 
Nish Pfister "nhpfister" (Chulmleigh, Devon, U K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) (Paperback)
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I was really chuffed when this book came up on amazon vine, because I had just read book one and now there was book two early as an advance reader's copy.
Like all of Neal Stephenson's projects, it is very well researched. The early medieval Mongol invasion into Europe is the background for the adventures of several individuals. We are following the various strands from the first book: the knights that try to keep the Mongols from doing further damage by keeping their leader interested with fighting games in an arena in eastern Europe, their brethren who are on a secret mission deep into enemy territory, the adventures of the young warrior on a seemingly impossible task at the great Khan's court, the young Magyar in Rome and the girl he met getting tangled in the intrigues and politics of church and empire.
I was drawn in from the start, it was difficult putting the book down, and now I'm waiting for book three. The characters are well drawn, you identify and care about their stories. The writers are really skilled in taking you into those worlds, one moment you care for the success of the knights fighting the Mongols, the next moment you care for the Mongol warrior trying to succeed in his task to help the great Khan with his drinking problem, getting into trouble with court politics.
I just hope I don't have to wait too long for book three.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Many Plots?, 11 Oct 2012
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) (Paperback)
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If you've read my review of The Mongoliad: Book One you'll know I didn't think much of it. In two words, it's aimless and pedestrian. Since these adjectives could describe the opening four hundred pages of most books written by Neal Stephenson (an author I greatly admire) I thought I'd give book 2 a try.

My thoughts seem contrary to most of the others here. I actually thought the series improves with this volume. There are still a frustrating number of disparate threads, but I found them more satisfying than those in the previous novel. Whilst something resembling a resolution seems frustratingly out of reach, the stories at least feel like they are building up a head of steam.

The novel opens with an entirely new thread. A fevered priest and young Magyar hunter arrive in Rome. They hope to gain audience with the Pope to warn of the impending invasion of the Mongol horde. Their plans are thrown into disarray when it turns out Pope Gregory IX has died. Bishop Rodrigo finds himself enmeshed in the election of a new pontiff. Fascinating though this is, it's just another story-tree in a forest of plots.

The biggest problem with these books, for me, is that there is nothing binding the multitude of threads together (this despite two of the characters being 'binders'). There is no unifying story propelling the reader on. As a result, if you were to pick up volume two without having read volume 1, I doubt you would struggle to work out what was going on. Certainly, a five page synopsis could fill in what you'd missed. There are even some events from book one that are barely referenced here, giving the unsettling feeling that the work as a whole is haphazard and under-edited.

The stories do strengthen towards the end, but not before a flabby middle section. Once again, people talk, walk and fight a lot, without doing very much. And yet... As the novel draws to a close the influence of Neal Stephenson starts to exert itself. The detail heavy seeds sown throughout the book, start to flourish. In contrast to volume one, each of the story threads are left at pivotal moments, and the novel finishes with a true sense of suspense.

The understanding built up between reader and author(s), over hundreds of pages, gives meaning to the slow burning machinations of the plot. It's starting to feel like the series is a metaphor for the Steppe: immense, bland and featureless, but with an undeniable compelling beauty. Much as few people take time to visit the Mongolian Steppe, you have to wonder if reading 800 pages of (often) lumpen prose makes the Mongoliad a place worth visiting.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The epic continues, 30 Jun 2012
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) (Paperback)
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This is very much a continuation of The Mongoliad: Book One and at one level there's not a lot more to say about it than that - if you enjoyed that book and want to know what happened next to Cnan, Gansukh & Co, then read on.

If you haven't read the earlier volume I'd suggest you do - this isn't in any sense a standalone book - and certainly don't read any more of this review, as it will contain spoilers for the earlier book.

All that said, there is something of a jump between the two books (perhaps reflecting the origin of this saga as an online, collaborative project?)

Book Two doesn't open with the fight in the underground tunnels under Kiev that ended Book One, instead it sees the arrival of two travelers in Rome, fleeing the Mongol invasion, and a new sub-plot involving a conclave of Cardinals. It is some time before we learn what happened at Kiev and the plotline that seemed to be building there - with the Livonian knights apparently seeking some kind of buried relic - just disappears, as does Feronantus's despair at Taran's death. We also hear little of Haakon's fate. Besides the new Roman storyline, this volume mainly focuses on Gansukh's attempts to save the Great Khan from drunkennes and the steady journey East of Feronantus's party.

As with the first volume, there are plenty of fights, described in clinical, moment by moment detail, and the authors again refrain from demonizing the invading Mongols (despite the slaughter they carry out), showing, for example, Gansukh to be a decent sort of chap, and even the Great Khan as a very human tyrant - as well as highlighting some obvious villains among the Westerners. I do wonder how long this can last one the characters are brought together, as surely they must be, for the final volume - given that the expansion of the Mongol territory and the survival of the Western lands would seem to be pretty fundamentally opposed.

I'm sure this will be brought to a satisfying conclusion in Book Three, which I'm keenly awaiting. In the meantime, for Kindle-lovers, there is more Mongoliad available in Sinner: A Prequel to the Mongoliad.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Adventure Story, 7 July 2012
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) (Paperback)
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This was a worthy sequel to the first book in the series. It can just about be read as a standalone novel but I think that it would be pretty confusing.

I enjoyed the first Mongoliad book but I felt that this was better. The writing is less inconsistent and it gets right down to the action.

There are moments of humour and it is generally well written. The historical background is well observed and the exposition doesn't slow the plot down.

It did take me a little while to remember who was who. There is certainly a large cast of characters!

The fight scenes are extremely well done as are all the other action scenes.
There a quite a number of them but they are quite varied. They are very well explained. and easy to follow. I am no expert but they seemed to be quite plausible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where's the next one?!, 8 Nov 2012
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What can I say about this series except that I read the first one, bought the second immediately and romped through it just as quickly and now I am waiting for volume three. Lucky you if you discover this gem of a book after the third volume is out - you can just carry on reading (and you definitely will!).

Engaging characters, dramatic historical context, and well-written and well-plotted, this is a tale that seems as though it has been waiting a long time to be told. The genesis of this as a collaborative effort is never jarring or unsubtle and the various experiences of the authors lend each cast member a different aspect and a variety that is sometimes lacking in conventionally-authored tales.

I haven't checked the historical background and I'm no expert so from a factual basis this all might be the biggest hog-wash I've ever read but frankly that matters not one jot. This is a great story on a wide stage, well told, and it also happens to be very good value. Roll on volume 3!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed, 17 Oct 2012
By 
Chess Quant (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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For a while I wondered whether we would get to the storyline about the knights traveling to the east at all. The first book had three threads from memory the Mongols, the knights that stayed behind in Legnica, and those that headed east. To this we added a fourth thread set in Rome, with two travellers fleeing the battle of Mohi. Its hard to see what relevance this has to the ongoing quest and Mongol leadership but I'm sure it will be tied in at some point.

So while competent this book is much more disjointed and less compelling than the first volume. I can only hope the final volume brings it together more purposefully.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid imagining of the mongol invasion pt2, 13 Sep 2012
By 
Russell G. Pottinger (Dundee) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) (Paperback)
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Some of this book is really clever and enjoyable but due to the nature of the multi pronged story arcs I found myself skipping quickly through certain bits to get to the story I wanted to read. The stories from the frontier between the two worlds was really enjoyable, but I struggled on some of the backstory (roman cardinals and great khan spring to mind)

A lot of this spills on from the first book, so it is nearly essential to read that first (it isn't a story you can drop into as a number of characters require the back story provided by the first book). Note that the book doesn't lead on directly from the first one, we skip to the story of a couple of characters trying to raise the awareness of the mongol hoarde encroaching into the world of the holy roman empire.

I'm not sure how this book has been written as so many people seem to have been involved, and I wonder if maybe the "too many cooks" proverb might fit this story. This is not to say that it will not be rescued by the next instalment, but on it's own it doesn't stand up for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the first, 29 July 2012
By 
A. J. Sudworth "tonysudworth" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) (Paperback)
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Really quite disappointing I found - the first story in the series was really very good - but this one seemed more
disjointed and no immediate carry over from the first and I have to say that I did not find it as good a read
I did like the original premise of a 'mission impossible' for the dark ages but in the end I thought that this was
taking too long to develop - and about half way through the book I'm sorry but I gave up
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hooked from the start, 11 Oct 2013
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I find this series to be fascinating. I like novels based around true events and places. Particularly when they are well written, intriguing and populated with plausible characters and detail. The mongol hoard and it's spread to the edges of Europe, is a part of history I haven't explored until now, and I find it very interesting. Compared to the Crusades, Medieval Europe's limited response to the Mongol threat is interesting. Was that this a matter of timing, or expense? I plan to follow the next instalment.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced historical action-adventure..., 2 July 2012
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) (Paperback)
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The Mongoliad is a collaborative series, which is to say that a group of writers all worked together on the text. It began as an online experiment in serials, with each chapter being released on completion. The print editions so far released(this book and The Mongoliad: Book One) are omnibus collections of these serial chapters - though there are more print collections to come. The stable of writers producing each instalment is diverse - there are some big names (Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear), and several others doing their debut work.

And what a work it is. The Mongoliad series is billed as alternative history, but any alterations have been minor so far (at least, I haven't noticed them). This book continues in the same setting as the first - Europe in 1241, after a Mongol invasion has brutally savaged European forces, and begun incursions into Christendom. As with the preceding text, the reader is switched between a variety of viewpoints. Some of these are familiar from the first text (knights on a journey into the heart of the Mongol empire, a Mongol Steppe warrior), whilst others are entirely new, and take the reader into the heart of ecclesiastical Rome.

As with the first collection, the chapters in this volume are quite short; this makes sense given their originally serial nature. It does mean that a reader can pick up the text, chew through a couple of chapters, and then put it down again; popocorn reading, if you will. Each chapter is self-contained, and I don't think there's one which doesn't have a cliff hanger, and a fair bit of action; the prose, whoever may have written it, is consistently fast-paced, and the result is a text which is very much a page-turner. As with the first text, the `voices' of the authors merge together nicely, and though I tried occasionally to figure out which author had written which parts of the text, this quickly proved impossible - it's (almost) all quite smooth.

There are a few issues, of course. Despite their best efforts, occasionally some of the writing does come across as a bit unpolished; not the majority, but there were a few chapters that jumped around, and needed a few edges ground off. There were a few pieces of narrative, particularly in the `knights journey' sections which seemed to have been written because they were cool, and fun to write. They were fun to read as well, but didn't really take the story anywhere. This ties into a problem with the larger narrative arc - this middle section moves the story along, but there doesn't appear to be much in the way of resolution. The final volume is going to have to wrap up a lot of threads very quickly. Ironically, each chapter provides some small scale resolution, but the larger narrative arcs from the first book remain entirely unresolved. On the other hand, the serial is actually already completed, so I suppose we shall see. However, as with the first volume, this second text ends on a cliffhanger - so do not expect there to be much of a narrative conclusion!

Overall, this is more of the same from the first volume, which I highly recommended, with a few reservations. The same is true for this volume. It's an action movie of a text, with snappy dialogue, great action scenes, some laugh out loud moments, and a few wonderful twists and reveals, all set within a carefully researched and well-drawn medieval world which is extremely believable. It also has the same issues as the original text - an occasionally uneven narrative, and a lack of solid conclusions.

If you enjoyed the first volume in the series, this is an absolute must-buy. If you haven't read that first volume, I'd recommend giving it a try; trying to start this text without reading the first is likely to lead to a headache. It's a solid, original, and clever text, and above all, a lot of fun to read, even with the above caveats.

As with the first volume - highly recommended
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The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2)
The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 2) by Mark Teppo (Paperback - 25 Sep 2012)
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