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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More excellent stories on medieval fighting, politics, friendship, honour....
The mongols have a vast empire, but cracks are showing. Their Khan doesn't cope well with life as an emperor, with a big court and administration, he drinks. He tries to reconnect with the spirit of his ancestors by going on a hunt for the great bear. The young warrior who suggested it was sent by his brother to help him, but can he break through court politics,...
Published 14 months ago by Nish Pfister

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the end... perhaps the end of the beginning?
This is the third volume of "The Mongoliad" and at nearly 800 pages, it is almost twice as long as the previous two - not that it seems long: the pages rattle by.

In one sense, the book is easy to review. It is just as good as its predecessors, and if you have read those, you will want to see how things get wrapped up. If you haven't read the other books, this...
Published 11 months ago by D. Harris


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the end... perhaps the end of the beginning?, 30 April 2013
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is the third volume of "The Mongoliad" and at nearly 800 pages, it is almost twice as long as the previous two - not that it seems long: the pages rattle by.

In one sense, the book is easy to review. It is just as good as its predecessors, and if you have read those, you will want to see how things get wrapped up. If you haven't read the other books, this isn't the place to start - I'd recommend you go and look at reviews of The Mongoliad: Book One and decide if it's for you or not.

But at another level, it may be worth saying a little about the trilogy as a whole, and about how much Volume 3 does, or rather doesn't, provide "closure".

These books make up a true epic, ranging across thousands of miles of medieval Europe and Asia, featuring characters from (in modern terms) Italy, Spain, England, Germany, Poland, Russia, Mongolia, Korea and Japan. They capture a tipping point in history when Western Europe - "Christendom" - seemed poised to be swept away by invaders.

For most of the 1500-odd pages of the cycle, we have followed four threads of the story.

- In Mongolia, the Great Khagan, son of Genghis, passes his time in drunkeness. Around him are the normal intrigues of any Imperial court, heightened by the Mongols being a roving, nomadic people, not accustomed to settled palace life. Honest, bluff warrior Gansukh, untutored in the ways of the Court, arrives on a mission to save Ogedei from himself, making friends and enemies as he does so. Outside the imperial palace, Genghis Khan's mysterious "spirit banner" stands brooding.

- In Hunnern, which I think is in modern day Poland, European knights fight to the death with enslaved warriors from across the empire, seeking, as champions, to prevent any further advance by the invading Horde.

- A small group of knights from the ancient Shield Brethren, despairing of this, has set out across thousands of miles to find and kill the Khagan.

- A conclave meets in Rome to elect a new Pope. The process is watched and manipulated both by Orsini, Senator and ruler of Rome, and by the Holy Roman Emperor, encamped with his troops in the hills outside the city.

In this third book, the war party of Shield Brethren are finally closing on Karakorum, site of the Khagan's palace, even as he leaves to renew his faith in himself by hunting a great bear. The remnants of Europe's chivalry, at Hunern, are trying to fight back against the Mongols (though hampered by schisms and feuds) and a Pope is - finally - elected.

Moving between these threads, the pace never flags. Each is resolved, after a fashion, and the story is never less than entertaining. Yet I did wonder if in the end this saga isn't actually rather less than the sum of its parts. For example, the Roman story never intersects with the others: while eminently readable, I do wonder if it couldn't simply have been cut, to leave three books of more moderate length. And the various hints of mystical artifacts scattered thoughout the books - the Grail, the secret in the tombs at Kiev, the Pope's ring, the spirot banner (and the sprig cut from it) - never come to anything. Nor does the stuff about the ancient origins of the Shield Brethren, the Livonian knights, or the mysterious Binders.

It seems to me clear that the authors have built in hooks for further sequels (whether those ever appear we'll have to see) where presumably this will be explored further, and at the end of this book almost all the main characters are in motion (mostly on horseback) heading purposefully towards the next volume. However I feel a bit cheated by the way that so much material that this story (across all three books) dwells on is simply left unresolved: all those crossbows hanging on the wall in Part 1 that remain unfired... which is why I have only given this concluding volume three stars. In large part, that reflects my slight disappointment with the outcome of the trilogy as a whole, rather than criticism of this book in particular.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More excellent stories on medieval fighting, politics, friendship, honour...., 22 Feb 2013
By 
Nish Pfister "nhpfister" (Chulmleigh, Devon, U K) - See all my reviews
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The mongols have a vast empire, but cracks are showing. Their Khan doesn't cope well with life as an emperor, with a big court and administration, he drinks. He tries to reconnect with the spirit of his ancestors by going on a hunt for the great bear. The young warrior who suggested it was sent by his brother to help him, but can he break through court politics, intrigues, the Khan's depression, or will he be caught and ground down in this net?
A small group of the shield-brethren, a mysterious order of warrior knights, are on a lengthy journey beyond the world they know to strike at the heart of the enemy. Can they succeed against overwhelming odds?
Others of their order are trying to keep the mongols occupied to prevent them from advancing deeper into Europe by participating in gladiatorial fights in an arena. They also get in contact with fighters the mongols keep as prisoners, because there is a plan... Will this work, given the rivalries and enmity of other knight orders that are supposed to be on their side?
Then there are the binders, mediators and couriers, remnants of an old sisterhood who are relying on intuition to move nearly unnoticed through society and nature. One of them is guiding the shield-brethren through the steppes and deserts of the east, another is working as an advisor to emperor Frederik II, another is caught up in the politics in Rome, where there is a stalemate in the elections of a new pope, with the senator of Rome, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the cardinals are in a clinch for power and influence. A mad priest who gets his hands on the Holy Grail adds more complications...
They are all wonderfully well told, these stories that transport you into medieval times, making you identify with the persons struggling with difficult situations, their sense of duty and honour, their loyalties and friendships. I hope we get more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mongoliad: Book Three (The Foreworld Saga), 15 May 2013
By 
S. Bruch "Shelbycat" (Llanelli) - See all my reviews
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I've been a fan of Neal Stephenson for many years, and particularly enjoyed Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, two excellent examples of his ability to skillfully weave a gripping fictional storyline in with real historical events and characters.

I was initially sceptical of The Mongoliad though, as with other collaborative projects there's the risk of too many cooks spoiling the broth. This isn't an ordinary collaboration though - it began life as a series of apps intended to create a semi-fictitious universe, unconstrained by the traditional text novel structure. Stemming originally from Stephenson's desire to create genuinely authentic combat scenes, it grew from a collection of short stories into a significant project, spanning nearly eighteen months and involving quite a list of authors, mediaeval combat experts and others.

A fascinating project, but it also raises another concern - will it translate to a traditional text novel? Fortunately, the answer is a definite 'yes'. Fans of Stephenson will immediately recognise his hand - the melding of the scientific with the mystical, the ability to bring history to life in a way that a textbook simply cannot (I've found myself regularly referring to Wikipedia to figure out which bits are real historical events and which bits are fictitious); the meticulous obsession with getting the details correct (the initial motivation for the project, after all) but it's also obvious that it's not solely Stephenson at the helm. That's not to say that the writing style is inconsistent - I never got the sense that the storyline was handed back and forth between the authors - but I think real diehard fans of Stephenson (or any of the other authors) will notice the difference.

The story itself is quite multithreaded - book three of this series picks up quite an advanced storyline, but includes enough background that you wouldn't need to have read the previous two books to quickly pick up the relevant information. As a whole, The Mongoliad obviously benefits from its origins as a much larger project - the characters are already mature, believable people and the environments and events are described in quite beautiful detail.

Overall though, I was a little surprised that there was so little interaction between the parallel threads of the story. Other reviewers have commented that the story felt a little unfinished at the end too - perhaps both symptoms of the fact that we're just viewing facets of a larger world. Without wanting to give away plot details I got the impression that there is more to come (or at least the opportunity for more) - so many of the sub-stories were not resolved (admittedly this will always be difficult when you're building around real people and events - you have to stop somewhere), but it certainly didn't finish on a cliffhanger.

One important point that hasn't really been discussed in reviews of the books is that the story may have been intentionally left partly unresolved. The project was conceived with the expectation that fans would continuously enrich the world The Mongoliad is set in ('Foreworld'), via an online community. A story with all the ends neatly tied up would discourage further writing - considering the project as a whole, that compulsion to further develop the storylines of the (surviving) characters can potentially enrich the universe much further, from a much wider pool of contributors.

As a novel on its own, there are a few criticisms one could direct at The Mongoliad. However, as an example of what's possible in a new and relatively untested creative writing paradigm, it's a really exciting example of just one of the possible outputs (according to the project website The Mongoliad is just the first story set in the Foreworld universe). I arrived a bit late, but I'm really looking forward to what happens next.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent conclusion to the alternate history epic..., 17 Feb 2013
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Epic in scale, a marathon read, perhaps too much., 13 May 2013
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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If you are looking for a vast 'sword and sandal epic', one on a scale so great that it required several authors in collaboration to create it, then this is for you. The team of writers seem to have relished laying on the detailed colour and characterisation and action, and confusing us with a plethora of names. Fortunately, there is a reasonable fabric of interwoven story underlying it all.

However, having read the previous two books I found this one became too much of the same old trudge, and eventually it was boring. It has taken me ages to finish it - always a bad sign when other things are tending to distract me away from the book in hand. To help keep up my interest in it I even had some fun trying to work out who had produced which individual bits and which were joint efforts.

Perhaps the writing was becoming too self-indulgent, maybe there was an imperative to tie-off the loose ends created in the first two books, or maybe it was getting out of hand and someone decided to haul on the reins to bring it back in check. Am I being too critical? But looking back on it, I think it could possibly have stood on its own better without the earlier books already having given us so much about the many background threads in the tapestry.

If it is the kind of fare you are keen on then there is plenty in it to satisfy the hunger, but if you are not an enthusiast for the genre I would suggest giving it a miss.

There are also some short 'SideQuests' such as Sinner, but for a full appreciation of the sequence enthusiasts should first read;
The Mongoliad: Book One
The Mongoliad: Book Two
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good finale to the mongoliad trilogy, 4 May 2013
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle, Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
I liked the whole trilogy. Good style, interesting ideas. I especially liked how different cultures of the era are shown to interact. My only concern was that the name of Istvan was spelled throughout the novels without an accent mark on the "a", when it should be the same character we had in "Cnan". But I suppose it's a problem to a few only.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a reasonably good read, 31 Mar 2013
By 
Larry Hughes - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle, Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
It was very good but left a lo to the readers imagination. Needed more joining up together to rate it higher
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical novel, 19 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle, Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
I have now read all three of this series, and have found them very enjoyable. They are interesting from a historical perspective, but with added bonus of gripping actions sequences which would appear to be very detailed and I am sure historically acurate. The plotting is quite complex and cover four separate story lines, but it is well worth the effort to get into the books.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic Conclusion, 7 April 2013
By 
Bruce "from Brighton" (UK - England) - See all my reviews
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This third part of the trilogy is much, much longer than the second, but moves at a similar pace, with the story focus split between the same, small groups of characters. We do however, get a lot more answers in this part and parties start to intersect and finally meet in conflict.

Having recently read Anathem, I feel that this series is very much written in Neal Stephenson's style - but with more historical accuracy, more gory battles and less philosophical dialogue. The martial arts fighting shows a clash of clutures and is much more central to the action here and this is no doubt the reason why we have this unique collaboration with specialists in combat, the geographical locations and the historical period.

If you liked parts 1 and 2, then no doubt you felt compelled to read on and it does take you in its grip - if you haven't read the earlier parts, then this is not the place to start. We have more and more characters and groups of characters. The mystical, religious aspects come to the fore, but are not resolved. What does the Mongol banner represent - is it linked to the tree of life? Does father Rodrigo find the grail and receive divine wisdom or does he just go mad?

As the end approached, I got the feeling that time was running out for some threads and there may be a sequel on the horizon. Some of the best characters have been saved for the future and I personally enjoyed the mystical side of the book more than the fighting - which became quite wearying - you almost felt you had fought all those battles yourself, by the end.

Overall though, this has been an enjoyable ride and it really immerses you in the period and the vast landscapes travelled by the protagonists. I could have done with more about the visions and the motivations of characters like Feronantus and Percival; so I am hoping that there will be some kind of continuation into the next period of history.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic continued, 9 Feb 2013
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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Despite its huge size this was quite a quick read. It flowed very well and though each chapter was about another set of characters it didn't seem disjointed. There were plenty of cliff hangers but fortunately it wasn't breathless. I was impressed at how distinctive many of the characters were.

The historical background was extremely impressive and the exposition was very well handled.

I have read the previous two books but I did fear that this would take time to get into as I had forgotten some of the characters but that wasn't the case.

*********Spoilers*************

If you have liked the first two books than you should like this. Though I can see some people not liking the length of the book and that not everything is completely resolved.

A very minor point but some of the flippant chapter titles took me out of the story a little bit.
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