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The Mongoliad: The Foreworld Saga, Book 1 Audio Download – Unabridged

3.7 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 25 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 24 April 2012
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007X50AEG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having just reached the end of Mongoliad Book 1, I am frankly astonished that Neal Stephenson has allowed his name to be associated with this novel, which as another reviewer has accurately described it, feels like a failed children's GCSE project. I like many turned to this novel having been captivated by the rest of Stephenson's work, hoping to find something similar to the Baroque Cycle but set in the world of Genghis Khan. Sadly all of the hallmarks of Stephenson's prose and imagination are conspicuous by their absence - there is no shred of humour, no attempt at characterisation, and none of the entertaining Stephenson digressions that make the reader bow to his encyclopaedic grasp of his subject matter.

The writing is simply appalling. On multiple occasions, sections or chapters end on that sophisticated technique - the authorial question... "would she ever see her friends again??". Honestly. There are gaping holes in the narrative - several times I found myself going back a couple of pages to check I hadn't missed something - and the attempts at characterisation are laughable. It is rare to reach the end of any novel and have developed zero sympathy for or affinity to any single one of the characters. Pedestrian, dull... I could go on and on.

Obviously one can point at the book's multiple authors, and how the book actually evolved, to explain its shortcomings. Sadly I think this only excuses it to a very small degree. Perhaps my expectations were too high - after all I have just come from the Baroque Cycle, Diamond Age, Snow Crash, Zodiac and Reamde (plus the excellent Ready Player One by Ernest Cline for video game afficionados, highly recommended) - but this feels like it had no editorial input whatsoever, and is simply a shameful attempt by its publishers to exploit Stephenson's popularity.

Shame on you, Mr Stephenson.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not sure why this book is published as a trilogy - the seven authors have most of the written material in the can, and the biggest names amongst them (Bear and Stephenson) are famous for the size of their tomes. Perhaps that explains why this book reads as if a long, rambling pre-amble, introducing us to three separate plot strands which are hardly connected. But a historical epic can be forgiven for taking its time with scene-setting.

What can't be forgiven is the introduction of do many 'main' characters. There are so many that it is hard to build up an interest in their actions - they ride on some horses, they get in a very detailed fight, they clean up after the fight (this novel is reaching for accuracy) and then they ride on their horses some more. Meanwhile, the b-plot about the shenanigans in the court of the Khan is far more interesting, but hardly given time to expand.

To read this book is to be given a lesson on why books are written by a single author. It is not a bad book, but it is nowhere near a great book - despite the names involved.
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By Quicksilver TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 July 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is a theory, put forward in the film Clerks II (I think) that the 'The Lord of the Rings' is about little more than walking. It's a theory with some validity. For 'The Mongoliad it's a cast iron truth. Whilst not entirely without merit, this is essentially a story about some heavily armoured knights doing little more than walk across two continents.

Regular readers of Neal Stephenson will know that many of his novels are slow to begin with. They offer long, detail heavy introductions, with asides and digressions. Plot seems secondary, yet Stephenson's novels are peculiarly compulsive; you find yourself gripped. As his novels progress, the depth of his storytelling becomes apparent. Narrative threads appear that you never saw coming, that leave the reader dazzled by his brilliance. During the Mongoliad,when nothing much had happened for two hundred pages, I wasn't overly concerned. I assumed that its threads would draw together in the final third to deliver a satisfying conclusion. This the first instalment of a new series, so perhaps I am being unfair, but this volume lacks any coherent conclusion at all.

The story starts with promise. Cnan is a 'Binder', one of a group of mysterious female spies. She tracks down a group of Christian Knights, with a message for their leader. From there a quest is born. Europe and Christianity are under threat from the rampant Mongol hordes. The knights decide the best way to neutralise the threat is to send a small detachment onto the Steppe to assisinate the Khan. The remainder of their force stays in a conquered city, to take place in a tournament. The tourney prize, the Mongols say, is the freedom of Europe.
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By Bruce TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Jun. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I must say that I loved this and it went past really quickly for me - in fact I have already pre-ordered the next part of this Saga. The only thing that was slightly disappointing was the abrupt ending, which may have been the result of the collaboration, but didn't seem like a natural break.

Given the nature of the writers' past output, I was expecting more fantasy elements - but this is rooted in detailed historical fact and this is obviously one reason for having so many writers involved - to tie down all the historical details of the period and get this right. I can also see how there are two contrasting and possibly contradictory "voices" at work in this.

So firstly we have the small party of Christian Knights who would usually be the "heroes" in such dramas - but we see them from the point of view of an outsider - Cnan, who is a half-caste messenger and guide - so we see all their faults and oddities through her eyes; although we do end up siding with them against the horrors inflicted by the Mongol horde. However, simultaneously, we follow Gansukh, a young Mongol acolyte entering the Khan's court and learning about it from an attractive Chinese woman, with whom he becomes enamoured. We gain sympathy for him and his teachers throughout the narrative.

This first part of the saga, builds up detailed pictures of all the characters involved and while there is a certain amount of action, we are mainly learning their backstory and understanding the world in which they live. It really feels like you are "immersed" in another world. There are hints of fantasy - but the surprising thing is that these are rooted in the Christian tradition.
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