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on 28 June 2017
Great
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on 24 January 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found that Raiders from the North, whilst mildly enjoyable, to be overly long, with a poor narrative flow, forced and unrealistic dialogue and weak characters.

For example, at one point a horseman on campaign says "Lets pause under cover of those trees and eat some of the dried meat we still have in our saddlebags while we send some scouts ahead." This seems a very weak use of dialogue - it may be a small niggle but regularly I found myself frustrated at the way the dialogue in the book seems so unnatural.

As for the characters - at one point in the book a major character (I won't say who to avoid spoiling it) dies in the heat of battle. I can only assume it is supposed to be one of the most emotive parts of the book, but I didn't feel anything at all, despite the character being developed over the previous hundred or more pages. I neither warmed to, nor felt hostile to Babur, the central character. And because of this the 400+ pages dragged.

Other reviewers have noted that the story doesn't seem to go anywhere, with battle scene after battle scene with little of interest in between.

I feel as if I am being overly harsh about the book - I didn't particularly struggle to finish it and it was enjoyable in parts. But I really don't think this is worth your purchase, even if you are a fan of the genre. As for the book being the first of five - I'm amazed if it even gets to a third in the series. I'll be staying well away.
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VINE VOICEon 28 May 2010
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This book could be giving us insights into the history and the culture of the tribal people of central asia. We could do with some understanding about the lives and culture of those people. There is a lot of understanding to be gained by looking at a nation's history. When I started reading this book I thought this is up my street. It delivers history by telling stories from personal lives. But after a few pages already I found it difficult. It's the language, or the writing style of the author. Or it's me. I tried again, because I find the subject matter quite intriguing. But all I got was personal ambitions of a boy, stereotypes of tribal life, scheming distant relatives that need to be thwarted. It seemed a bit flat, so I gave up again after a few pages. There are plenty other books that grip me and which I find difficult to put down, this one I find difficult to keep reading. I've given up now.
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2009
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Well, there is a huge flourihing of historical fiction novels over the past couple of years, I have enjoyed the work by Conn Iggulden greatly and Steven Pressfields gates of fire is another book that immediately springs to mind. I have to say that this is a welcome addition to that group of fiction. I know its an old cliche but I really didn't want to put this book down, it has led me to have a few very short nights of sleep.
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on 18 November 2009
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Historic fiction seems to be having somewhat of a renaissance at the moment in the form of action packed books that use thrills as well as history. Alex Rutherford's new book `Empire of the Moghul: Raiders from the North' fits perfectly into this mould as it tells an embellished version of real leader of the Moghuls, Babur. The book is certainly fast and action orientated as it spans over 40 years and the many successes and failures of a leader who took over large parts of India (as it is known now). The balance between historic accuracy and fictional thrills seems to be more towards the latter. For me this is a good thing as I like my historic fiction to be full of bloody battles and action sequences; Rutherford certainly provides these.

I do have some misgivings about the structure of the book as by following a character for 40 years in only one book it does at times feel rushed and a little unreal. The way that Babur loses a Kingdom only to be seemingly given another without effort seems remarkable. However, as the book is based on Babur's own diary there must be some truth to it. The issue is that by concentrating on the major elements of his life all the massive events roll into one as if they are concurrent. Perhaps Rutherford could have made better use of the passage of time so that the reader realised that these events were years apart. The issue of time is only a small problem in what is otherwise a fun historic fiction novel that is more about battles than insight. If you are someone who likes their books bold, brash and bloody, then this could be for you.
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2010
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Here we have a story with all the ingredients to make a brilliant piece of historical fiction. We have an area of history I know nothing about, a hero who overcomes adversity and builds an empire despite set-backs, tragedy and impossible odds. And yet it isn't very good. Because it isn't told very well.

The story of Babur building his empire is an interesting one, and Alex Rutherford has clearly done his research and read Babur's diaries. But he doesn't have any flair for storytelling. There are long swathes of plot explained in stilted dialogue, there are uninspiring battles, and there are relationships between Babur, his family, various women and friends which someone like David Gemmell would have made heart-rending, but which here are brushed over in seconds.

It is a credit to the story that it is still a reasonably entertaining read, and that the closing pages almost brought a bit of emotion out of me. But after three hundred pages, I would have really wanted to care a bit more about what was going on. There is never really any tension in this story, and there is never really any characters that inspire any involvement from the reader. I presume that the publishers saw in the story of Babur the potential that is there, but I must admit I won't be waiting for the other four (!) in this series with baited breath.
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VINE VOICEon 16 November 2009
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Alex Rutherford has in my opinion joined the Bernard Cornwells and Wilbur Smiths of this world as a master story teller. He truly understands the importance and interactions of the three Ps (Plot, Pace and People). His writing rushes you along to denoument after denoument and only very occasionally gets stuck in slightly boggy narrative. His characters come to life on the page as you share their highs and lows. You will not want to put this book down.

The author has found a historical niche which has not yet been tapped in popular narrative and can now proceed to milk it for all it's worth to keep what I'm sure will be a growing band of followers desperate for the next installment. I for one can't wait.
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2009
I have very much enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the next volume. I was brought up in India and remember my history lessons of the Moghul invasions from the north but you really don't need to have prior knowledge of Asian history to appreciate it. Babur's growth from child-king to warrior-king is well portrayed. The ups and downs of his fortune were staggering: the strategic mistakes he made and the learning curve he had to go through to regain his kingdom are laid bare. From King of Ferghana and Samarkand to wandering warlord, to King of Kabul and then first Moghul Emperor of India, he is a fine illustration of the words: "uneasy lies the head that wears a crown". The reader is given a fine perception of the precarious situation of rulers whose lives were spent defending their territories from predatory rivals. The primary source material for this book must be the "Baburnama" Baburnama (Modern Library) - the diary that Babur kept and it has certainly whetted my appetite to read this, too, a sure sign that the writer has scored a success. If a writer can take such primary source material and use it to paint a picture of the age that lives, breathes and draws the reader in, then s/he has written well. This is what Mary Renault did with supreme success in " The Bull from the Sea" The Bull from the Sea and "The King Must Die" The King Must Die and her other Greek histories, for which she used Thucydides' "Peloponnesian Wars" as her primary source material The Peloponnesian War (Classics). I would heartily recommend "Empire of the Moghul" to all readers whether or not they are fans of historical reconstructions.
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on 15 January 2010
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Alex Rutherford's Empire of the Moghul series is, apparently, scheduled to be a five book series covering the rise (and presumably ultimately the fall) of an Empire which covered much of the Indian subcontinent in the Middle Ages. It's not a period or place in history that is familiar to me, but spurred on by the excellent Conn Iggulden series on Genghis Khan, I had high expectations of a novel and series of excitement, conquest, challenges, defeats and triumphs.

Oddly, though, from the outset I found the book hard-going. Perhaps because of the writing style (although I couldn't pin anything specific that I didn't like, except perhaps the inevitable information dumps from Rutherford's research) or maybe because I found the central character Babur hard to like. This latter point may be the issue, since Babur is, with a couple of exceptions, the only character developed in any real depth and seems to have few relationships of any meaning. Whilst this may be an accurate historical depiction, it doesn't make for a terribly involved story. My other gripe is that the story, which revolves around battle, victory, battle, defeat, battle, victory, battle, defeat, skip forward 5 years, battle, victory, inexplicably skip forward eight years, battle, etc seemed slightly pointless. I think Rutherford's ambition to cover so much in five books meant he was restricted to one book for Babur's life with the result that the story is always rushing to get to the next "key event".

However, I don't want to be overwhelmingly negative, since despite these flaws, there were bits of the book that were gripping, and I was interested enough to reach the end, even if it took an effort on some occasions to pick up the book again. The book is well researched and I think Rutherford has the potential to be a good author (although I've no expertise other than as a reader). That said, I can't say it's done enough to make me pick up the next in the series.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 19 December 2009
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This book is a fictionalised version of what appears to be a genuine period of history. Unfortunately, the events depicted are not a particularly interesting period of time and the fictionalised plot is also relatively weak. The characters are somewhat one-dimensional and it is difficult to care about the fate either the main or minor protagonists. The dialogue tends to be in quite elevated language and it is not credible that characters of this type would speak in quite such flowery terms.
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