Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Genghis, Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden

Title: Genghis: Lords of the Bow
Author: Conn Iggulden
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bantam
Published: 2010
Pages: 416

Rating: 3 out of 10

When this book opens, Genghis Khan has already become a powerful, feared conqueror as he leads his armies into further battle and schemes to take the Chin empire.

I picked this book up at a used book sale, even though it was the second in a series, because I find Genghis Khan to be a very interesting historical character.
However, I got the impression that I was missing something as I read the book. Events that occurred in book one are not explained to the reader, and some re-appearing characters were not re-introduced. As I did not read the first installment, I cannot say whether this lack of character and story building is a writing flaw or simply my fault for reading only the middle book.

That being said, I do not think that I will be picking up any of the other books in the series. I really didn't care for this book and was glad to finish it. It made for tedious, dull reading.

This is the type of book that some may call "action packed" or "exciting adventure," while others (myself, for example) might say that it was boring and uninteresting in every way.
The book certainly contains a lot of action: there are countless battles and war strategics, transportation of armies, and political maneuvering. Mostly, though, there are battle scenes.
I love things like that in historical fiction, but I firmly believe that there should a finesse to it all, reflecting the expansive, tireless planning of the men in command and all the fine details coming together in the end - whether for a loss or victory in battle.
Here, expect no intricacy or filling in of small details that foreshadow larger ones.
Iggulden propels the plodding storyline from one battle to another without anything else happening - for the entire book. We simply go from battle to battle to battle, repeat.
I don't care how many numerous battles Genghis fought and won, there has to be some background detail. There have to be characters that actually stand out and do something other than chop people's heads off.

No one was built up as a character, not even the title character of Khan. As I said, perhaps the author concentrated on characterization in the first book and I missed all that. But even if he did (which I doubt by his writing style), he should still be able to carry that into the second volume of his series. And he didn't.
If Genghis hadn't been identified by the title and the inside cover description as the main character, I would never have guessed. No one is central or important, and I couldn't care about any of the people in the story.

I kept thinking to myself as I read "Another battle? Again?! I can't wait for something different to happen."
Well, I was still thinking that very same thing until the end of the book. Finally on the last page I had to accept that that was all there was.