The Mongoliad: Book One
In an alternate 13th century, the Mongol Horde has advanced into Europe, and the great Khagan, the Khan of Khans, has challenged the West’s bravest knights to a series of gladiator-style competitions to determine the fate of Western civilization. But as the games commence, a small band of warrior monks sets out towards the East to accomplish the impossible: assassinate the Khagan himself and end the war. Led by Cnan, a bastard of war with divided allegiances, the troop presses deep into Mongol territory, fighting through sieges and skirmishes to get closer to their goal.
While this book has much authentic historical detail, it overreaches on its elaborate premise. A collaboration among seven different authors, the narrative is fragmented at times and stretched thin among too many characters. Fight scenes are superabundant, but the book hardly fulfills the back cover’s promise of narrating “the complex, bloody history of Western martial arts.” Worse, this volume makes no attempt to stand on its own, leaving every plot line dangling shamelessly in anticipation of the next title in this over-hyped “trilogy within a trilogy.” While The Mongoliad has a compelling concept and an engaging narrative, it slips up in many ways that may be forgivable to fantasy and sci-fi fans, but are less pardonable to aficionados of historical fiction. While I loved Stephenson’s historical Baroque Cycle, the depth of historical immersion I was hoping for never came through in this more disjointed work.