Thursday, August 11, 2011

Staff Picks - Historical Fiction by Conn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden is an award winning British writer of historical fiction. He is best known for two series: Emperor and Conquerors. The Emperor series focuses on the life and times of Julius Ceasar, while the Conquerors series delves into the biography of Genghis Khan and his kin.

NoveList describes Iggulden's story lines as being action packed, the tone as atmospheric and violent and the writing style as gritty and descriptive. I think that these appeal terms sum up the reading experience rather succinctly. Another descriptor that comes to my mind is cinematic - I felt as if the scenes were being screened in my head!

The four book Emperor series started with The Gates of Rome, which begins with Ceasar's boyhood and his development into a politician. The Gods of War is the fourth entry (and there are now rumours of a fifth?).

"If you liked Gladiator you'll love Emperor" - Sunday Times

"Stunning. It begins with hints of a mystery and continues as a galvanizing historical thriller. Words like “brilliant”, “sumptuous” and “enchanting” jostle to be used but scarcely convey the way Iggulden brings the tale to life, or the compelling depictions of battle, treachery and everyday detail in a precarious world vividly re-created … exhilarating" - Los Angeles Times

"Brilliantly interweaving history and adventure, Conn Iggulden conjures a stunning array of contrasts-from the bloody stench of a battlefield to the opulence of the greatest city in history, from the tenderness of a lover to the treachery of an assassin. Superbly rendered, grippingly told, Emperor, The Gates of Rome is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction." - back cover

The Conqueror series is also four novels deep. The first book is Wolf of the Plains (note: the US title is Genghis: birth of an empire) which as expected, begins with the childhood of Temujin. Due to political competition among the Wolf clan, his father is assassinated and young Temujin is banished from the tribe and left to starve to death. Thus begins his epic journey into becoming Genghis Khan, the most powerful and feared man in the world. Book four, The Empire of Silver was just released last year and kind of starts the story anew, with the death of Genghis and the selection of his successor.

"Just as he did for Julius Caesar, Iggulden plants his subject firmly into historical context, fictionalizing the early years of Temujin, the son of a khan brutally murdered by invading Tartars. When his family is betrayed by a rival and abandoned by their clan, young Temujin vows revenge and dreams of the day he will become the conqueror rather than the conquered.

Surviving the harsh reality of the Asian steppes, his adolescence is informed by a sense of mission that grows more urgent with each passing year. As a young man, he begins to develop skills as both a fierce warrior and a diplomat, reuniting Mongol tribes and factions into a formidable army. This authentically detailed historical drama sets the stage for the next installment" - Booklist

btw, Conn Iggulden is also the author of the Dangerous Books for Boys series

1 comment:

  1. I love Iggulden's historical work.

    Steve Vernon
    (Sinking Deeper)