Sea of grass
As mentioned in my previous post, I recently saw a fantastic documentary about Genghis Khan filmed wholly in Mongolia (what a beautiful country). In the countries invaded by Khan's hordes, he's seen as the devil incarnate; but to the Mongolians he's a bit of a hero turning their country from a land of warring tribes to one proudly united. At its peak the Mongolian Empire was twice as big as the Roman Empire stretching from Hungary to Beijing, four times the size of the empire of Alexander the Great. And all under the organisation of a man born in a yurt, the second son of a minor tribal leader.
Love him or hate him, there's no denying that Genghis Khan was quite a man. And this is very clear in Wolf of the Plains, the first volume in Conn Iggulden's Conqueror series, the story of Genghis Khan. Iggulden has really done his research, and blends fact and fiction seamlessly. And what a story it is.
The child who would become the Khan of the people of the Sea of grass (the Mongolian steppes), was born Temujin. His future was not entirely assured as he was the second son, but everything changed when his father was killed by the Tartars, and for an unknown reason the family were abandoned by the tribe, and left to face the bleak Mongolian winter with no implements to assist survival. Quite how their mother, who sounds like a quite incredible woman, managed to keep her children alive through that winter is not known. But it was an amazing achievement.
Tribeless, it became increasingly important to Temujin to form a new united grouping. A group that would transcend tribal boundaries, and that would unite the people of Mongolia. He was an astonishing man - he could be cruel, although not unduly so by the standards of the time, but he was extremely astute politically, incredibly tough, able to appreciate talents in others - both physical and intellectual - and use them to his advantage. What a story, and beautifully told by Iggulden, who lets the narrative flow along. Fantastic tale, highly recommended.