[BOOKS IN BRIEF]Genghis revisitedIf you are familiar with the Emperor book series, which relates Julius Caesar’s rise to power, you will know all too well the style of its author Conn Iggulden: battle scenes that transport the reader into ancient times and political intrigue that defined the era.
“Genghis: Birth of an Empire” is another attempt by Iggulden to fictionalize a historical character, only this time he’s chosen a warrior widely regarded as a barbarian, quite a contrast to the more urbane Julius Caesar.
Genghis is usually depicted as a mass killer, slaughtering his enemies without mercy and wreaking havoc on the Western world, which he almost brought to its knees. But Iggulden adopts a different position. His Genghis is not a villain. Granted it’s fictional history, but the Genghis we get here comes nothing short of a young man who faced obstacles and tragedy and triumphed in the end. Surely, he is not that much different from the more celebrated Napoleon or Alexander the Great.
Iggulden is writing within a revisionist trend that casts Genghis in a more sympathetic light. His news series reminds me of the non-fiction “Genghis Khan and the Making of the New World” (2005) by the historian Jack Weatherford, in which the author focuses on Genghis’ achievements rather than the usual bloody portrayal.
The fact that Iggulden lived among Mongolians to write this book lends authenticity. Perhaps the most intriguing part is when Genghis recognizes that the Chin dynasty is dividing the tribes in Mongolia, which inspires him to create one nation and unify the tribes into a single fighting force.
The second in the series just came out: “Genghis: Lord of the Bow.” If you read the first one, you’ll find yourself looking for the follow-up pretty soon.
By Brian Lee