Thursday, February 23, 2012

KHAN: EMPIRE OF SILVER by Conn Iggulden ✰✰✰✰

Khan: Empire of Silver is book four of Conn Iggulden’s outstanding series about the founder of the Mongul Empire, Genghis Khan, and his sons and grandsons.  While it is not absolutely necessary to read the other books in order to read this one, I would highly recommend it, and if you would like to read the others you really do want to read them in order.
Similar to the previous novel, this one travels to the far reaches of the empire, from China to Hungary to Afghanistan, which adds a good deal of cultural interest as you begin to see some of the Mongul culture of the steppes fade and the learning and refinement of the vanquished peoples sink into the conquering warriors.  In the course of this novel the last of Genghis’ brothers and sons die and the khanate passes into the hands of his grandson, with the continued guidance of Genghis’ venerable general Tsubodai.  
As usual for all these novels, women’s roles are significant-an element of the book supported as factual by the extensive author’s note-making what might be a rather testosterone laden read very engaging for the ladies as well.  It is often difficult to find historical fiction written in a way that appeals to both men and women.  With his combination of Mongul warriors and strong female characters it struck me that this would be the perfect audio for a couple on a road trip together (although I can not speak for the audio, as I have read all four in print).
The only element that kept this from being a five star read for me was that there was not a lot of suspense to it.  There were a couple of events towards the end that were unexpected (one, I will admit, was exceedingly so!), but overall, things flowed along a predictable course.  Exciting and fast paced, but predictable.
This is a fantastic series about a seldom touched topic, and I highly recommend it for all readers, both male and female, who want to expand their knowledge of the Middle Ages beyond the borders of Europe (this novel takes place in the early thirteenth century).  The clash of the well-known battle tactics of Knights Templar against those of the Golden Horde makes for some pretty exciting reading.  The fifth and final novel in the series, Conqueror, was released in the United States in December of 2011.  It focuses primarily on Kublai Khan and the eastern half of the Mongul Empire, but also wraps up the story of his cousins and the western half, or Golden Horde.  Stay tuned, as I will certainly be reviewing that one in the near future.

26 February: As an update, I was at the library with my kids the other day and was able to pick up the audio version of Conqueror!  I was very excited for two reasons-first, to finish up this excellent series, and second, to be able to finally experience one of these books on audio.  Most likely, I will begin listening to it today and should finish it sometime in the next week or so, after which I look forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you.


  1. Great review, Care! Sounds like an interesting read.

  2. Thanks, Becky! I just love these books and can not recommend them highly enough!