Conn Iggulden continues the epic life story of Temugen, now known by the name of Genghis Khan, in this second book in the Conqueror series. The legend of Genghis continues at a pace not as relentless as in the first book Wolf of the Plains, but not quite sedate either.
Genghis having united the warring Mongolian tribes into one nation under his supreme leadership, realises that the mammoth task requires him to cement his authority by means that would necessitate being both ruthless and fearless.
To this end Genghis decides to penetrate the land of the Xi Xia, Jin and Chin [China], take on this long-time enemy in their own terrain and bring them into submission. The journey South across a harsh Gobi desert, into Chin lands right up to the walls of the fortress-like cities had never been attempted before by any of the Mongolian tribes, in such vast numbers. Having had initial success crossing through the Great Wall into Chinese lands and securing his first great win in battle against the Xi Xia, Genghis realises that attacking the walled cities would require a little more thought and help from the inside.
He dispatches two of his brothers to infiltrate a walled city to learn the secrets of how they were built and how to destroy them. Having gained this knowledge, Genghis returns to sack and destroy the Chin cities one by one. In his quest to dominate the Chinese empire, he takes on the mighty Imperial army and wins a colossal battle at a mountain pass leading to the great walled city of Yenking [later Peking, now Beijing].
The vanquished Chinese general flees the scene o battle and returns to the city where he murders the young Chinese Emperor and assumes power by appointing himself Regent to the official heir to the throne who was a very young boy at this time.
Genghis Khan sets up camp with his victorious army outside the walled city of Yenking, and makes a few failed attempts to attack the city with trebuchets and other weapons. He decides to wait and let the city starve for many years before the General finally decides to surrender, first making a crafty deal using the services of the Mongolian Shaman Kokchu, to prevent the city from being burned to the ground.
In this second book, we get only brief glimpses of Genghis’ relationship with his growing sons. Of interest is his estranged relationship with his eldest son Jochi, who he suspects of being a bastard son by his first wife Borte who was raped in the first book by a Tartar warrior.
I’m sure there’s more about his developing relationship with his sons in the next book, Bones of the Hills, but I’ve only just started that one…