Michelle’s Review: The Mongoliad, Book Two by Neal Stephenson and Others


mongoliad2The Mongoliad, Book Two by Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Greg Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, Cooper Moo, Mark Teppo, & Mike Grell

Published: September 25th 2012 by 47North
Format/Source: Purchased Kindle ebook
Series: Foreworld (#2)
Genre: Historical Fiction, paranormal

Synopsis:

This Kindle edition features extra content only found in the Collector’s Edition of The Mongoliad: Book Two, including an illustrated character glossary, a Foreworld map, and Dreamer, a prequel to the Mongoliad series.

This riveting second installment in Stephenson and company’s epic tale focuses on the aftermath of the world-shattering Mongolian invasion of 1241 and the difficult paths undertaken by its most resilient survivors.

The Shield Brethren, an order of warrior monks, search for a way to overthrow the horde, even as the invaders take its members hostage. Forced to fight in the Mongols’ Circus of Swords, Haakon must prove his mettle or lose his life in the ring. His bravery may impress the enemy, but freedom remains a distant dream.

Father Rodrigo receives a prophecy from God and believes it’s his mission to deliver the message to Rome. Though a peaceful man, he resigns himself to take up arms in the name of his Lord. Joining his fight to save Christendom are the hunter Ferenc, orphan Ocyrhoe, healer Raphael, and alchemist Yasper, each searching for his place in history.

Deftly blending fact and fantasy, The Mongoliad: Book Two captures the indomitable will to survive against immense odds.

Review:

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Why I picked it up: I became aware of the Mongoliad through the Sword and Laser YouTube show two years ago. I usually love historical fiction and this was dealing with an area of history that intrigues me as well as with aspects that I haven’t explored before (particularly anything to do with the Mongols). The same Amazon Kindle Daily Deal that allowed me to pick up Book One for cheaper, I also bought Book Two and Book Three at the same time. But I chose to read Book Two right after finishing Book One because the ending of Book One was so abrupt. I had a feeling that if I didn’t immediately begin reading Book Two, I would have forgotten characters and where the last book left off. I was extremely accurate.

What’s it about, very quickly? Book Two picks up directly where Book One left off. It adds a new thread or storyline, this one about the choosing of a new Pope and the first ‘conclave’ of cardinals. The Shield Brethren are still on their mission to the East, while the rest of their number try to navigate the gladiatorial battles of the Mongol circus, and a Mongol warrior learns more diplomacy. Basically, a lot of detailed storylines going on simultaneously.

My initial thoughts: Oh my gosh, so many characters! I was pretty confident after Book One that I had a firm grasp of the storylines and the characters in them, but with the addition of a new thread with a bunch of new characters, it became difficult to follow at points. And I cannot express enough how grateful I am that I was able to immediately read Book Two after finishing Book One. There was no recap of what had happened previously.

My conclusion: I think this book suffered a little by adding another thread of the Rome politics. With all the subplots going on in that single thread, it almost overshadowed the rest of the threads. And while those parts were definitely interesting, it made too great a gap between each thread’s chapters. Unless I had enough time to read big chunks at a single time, it was difficult to remember where a certain group of characters were and what they were doing by the time I got to their chapter. I did really appreciate how the book showed all the different things that happen simultaneously in history, despite some liberties taken with that history. I will be moving on Book Three as soon as I can to finish this odyssey.

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