Monday, January 04, 2016

Review: The Mongoliad: Book One

The Mongoliad: Book One The Mongoliad: Book One by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Things I liked:

* Historical basis in the Mongolian invasions of 1241.
* A realistic feel to the descriptions of swordplay, _without_ it reading like an obsessive blow-by-blow written by experts whose descriptions I could barely follow. In short; good detail, but not too much of it.
* A couple of the characters (C'nan, Gansukh, the Flower Knight).

Things that didn't really work for me:

* Way too many characters to keep track of, many of whom didn't seem terribly important to the narrative.
* Some of those characters are also not terribly-well depicted. Two-line stereotype characters with a name, a nationality, and a favorite weapon, who might otherwise just be "Stormtrooper #19". This is probably a necessary consequence of there being so many of them, but...
* While I eventually got it sorted out, the background information didn't make it terribly clear which khan was who and what they were doing. At one point it seemed like half of our characters were setting off on an enormous journey to find... the same guy that one of them just popped over to see straight away? This wasn't true, and as I say I worked it out eventually, but it came down to the fact that there were too many indistinct characters... I appreciate the desire to avoid a history lecture and get on with this story, but I needed a bit more of the background to start with.

All in all it was a good book, and I'm already reading the second. But not a _great_ book.

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