Con Iggulden’s web site summarises the book as follows:
Genghis Khan is dead, but his legend and his legacy live on. His son Ogedai has built a white city on a great plain and made a capital for the new nation. Now the armies have gathered to see which of Genghis’ sons has the strength to be khan. The Mongol empire has been at peace for two years, but whoever survives will face the formidable might of their great enemy, China’s Song dynasty.
The great leader Tsubodai sweeps into the west: through Russia, over the Carpathian mountains and into Hungary. The Templar knights have been broken and there is no king or army to stop him reaching France. But at the moment of Tsubodai’s greatest triumph, as his furthest scouts reach the northern mountains of Italy, Tsubodai must make a decision that will change the course of history forever.Iggulden’s evocation of the Golden Horde’s march into the west is excellent and the battle scenes with the Russians and Hungarians really gave me a feel for the fear created by the Mongol tactics. The sections dealing with the Sung seem to me to be setting up the next volume in the series. They are mainly about how the Chin refugee’s and their Emperor sort sanctuary in Sung territory and the political machinations that followed.
All in all a real page turner but I found that as the Empire fragmented so the number of characters multiplied. As a result the first section of the book confused me for a while: a bit like returning to a soap opera after a few months when you can’t quite remember the family relationships and who did what to whom in the previous episodes. Thankfully the important threads soon emerge and the book rattles along. Recommended.
I checked Conn Iggulden’s web site to see if there was anything about future volumes in this series but drew a blank. I did find a recent interview in the Independent which mentions that there are two more volumes planned for the series. As Iggulden is producing a book a year this bodes well for autumn 2011 and 2012.
Updated: Sun, 28 Feb 2016 – current cover gallery