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Intrigue and treachery roil the vast Mongol nation as the heirs of Genghis Khan fight for control of his unprecedented empire—and of his mighty armies. History will turn on the outcome of their struggle. But only one man, dismissed by all the others, will boldly rise to the challenge with the courage and vision to forge the future, and with the strength to be called . . .
The novels of Conn Iggulden bring the past to thrilling life, from ancient Rome to thirteenth-century Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Now he delivers the spectacular story of the rise of Genghis Khan’s grandson, a man destined to become one of the most remarkable rulers who ever lived—the legendary Kublai Khan.
A succession of ruthless leaders has seized power in the wake of the great Khan’s death—all descendants of Genghis, but none with the indomitable character that led a people to triumph. One grandson, Guyuk, decadent and vicious, seeks to consolidate his position through bribery and murder, pitting powerful factions against one another and straining the loyalties of the tribes to the breaking point.
Next comes his cousin, Mongke, who eliminates all possible opposition with breathtaking brutality and dispatches his younger brothers Kublai and Hulegu to far-flung territories, to test their mettle and their allegiance.
Hulegu displays his barbarity with the savage destruction of Baghdad and his clash with the Khan’s age-old enemies, the cult of assassins, who will strike deep into the heart of the nation. But it is Kublai—refined and scholarly, always considered too thoughtful to take power—who will devise new ways of warfare and conquest as he builds the dream city of Xanadu and pursues the ultimate prize: the ancient empire of Sung China. His gifts will serve him well when an epic civil war breaks out among brothers, the outcome of which will literally change the world.
Brilliantly researched and imagined, unforgettably told, Conqueror is a magnificent achievement from an enthralling writer at the peak of his powers, a must read for all lovers of history and storytelling on the grand scale.
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Featured Essay by Conn Iggulden
Kublai Borjigin was a grandson of Genghis Khan, but never expected to inherit the Mongol empire. He spent his formative years as a scholar in the city of Karakorum, learning languages and philosophies rather than the tactics of war.
When the other lines of succession failed, Kublai's older brother Mongke rose to lead the empire, a man who aimed to be another Genghis--traditional and utterly ruthless. Mongke began his reign with a great slaughter and put his followers and family in positions of power. Yet what was Mongke to do with his brother Kublai, the ink-stained scholar who had never left the city? Kublai dressed like a noble and had no experience of large-scale assaults. Astonishingly, Mongke sent his academic brother to conquer the hardest military target of the era--China. He gave Kublai an army of a hundred thousand, but at that time, a single Chinese city contained more people than the entire Mongol nation. The Emperor of China was capable of putting two million trained soldiers in the field. It was an impossible task, a perfect example of "asymmetric warfare," where a much smaller side is forced to innovate to survive.
Given an impossible task, what happened was an extraordinary leap of imagination for a man of the thirteenth century. Kublai learned the tactics of cavalry archers. He learned how to use cannons and what a burden they would prove to a fast cavalry force. He had good generals and his men were the elite horsemen of the Great Khan, but that would not have been enough on its own. What Kublai discovered was the exact opposite of Genghis's chief tactic. Genghis had destroyed cities as an example, so that the next ones would surrender without a fight. Kublai spared cities, allowing them to remain untouched as his army swept by. Once his mercy was a proven fact, they surrendered by the dozen. Armies sent against him knew they could lay down weapons and live.
By the time Mongke rode out with a huge army to "save" his brother, Kublai was in strike range of the enemy capital. Perhaps Mongke would have taken the glory, but he died on the trip south and Kublai was left in sole command. He wanted to go on, but news came that his youngest brother had declared himself Khan at home. Furious, Kublai broke off his campaign and returned to fight a civil war.His life is the story of a scholar who was forced to lead first armies and then an empire. He turned out to be better at it than his brothers or Genghis. There were tragedies and glories still to come--the death of his wife and son, the failures against Japan and the splendid court described by Marco Polo. Kublai would lose more than he gained as the Great Khan of the empire, but he founded a Chinese dynasty and is remembered there with respect and honor. About the Author:
Conn Iggulden is the author of four novels in the saga of the Khan Dynasty—Genghis: Birth of an Empire; Genghis: Lords of the Bow; Genghis: Bones of the Hills; and Khan: Empire of Silver—as well as the Emperor novels, which chronicle the life of Julius Caesar. He is also the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Dangerous Book of Heroes. He lives with his wife and children in Hertfordshire, England, where he is working on his next Emperor book.
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