The fascinating life story of the legendary Kublai Khan

2012-02-15 00:00

HAVING read Conn Iggulden’s thrilling Emperor series, I was very eager to sink my teeth into the final book of his latest series, Conqueror, which follows the story of ­legendary Mongol warrior Kublai Khan.

As one of Genghis Khan’s grandsons, Kublai was destined to play an important role in the expansion of the Mongol empire. When his older brother, Mongke, gains the throne, Kublai — an intelligent, knowledge-seeking scholar — is forced to leave his beloved books behind and lead an army into the heart of China. In his quest to conquer Sung lands, Kublai proves to be a skilful military leader, and gains great respect from his Mongol army.

In 1259, while on a quest into western China, Mongke is killed. This has huge implications for Kublai. With support from his many followers, his is elected as his brother’s successor. However, unbeknown to him, his younger brother, Arik Boke, also declares himself as khan. When Kublai hears of this, he is furious and wages war against his brother to gain the throne and claim what is rightfully his.

Fuelled by anger and with his vast military experience, Kublai wins the war and becomes leader of the Mongol empire. He went on to found the Yuan Dynasty and achieved extraordinary triumphs in his lifetime.

Iggulden’s portrayal of one of history’s most revered leaders adeptly captures both the brutality and humanity of the great khan; a man who, in the face of great adversity, managed to gain power over a fifth of the world’s population at the time — an immense feat.

Conqueror brings to life the fascinating, action-packed world of Mongol warfare and is a definite must-read for anyone interested in the art of war and Mongolia’s epic conquest over China.

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