Epic sweep with lots of sword-fights, what’s not to like?
Publisher’s blurb: “The first novel to be released in The Foreworld Saga, The Mongoliad: Book One, is an epic-within-an-epic, taking place in 13th century. In it, a small band of warriors and mystics raise their swords to save Europe from a bloodthirsty Mongol invasion. Inspired by their leader (an elder of an order of warrior monks), they embark on a perilous journey and uncover the history of hidden knowledge and conflict among powerful secret societies that had been shaping world events for millennia.
“But the saga reaches the modern world via a circuitous route. In the late 19th century, Sir Richard F. Burton, an expert on exotic languages and historical swordsmanship, is approached by a mysterious group of English martial arts aficionados about translating a collection of long-lost manuscripts. Burton dies before his work is finished, and his efforts were thought lost until recently rediscovered by a team of amateur archaeologists in the ruins of a mansion in Trieste, Italy. From this collection of arcana, the incredible tale of The Mongoliad was recreated.
“Full of high adventure, unforgettable characters, and unflinching battle scenes, The Mongoliad ignites a dangerous quest where willpower and blades are tested and the scope of world-building is redefined.”
Simply put, this is an epic sweep of a novel, weaving multiple stories of ordinary people swept up in a Mongol invasion of somewhere almost, but not quite, Europe of the 13th century. Warrior monks, destitute survivors scrabbling amidst the ruins, one Mongol leader in a palace seeming to live for his own pleasure (and almost permanently drunk), another hosting ‘gladatorial’ combats, a simple Mongol who comes from the open steppes and is struggling to cope with court life… all these and more spring to life between these pages.
There is intrigue and adventure aplenty, and few people are all that they seem. One motley group of heroes, deciding that military might will not see the Mongols off, embark on a seemingly hopeless quest, travelling the length of the known world…
The descriptions are evocative, the combats are exciting (and give ideas both for tactics and for ways in which to describe action for any role-player who wants to make combat narrative as well as a feast of die-rolls), and the whole ends up leaving one feeling that this just might have been.
It’s a good read, but feels unfinished, very much a ‘Volume 1′ that is crying out for a sequel… as by the end you do want to know what happens to the characters you have befriended as you read.
For the role-player: Epic quests can make good adventures, but even if you do not wish wholesale inspiration, there are many snippets to weave into adventures of your own making. Perhaps the Mongol palace or the combat arena, or the shattered monastery which is still home to some warrior monks and others who have gravitated towards them.
Authors: Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Greg Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland (writing as E.D. DeBirmingham), Mark Teppo, and Cooper Moo
Publishers’ Reference: Unknown
Paperback, 442 pages
Date: April 2012
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So what do you think?