In 1229, Genghis Khan is dead, and his son Ogedai has been named his successor as the Great Khan. Ogedai is Genghis's third son. The night before Ogedai is due to be confirmed as Genghis's successor, troops loyal to his elder brother Chagatai storm Ogedai's palace at Karakorum and attempt to murder him. This attempt fails and once Ogedai is confirmed, he sends his brother to conquer the south. Tsubodai, Genghis Khan's great general, is sent west: through Russia and into Europe. Ogedai himself moves east for further conquest in China.
The continued expansion of the empire founded by Genghis results in some epic battle scenes, which Mr Iggulden brings to life, as well as some fascinating description of strategy. If the Mongol armies had not been withdrawn from Europe after Ogedai's death, no army in Europe would have been able to stop them. In the context of the story (and of the history), the decision to withdraw makes perfect sense - but it didn't stop me wondering about the consequences.
The history is fascinating, and Mr Iggulden uses it as the basis for a terrific novel. Genghis's brothers Khasar and Kachiun still have a role, but they are aging. A new generation - of Genghis's grandchildren - is making a mark. Batu, Baidur and Mongke seem the most promising.
Mr Iggulden's historical note at the end of the novel is helpful, and reminded me of how much story there is still left to tell. Initially, it took me longer to become engrossed in this novel: none of the characters had the same appeal for me as Genghis. But I soon became swept up in the events, and found myself wanting to know more about the Mongol exploits in Europe. And the descriptions of battlefields and strategy had me completely engrossed.
This is the fourth novel in the Conqueror series, continuing the saga of the Khan dynasty. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.
`A wolf cannot have more than one head, general, or it tears itself apart.'