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The Mongoliad: Book One by Neal Stephenson

The Mongoliad: Book One (2012)

by Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear (Author), Greg Bear (Author), Jospeh Brassey (Author), E. D. deBirmingham (Author)3 more, Mike Grell (Illustrator), Cooper Moo (Author), Mark Teppo (Author)

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("The tiger would pity the fawn, the wolf would weep over its lamb before the Mongol would cringe at the corpse of a child."
- from "The Mongoliad"

"Mongoliad" is a lot of bluster but little substance. An alternate historical fiction of the middle ages during the reign of Ogedai Khan - Genghis' youngest son - the story follows several indistinct characters and loosely differentiated plot lines across a devastated European landscape. The Mongols are raping and pillaging while Ogedai struggles with alcoholism fueled by the stress of his job (granted, he's ruling an ever-expanding empire with a myriad of borders to defend, Christians to overwhelm, and family members looking to overthrow his rule).

The specific story follows a band of crusaders known as the "Shield Brethren" whose goals ultimately focus on the heart of the Mongol empire itself. The band breaks into two, which creates dual focus for the plot, while a third lens is aimed at two lesser players in Ogedai's court at Karakoram. I won't bother to detail the plots because they're not even interesting enough to remember, let alone take the energy to recount.

The book is enjoyable enough while reading. The plot moves at a solid pace and the plethora of authors know how to spin a good yarn. But overall, the book just falls flat. The characters are bland and mostly superficial. The motivations that drive the plot are thin, and the action between the handful of battles is one-dimensional. Because "Book One" has literally no conclusions, I'm mildly motivated to pick up "Book Two", but I have no driving need to find out how things continue, let alone wrap up.

Buy this for an airplane ride, or sleepy days at the beach. Prepare to be underwhelmed. ( )
  JGolomb | Mar 20, 2014 |
Yea, so this was awful. I loved Stephenson's The Diamond Age, I loved Snow Crash. But along with Anathem this makes two, one star books in a row so I'm not sure I'm going back.

It's pretty rare for me not to finish books (like maybe 10 in my life). It's even more rare for me not to finish something when it's on audio (like maybe 2 in my life). This was boring. By the time I got to disc 9 of 11 I realized this was just the intro to something REALLY long (and by default REALLY boring). I didn't care about any of he characters. It was just soooooo dry. Also too many characters going on. I guess that's where the long part comes in. All of these characters were going to take time to get their stuff done.

Unless you love long, dry, epics I would suggest avoiding this. If you haven't read Diamond Age or Snow Crash please do so immediately. Then you can give Mr. Stephenson some love, because I think I'm all out. ( )
1 vote ragwaine | Oct 5, 2013 |
At the start I was eagerly reading this because the premise of the story was a selling point. But halfway through I just lost interest in the characters and by the end of the story the storyline was boring. ( )
  capiam1234 | Aug 14, 2013 |
At the start I was eagerly reading this because the premise of the story was a selling point. But halfway through I just lost interest in the characters and by the end of the story the storyline was boring. ( )
  smcamp1234 | Aug 14, 2013 |
I would have enjoyed this book much more if I had not come to it expecting a Neal Stephenson book. It has none of Stephenson's gonzo over-the-top-ness, nor his didacticism; none of his manic rambles, twenty-page asides, or enormous math-based research dumps. It has precious little of his trademark humor and gleeful geekery. In fact, the only real Stephenson trademark in evidence here is an abundance of hypercompetent badasses doing their thing - here it's alchemists and swordfighters rather than hackers or codebreakers, but it's very much the same feel.

However, those complaints aside, this was still a fun story, full of action, and I'll probably read the next book in the series. ( )
  benjamin.duffy | Jul 28, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bear, ErikAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bear, GregAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Brassey, JospehAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
deBirmingham, E. D.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Grell, MikeIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Moo, CooperAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Teppo, MarkAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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They put swords in our hands and taught us how to use them.
To Michael "Tinker" Pearce, Angus Trim & Guy Windsor
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Cnan halted just outside the clearing surrounding the stone monastery and dropped to a crouch.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A note on this edition: The Mongoliad began as a social media experiment, combining serial story-telling with a unique level of interaction between authors and audience during the creative process. Since its original iteration, The Mongoliad has been restructured, edited, and rewritten under the supervision of its authors to create a more cohesive reading experience and will be published as a trilogy of novels. This edition is the definitive edition and is the authors' preferred text.

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.
[retrieved 9/22/2012 from Amazon.com]
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In 1241, warriors try to stop the Mongols from invading Europe; in the nineteenth century, a group of martial artists provide a language expert with lost manuscripts to translate that chronicle their ancestors' thirteenth century battles.

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