Bones of the Hills is the third book in Iggulden’s sweeping epic of the rise of Genghis and the Mongols. In Birth of an Empire, Iggulden traces Genghis’ rise from an outlawed boy to the uniting of the Mongol tribes. It was a great book and a promising start to what should have been an excellent trilogy.
In the second book, Lords of the Bow, the story started to unravel for me. I read the book on the heels of finishing Birth of an Empire. Looking back, perhaps I wasn’t prepared for the change in tone from following Genghis very intimately, to viewing the entire Mongol nation from a distance. The scope of the story changed, and I wasn’t that impressed. In it, the Mongols invade China and destroy hundreds of cities.
I took my time getting to the third book. I wanted to finish the series, but I was concerned that it was going to be more like the second book than it was like the first. In that, I was correct. It didn’t follow just Genghis like it did in the first. It did follow his sons, brothers, and top generals, though. Perhaps it was the time away from the first book in the series that made it more enjoyable in the third than in the first. Or perhaps it was the invigorating battle scenes and intricate discussions of Mongol tactics and their ability to change the rules of war when presented with challenges.
Whatever it was, it worked. I was captivated by this book from the first page and had trouble setting it down at night. A few scenes stand out as memorable: A cavalry chase across hundreds of miles in the dead of night, a mano y tiger fight to the death, and a scene of loyalty and sadness involving a wayward son of Genghis that was surprising, merciless and heartbreaking all at the same time. This book truly showed why Genghis was feared throughout the world. His army was mobile, fast, and devoid of mercy.
If you like historical fiction, you will be a fan of the Genghis series that Iggulden has crafted. The first and third books are truly memorable. I wasn’t a big fan of the middle book, but I may have to go back and revisit it. Maybe I missed something.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (What’s This?)