Literature / Conqueror
The Conqueror series
is a sequence of novels written by Conn Iggulden which tell the story of the Mongol Empire. They are:
- Wolf of the Plains (2007) (Published in America as Genghis: Birth of an Empire): Follows Temujin, son of Yesugei, as he is banished from his tribe and goes on to not only survive, but begin to unite all the people of Mongolia, becoming Genghis Khan.
- Lords of the Bow (2008): Having crushed the Tartars and united the Mongols into a single nation, Genghis Khan turns his attention to the tribes' traditional oppressors, the Xi Xia and Chin (Jin, aka Jurchen) empires in what is now northern China.
- Bones of the Hills (2008): Xi Xia and Chin are under Mongol domination, but Genghis Khan's ambassadors to Khwarezm are tortured and killed. The Mongols move against the Arabs in revenge, and their armies reach as far west as Russia.
- Empire of Silver (2011) (Published in America as Ogedai: Empire of Silver): Ogedai, Genghis' grandson, hasn't assumed the title of Great Khan even though his claim is the strongest; he also suffers from a weak heart and his brother, Chagatai, intends to wrestle the rulership from him. Tsubodai, Genghis' old friend and comrade, will also lead the Mongol armies ever further into the West, fighting the Russian Empire and the Templar Knights.
- Conqueror (2011): The last book in the series, it follows the reigns of Guyuk Khan, son of Ogedai Khan, and Mongke Khan, Guyuk's cousin, and the military deeds of Kublai, brother to Mongke Khan, against the Sung Empire (southern China, nowadays) as he is forced to change from a scholar to a warrior and leader of men.
Essentially the Mongolian equivalent to The Saxon Stories
by Bernard Cornwell
(one of the authors who have inspired Iggulden).
The series provides examples of:
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
- The dynamic between Temujin and Borte. They were childhood friends in Real Life.
- Genghis Khan's contentious relationship with Jochi. Though there was suspicion about his paternity in Real Life, he was definitely not a "Tartar bastard" as described in the series (Borte was abducted and raped by Mergids, NOT Tartars). By all accounts, Genghis treeted him as his first son, but there are signs of an estrangement in later years.
- Adapted Out: A glaring omission is Temujin's boyhood friend and blood brother turned chief rival, Jamukha. He had similar ambitions and thus had to be defeated before Temujin could assume the name Genghis Khan, meaning Oceanic or Universal Ruler. This is in spite of Iggulden basing the series on the historical chronicle The Secret History of the Mongols, which recounts their rivalry.
- Adaptation Name Change: Iggulden changed the name of Temujin's nemesis in the first book from Targutai to Eeluk. This is also a Genius Bonus since Eeluk is a variation from the Jurchen royal surname, Yelv (pronounced yeh-lyu).
- Asskicking Equals Authority: How Temujin becomes Genghis Khan.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Yesugei, Temujin, Eeluk, Jelaludin, Ala-u-din, etc. Anyone with an ounce of authority in this series is badassed. Aside from Inalchuk and Temuge.
- Ancestral Weapon: Temujin's wolf-head sword.
- Animal Motifs: The only thing that could possibly contend Conqueror in the sheer quantity of wolf-related metaphors is the Space Wolf omnibus. Iggulden's previous series about Julius Caesar also featured wolf motifs.
- The Alliance: What the Mongol nation starts off as.
- Bilingual Backfire
- Badass: Temujin, Yesugei, Arslan, Jelme... Pretty much everyone who isn't Temuge. But Temujin stands out, being able to beat the First Sword of Kaifeng in a fight in heavy armour he's unaccustomed to, throttle men easily, lift a man above his head and break his back over his knee, and able to fight one of his best soldiers to a stand still in old age.
- Badass Grandpa: Arslan. Temujin too in the later chapters of Bones of the Hills.
- Badass Army: The Mongol army under Temujin, the Jihadis under Jelaudin.
- Badass In Charge: Temujin, first of raiders in the North, then of the Wolves, then of Mongolia, and then of Chin, Koryo and Khwarezm.
- Four-Star Badass: Temujin, Tsubodai, Jochi, Jelaudin... the books are saturated with them.
- Barbarian Hero: Temujin.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Mongol tribes.
- Blood Knight: Temujin, it's easy to see why the Warhammer fandom thinks he worships Khorne.
We can live our lives at peace, so that our sons and grandsons ca live their lives at peace, but what is the point? If we all live to eighty in a green field without ever holding a bow or sword, we will have wasted the good years. You should know the truth of that. Will our grandsons thank us for a peaceful life? Only if they are too afraid to take up arms. I would not wish a quiet life on my enemies, Kachiun, never mind my own family. Even cities only prosper when there are rough men on the walls, ready to fight and die so that others may live. With us, we all fight, from the first yell to the last breath. It is the only way to take pride in who we are.
- Black Sheep: Temuge, the only member of Yesugei's family who isn't a badass.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Borte wets herself when she realizes the Tartars are going to rape her. Again.
- Cain and Abel: Temujin and Bekter, Jochi and Chagatai
- Chocolate Baby: Jochi, possibly.
- Cool Sword: Temujin's ancestral wolf's head sword.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Killing one's enemies and raping their women is intentionally portrayed as honourable and good.
- Downer Ending: In the perspective of the Mongols then Empire of Silver goes this way, Tolui gives his life at the advice of a Shaman to save Ogedai but he dies a few years later anyway, leaving behind a will to have Chagahai killed by a spy placed by him so he won't challenge his son Guyuk's claim to be Khan. Kachiun and Khasar both die quite unceremoniously and Temuge is executed for attempting to rain control of the Khan-less Karakorum from Sorhatani. And in the end Tsubodai is forced to abandon his conquest into Europe so he return to Karakorum in support of Guyuk and will never finish his march past Russia, except unbeknownst to him Chagahai is dead so there is no challenge to Guyuk's rule meaning he never had to leave.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Genghis and Hoelun hit the airag pretty hard after Temulun dies.
- False Retreat: One of the Mongols' favorite tactics.
- Final Battle
- Foreign Culture Fetish: Togrul really likes Chinese culture. Much to disapproval of Temujin when he meets him.
- First-Name Basis: Variant - By the second book, Hoelun is the only person willing to refer to Genghis Khan as Temujin
- Five-Man Band
- Genghis Gambit: Fitting, since the real Genghis Khan is the Trope Namer.
- Grim Up North: The Tartars seem to thrive in the frozen wastes of Siberia. The Mongols themselves to the Chin and Khwarezm. They constantly complain of the hot weather of these lands and how they prefer their own icy homeland, and how the winters there are little more than spring compared to what they go through. They're like the Vikings of the east.
- Grey and Grey Morality: In the first novel Temujin comes across as a straight up hero by the standards of his time, fighting to keep his family safe and evading the wrath of the traitorous and cruel Eeluk. However, he's also the brutal leader of savage northern raiders as he attacks the Tartars, killing their men and raping their women to get back at them for killing his father. In the later chapters of Wolves of the Plains, Temujin's sheer wrathful nature and ambition also begin to surface. By the time Bones of the Hills comes out, he basically goes to Khwarezm to avenge the torture and murder of his emissaries at the hands of Inalchuk, but he also makes it a point to wipe out his entire city and people to drive the point home that he's not to be fucked with, slaughtering millions (and thus, it's implied, indirectly causing the virulent plagues that sweep Khwarezm). Meanwhile, the Shah, while mostly a good man, becomes consumed with hatred by seeing what Genghis Khan does to his people and attempts to launch a lightning raid against the undefended Mongol women and children. The closest thing Bones of the Hills have to a good guy is Jelaudin, because he's basically fighting to free his country from Mongolian occupation and avenge their atrocities.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: The Tartars are responsible for a fair bit more of the crap in Temujin's early life than happened in reality. For example, they're written as the ones who raped Borte; in truth, that was done by the Mergid people.
- Munafiqeen: Inalchuck. By day he fasts in Ramazan, prays diligently, gives charity and reads the Holy Qur'an. By night, he drinks heavily, engages in deprave sex acts with his slave girls, and tortures Mongolian diplomats.
- Horse Archer: The Mongols. The Turks in Jelaudin's army are also this, and just as good. Given that Turks and Mongols are closely related and share a culture.
- Improvised Weapon: Temujin and Khasar kill men using armour scales.
- Loophole Abuse: Ogedai made a sacred oath to his wife that he would drink fewer cups of wine each day. He then ordered some enormous cups to be fired at the kiln.
- Mama Bear: Do not try to threaten Hoelun's children.
- Meaningful Funeral
- Meaningful Name: In reality, this is standard practise in Mongolia. The meanings of Temujin ('made of iron') and Genghis ('oceanic') have attention drawn to them.
- Subverted in Genghis. Many historians debate whether 'ocean' is what it really means, and some consider it to actually mean 'strength'.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Fleeing the Mongol hordes, the Cumans take shelter in Hungary, converting to Christianity in exchange for protection. As a price of protection, their fighting men, approximately 40,000 in number, were expected to help defend Hungary against the Mongols. Unfortunately, the Cumans were treated as second-class subjects, subjected to hate crimes (including murder) which went unpunished, which culminated in the murder of their leader, Köten. This led the Cumans to desert en masse right before a critical battle, costing Hungary any chance of victory. (In Real Life, things were not nearly so black and white: according to The Other Wiki, it was the Cumans who were given special treatment, permitted to rape and rob Hungarians with impunity. The resulting resentment on the part of the populace reached a boiling point when it was discovered that the invading Mongol hordes included Cumans (who had been forcibly conscripted by the Mongols). It was this that led to the rioting in which Köten was killed.)
- Nobody Poops: Averted.
- Parental Favoritism: Genghis Khan is unfortunately prone to this.
- Path of Inspiration: Shamanism as preached by Kokchu.
- Professional Killer: The Mongols go up against the historical Assassins.
- Rape as Drama: Borte is gang-raped by the Tartars.
- Rated M for Manly: It's a Conn Iggulden novel about Genghis Khan.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Everybody at Yinchuan fort.
- Rule of Drama: Tolui and Sorhatani's marriage. In the stories, it was practically a Shotgun Wedding, after fourteen-year-old Tolui got sixteen-year-old Sorhatani pregnant. In Real Life, however, it was an Arranged Marriage for political reasons, which took place when Tolui was only eleven.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Genghis and Tsubodai do this to the Old Man of the Mountains. After he accuses Genghis of being an idiotic destroyer who can accomplish nothing of his life. I guess forging an entire nation out of barbarian clans and giving it order and purpose doesn't count.
I needed to laugh. I needed to stride halls filled with dead whores and have an assassin tell me I've made nothing in my life.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Iggulden notes that "Genghis Khan" is more properly rendered as "Chinggis Haan", but he felt the former spelling is just too iconic to discard.
- The Strategist: Tsubodai
- Take a Third Option: Can't break through the Great Wall of China? Unwilling to retreat? Send men over the even higher mountains.
- Tearjerker: Jochi's fate.
- Warrior Monk: Yao Shu. Jelaudin to much greater (and more badass extent) when he goes to Afghanistan.
- Worthy Opponent: Jelaudin, who understands Mongol tactics and is able to effectively counter them.