Review: The Mongoliad: Book One

Review: The Mongoliad: Book One

The Mongoliad: Book One (The Foreworld Saga)
by Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Mark Teppo, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo, E.D. deBirmingham
published by 47North (an imprint of Amazon)
original publication: 2012
size: 675KB (444 pages)
categories: fiction; fantasy; epic
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
text-to-speech: yes

“Warriors fight, Gansukh; that is their purpose in life. But eventually, there is no one left to fight, and they must learn how to think.”
–Chucai
The Mongoliad: Book One
written by (see above)  ;)

This is an interesting novel, made more so by its pedigree.

It’s not just the variety of authors, including Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon) and Greg Bear (The Forge of God).

It’s also because the book is actually published by Amazon. Not through its KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program, but selected by Amazon through its traditional publishing arm.

So, before I talk about the book itself, let me just evaluate how Amazon did.

Big plus: the book has all the special features that are part of the Kindle store. It has text-to-speech available, it’s friend-to-friend enabled, Real Page Numbers, and it’s part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The last one is how I got it…so it didn’t cost me  anything over our Prime membership.

Second plus: it’s well proof-read. I found two minor errors, and that’s very good indeed.

Yes, it has an active table of contents.

The price? $4.99.

In other words, Amazon did just fine. :)

Now, what about the story?

Perhaps I should say, “stories”.

While they are connected, we really follow different sets of characters. That suits my style of reading: I’m often jumping between several books at the same time. The fact that we’d move from one group and story line to another and then back again kept my interest. I suspect some people might find it distracting, though.

One thing that wouldn’t have happened with a single author, I think, is that the two strong female characters have somewhat similar names…four letters with two in common (and in the same place).

However, it was nice to have two strong female characters. This is a book that thrives on combat…lots of different kinds of combat. Although the book is categorized as a fantasy, there really isn’t much in it that pushes it there. If you don’t like dragons and elves, not to worry…nary an orc in sight. :) On the other hand, if you’ve ever been to an SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) event and watched armored warriors go at it, you’ll appreciate the detail. It would have been easy for the female characters to be marginalized or stereotyped, and that’s not the case.

It’s not all fighting. One of the threads has a warrior needing to learn how to succeed in court. I appreciated that neither way of life is shown as the default better one…both courtly social interactions and battlefield tactics are given their due.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the basic set up is interesting. It has to do with European knights interacting with Mongols…which is historically accurate. I do have to say that the balance I’ve mentioned above is not evident in the way the two sides are portrayed. That’s not to say that might not be accurate, but it might have been more intriguing if the good guys/bad guys dynamic wasn’t so one-sided (not that the “good guys” don’t have some bad actors).

I could have more whole-heartedly recommended it if it had been a whole. Instead, it ends very abruptly: like you were watching a movie on TV and the power went out abruptly. ;)

As one of my parents would say, that quite “brupted” me. If I was giving it a letter grade like in school, that by itself would drop it a full grade. I think it may bother you less, since I’ve warned you about it.

Overall, I’d say it’s a worthwhile read, and is “borrow worthy”. :)

If you’ve read the book, feel free to comment on this post (no spoilers, please) and let me know what you think.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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7 Responses to “Review: The Mongoliad: Book One”

  1. Blondyna Says:

    hmm, interesting. Thanks for review… I never buy this book before read your article… I think you are creating good advertising for it :-)) Thanks again!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Blondyna!

      Well, what I try to do in a review is give people an idea of whether or not they will like the book. What I like isn’t necessarily what someone else will like, and I know that. However, I also know that people care about how I felt about a book…so I give that, too. :)

  2. Kutya Run the World Says:

    Hi Bufo, if you can vote.. let´ s say from 0 to 5 star… which on you put this book?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kutya!

      Well, let’s see. Due to the abrupt ending, it can’t get five stars. I’m going to possibly cheat, here, and go with a half star type rating…I’ll go with three and a half.

      I see the five star system roughly this way:

      1 star = I hated it
      2 star = I didn’t like it
      3 star = It was okay
      4 star = I liked it
      5 star = I loved it

      If I can only do whole stars, I guess I’d go with a four. It was better than just okay…but if I don’t read the second one, that’s fine with me.

  3. Tom Semple Says:

    A few days after I read it (via KOLL) it was the Kindle Daily Deal for $.99. I bought it, knowing Vol 2 would be coming out and that I might need to review it. The abrupt ending didn’t bother me as there will be another installment. Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite authors, solo or as part of a writing team.

    In the meantime, I plan to read up on this historical period.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Yep, I promoted is as the Kindle Daily Deal here…I happened to be reading it at the time. :)

      I know there were important battles at Legnica and Mohi, but I don’t know much about them.

  4. 100 Kindle books for $3.99 or less each: March 2013 | I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] You can read my review of it here: Review: The Mongoliad: Book One. [...]

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