‘I am the Winter’ – Genghis Khan

‘A Review of Wolf of the Plains’. Author : Conn Iggulden

Statue of Genghis Khan in Ulan Baator, Mongolia.

By Michael Ronald, Editor.

The First Book in a Trilogy on the legendary Mongolian Conqueror, ‘Wolf Of the Plains’ by Conn Iggulden causes the reader to delve into the Nomadic Mongolian society of the 12th & 13th century AD. Divided by ancient Tribes and constantly warring, the Mongols were firmly under the domination of the Ancient Chinese Empires. A young boy, Temujin and his family are abandoned by their Tribe to a cruel and lingering death. This was the inception of the World’s largest Land Empire of all time.

Writing Style

The book is written with Iggulden’s devotion to great detail, especially across the first person narrative. The depth of perspective is set amidst the almost casual elimination of important characters and figures in Genghis’s history. While his approach to simplify the number of characters and plot lines may infuriate those requiring devotion to actual history, it does permit the book to eloquently describe an eventful and intrepid life.

While Genghis Khan is often detracted by historians as a genocidal butcher, his phoenix-laden rise from absolute obscurity to ruling a collection of contentious Mongol Tribes speaks of a thinker and a philosopher regularly judged by contemporary moral standards. The world he was born to was tumultuous, harsh and often merciless. People on the cold Mongolian plains were forced to migrate constantly due to the harsh weather and inhospitable land. Nomadic tribes often raided each other for supplies and animals, leading to constant patterns of war and ingrained disunity. People sought comfort in the safety of numbers and to be considered ‘tribeless’ was to be seen as awaiting an imminent death. Criminals were expelled from the Tribes as punishment while the old and sick were often left behind on difficult migrations. They were the dregs of Mongol society

Temujin (later Genghis Khan) was the younger son of a Khan, or leader of a tribe. When his father was assassinated, Temujin and his family were expelled by the new Khan, wary of a potential threat. However, rather than spill their blood himself, the new Khan left them to die on the Winter plains in the coldest months of the year.

Rather than give up and succumb, the young family were held together by Temujin and told in no uncertain terms that they would survive if they were united. He began to welcome these outcasts, seeing in them a bond that transcended history, tribes and clans. Every Mongolian was of the Same People and they must unite to crush their enemies. Exerting both diplomacy and force, he persuaded the other tribes of Mongolia to forget old divisions and share his vision of a single People.

The characterisation of Genghis and the evolution of his thoughts are well examined and analysed by Iggulden. Ingrained into his birth was the distaste of being a tribeless nomad, yet his reaction to that fate showed a determination that is skilfully captured through this novel.

Definitely a series to not be missed by readers of world History, the story of the Great Mongol is both riveting and engaging for others to be hooked.

Rating :
**** – Highly Recommended. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *