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The Mongoliad: Book Two

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With bonus material! This Kindle edition features extra content only found in the Collector’s Edition of The Mongoliad: Book Two, including an illustrated character glossary, a Foreworld map, and Dreamer, a prequel to the Mongoliad series. This riveting second installment in Stephenson and company’s epic tale focuses on the aftermath of the world-shattering Mongolian invasi With bonus material! This Kindle edition features extra content only found in the Collector’s Edition of The Mongoliad: Book Two, including an illustrated character glossary, a Foreworld map, and Dreamer, a prequel to the Mongoliad series. This riveting second installment in Stephenson and company’s epic tale focuses on the aftermath of the world-shattering Mongolian invasion of 1241 and the difficult paths undertaken by its most resilient survivors. The Shield Brethren, an order of warrior monks, search for a way to overthrow the horde, even as the invaders take its members hostage. Forced to fight in the Mongols’ Circus of Swords, Haakon must prove his mettle or lose his life in the ring. His bravery may impress the enemy, but freedom remains a distant dream. Father Rodrigo receives a prophecy from God and believes it’s his mission to deliver the message to Rome. Though a peaceful man, he resigns himself to take up arms in the name of his Lord. Joining his fight to save Christendom are the hunter Ferenc, orphan Ocyrhoe, healer Raphael, and alchemist Yasper, each searching for his place in history. Deftly blending fact and fantasy, The Mongoliad: Book Two captures the indomitable will to survive against immense odds.


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With bonus material! This Kindle edition features extra content only found in the Collector’s Edition of The Mongoliad: Book Two, including an illustrated character glossary, a Foreworld map, and Dreamer, a prequel to the Mongoliad series. This riveting second installment in Stephenson and company’s epic tale focuses on the aftermath of the world-shattering Mongolian invasi With bonus material! This Kindle edition features extra content only found in the Collector’s Edition of The Mongoliad: Book Two, including an illustrated character glossary, a Foreworld map, and Dreamer, a prequel to the Mongoliad series. This riveting second installment in Stephenson and company’s epic tale focuses on the aftermath of the world-shattering Mongolian invasion of 1241 and the difficult paths undertaken by its most resilient survivors. The Shield Brethren, an order of warrior monks, search for a way to overthrow the horde, even as the invaders take its members hostage. Forced to fight in the Mongols’ Circus of Swords, Haakon must prove his mettle or lose his life in the ring. His bravery may impress the enemy, but freedom remains a distant dream. Father Rodrigo receives a prophecy from God and believes it’s his mission to deliver the message to Rome. Though a peaceful man, he resigns himself to take up arms in the name of his Lord. Joining his fight to save Christendom are the hunter Ferenc, orphan Ocyrhoe, healer Raphael, and alchemist Yasper, each searching for his place in history. Deftly blending fact and fantasy, The Mongoliad: Book Two captures the indomitable will to survive against immense odds.

30 review for The Mongoliad: Book Two

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bret Mogilefsky

    The fragmented, under-edited narrative introduced in the first book lurches forward, becoming so much more fragmented and under-edited along the way that it nearly collapses under it's own weight. To an already dizzying array of characters and plotlines of the first volume you can add an entire new set of barely distinguishable cardinals vying to be the next pope in the slowest, least believable manner possible. The book grinds along in a workman-like fashion, occasionally entertaining when it d The fragmented, under-edited narrative introduced in the first book lurches forward, becoming so much more fragmented and under-edited along the way that it nearly collapses under it's own weight. To an already dizzying array of characters and plotlines of the first volume you can add an entire new set of barely distinguishable cardinals vying to be the next pope in the slowest, least believable manner possible. The book grinds along in a workman-like fashion, occasionally entertaining when it dwells in a moment of tactics-porn, the admitted common love of the authors. More even than the first volume, this feels exactly like what it is: a disjointed mess of a book, thinly and cynically laying the groundwork for an expansive multimedia IP. Neal Stephenson has always tended to ramble, but it was forgivable when he was the only one doing it and a coherent story was still being told. I don't care how much you like Neal Stephenson; you can skip this. Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, and I won't be reading the third book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    For the first, and only time I received an email to alert me to the fact that one of my Kindle books had been improved since I had bought it. My copy of The Mongoliad: Book Two had been improved with a short-story prequel called The Dreamer and a map (I love maps) – maybe these ebook things are the future of books after all. As I may have moaned about in my previous review, The Mongoliad: Book One, multi-point-of-view epic fantasy novels like this scream out for a map. As the characters move abo For the first, and only time I received an email to alert me to the fact that one of my Kindle books had been improved since I had bought it. My copy of The Mongoliad: Book Two had been improved with a short-story prequel called The Dreamer and a map (I love maps) – maybe these ebook things are the future of books after all. As I may have moaned about in my previous review, The Mongoliad: Book One, multi-point-of-view epic fantasy novels like this scream out for a map. As the characters move about you want to be able to picture their journey, you want to know how far apart different sub-plots are taking place – in short, you need a map, or two maps, or pages of maps. The map is nothing special, but it's certainly adequate. The Kindle only shows it in black and white, but I did discover that if you move the cursor onto the map and select it rotates the map to fill the whole screen – fabulous. Mark Teppo's short-story, The Dreamer, is the tale of a visitor to the La Verna retreat of Saint Francis of Assisi. Set a few years before the events of The Mongoliad: Book One, in 1224, the story covers the arrival of the Crusader, Raphael, into the community of Francis and his Fratricelli, and the excitement that causes amongst the brothers. Alternate chapters are presented as flashbacks to the first meeting of Francis and Raphael, during the fifth crusade at Damietta through 1218–1219. Raphael is the same crusader who features in the Shield Brethren in the Mongoliad some years later (in 1241). I don't know exactly how the writing duties of The Mongoliad are divided up, but Mark Teppo seems to have an affinity with Raphael – I understand that Sinner concentrates on the same character as well – but this short story provides a fascinating insight into the origins of one of the epic's side characters. Flash forward to 1241 – The Mongoliad: Book Two picks up the story from the end of Book One. My complaint that that novel didn't really finish is answered with the realisation that the trilogy is obviously going to be one continual story rather than three stories. That's fine, but I felt a little let down at the end of book one – I wanted some sort of resolution. I'm not expecting one this time. Again, chapters jump between a number of stories rather than specific character viewpoints. Firstly the new story is that of Ferenc and Father Rodrigo Bendrito having completed their difficult journey to Rome. A journey that seems to have almost cost the priest his life. Rome itself is under a siege – of sorts – the Cardinals of Rome are being held in conclave. The Pope is dead and a new one needs to be selected. However, there is intrigue that the Borgias would be proud of and the Cardinals aren't going to be allowed out until they have selected the 'correct' new Pope. We also get to meet a new character, Ocyrhoe, who appears to be a strong parallel to Cnán from the previous novel. Not only does Ocyrhoe pretty much replace her as the designated interesting female character, she also appears to be one of those strange Binder people that we didn't really learn much about before. Somehow she manages to communicate with Ferenc through a language of knots – I'm looking forward to finding out more about these Binders, but there's only the third book to go... The second story splits into two, having won his battles in the Mongolian Circus in Book One, Haakon's reward appears to be that he's shoved in a cage and transported across the Mongol empire as a prize for the Khan. Meanwhile his companions are left behind with no idea where he has gone. Instead they are distracted with their quarrels with the Livonian Knights and their attempts to form an alliance against the Mongols with the Khan's prize fighters. In a fashion reminiscent of the Baker Street Irregulars, the orphans, organised by Hans, acts as the go-between between these prize fighters and the Shield Brethren. The second group of Shield Brethren are still moving across the Mongol empire, with Cnán in tow (although she seems to play a much reduced role this time – possibly to make room for Ocyrhoe and Vera of the Shield Maidens). Having reached Kiev, they have liberated a group of Shield Maidens who were under siege by a group of Livonian Knights (these guys sound like right bastards) and are being chased by a group of Mongol warriors. Finally, the continuing romance part of the story, between Gansukh and Lian, in the Khagan's party as he takes a spiritual journey back to his home. To try and put his demons to rest and rediscover his Mongol heart. He cannot remain the leader of the Mongol empire unless he can control his drinking. Meanwhile Lian would love to escape on the journey – but with, or without Gansukh? Again, it's a transition novel. The stories introduced in the first novel are continued, but not finished. New stories are introduced in Rome, but also not finished. I couldn't put the novel down, and I raced through it. Each of the storylines is slightly different – presumably as a result of the, frankly massive writing cast splitting the duties between them. Apart from some slightly awkward similarities between Cnán and Ocyrhoe, neither the characters nor the storylines become blurred and all manage to retain their unique qualities. I hope the final novel ties up the loose ends, until then I'll have to hunt down the short stories.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric Mesa

    This is a very hard book to properly review. Unlike a typical book in a trilogy (or however many books it ends up being - at the time this book was published it was a trilogy), this book does not contain a story that begins and ends within the larger story. But as this book started I realized this would be the case. It essentially just continues exactly where the last one left off as if this was not a series of books, but rather one large book that's been split into publishable chunks of 300 pag This is a very hard book to properly review. Unlike a typical book in a trilogy (or however many books it ends up being - at the time this book was published it was a trilogy), this book does not contain a story that begins and ends within the larger story. But as this book started I realized this would be the case. It essentially just continues exactly where the last one left off as if this was not a series of books, but rather one large book that's been split into publishable chunks of 300 pages each. (Although, to put the lie to my point, the final chapter does have a very satisfying final sentence for ending a book) This book takes the groups we were following last time - Feronantus and his knights, Gansukh and Lian, Zug and Kim, and the Kagan - and adds another group: the Cardinals in Rome who have to elect a new pope plus a couple outsiders key to that story. I don't remember exactly how I felt about the different stories in the last book, but in this book each set of characters is in a place in their narrative that keeps it very engaging and fun. And so I gave this book a 4/5 because I found each of the storylines to be a lot of fun. I know that Neal Stephenson and crew (for this is a book with a lot of authors) are obviously altering some of history to tell this story. Or, if there actually was a Christian military order who went off to kill the Great Khan, obviously we wouldn't know the details to this level. Which is to say that while I know part of this book is fiction, as a huge history nerd (although I can't remember details to save my life - thankfully at the college and above level it's more about motivations than details) I love learning about this portion of history I'm completely ignorant of. Throughout high school and college we just skipped over the middle ages as if nothing important was happening. And yet I learned via Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (which I think was the impetus to get me to check out this series) that Europe as we know it almost ceased to exist because of Mongol power. And it was only an accident of history that gave us the white-European dominated last 800 years. So learning about the Khazars - a Jewish steppes people that once had a huge empire, but at this time (in the book) just have one city left is pretty incredible. As are a million other details that Stephenson and crew include.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    The background of The Mongoliad is an interesting story, almost more interesting than the book itself. Basically, a lot of guys got together and started learning sword fighting and created a historical world around it all. What you have is an impressive list of authors working on a shared-universe story that's boiled down into a single book. Dozens of characters, and plots all weaving in and out of each other. Sounds impressive, eh? Trust me, it sounds a lot better than it actually is. This is no The background of The Mongoliad is an interesting story, almost more interesting than the book itself. Basically, a lot of guys got together and started learning sword fighting and created a historical world around it all. What you have is an impressive list of authors working on a shared-universe story that's boiled down into a single book. Dozens of characters, and plots all weaving in and out of each other. Sounds impressive, eh? Trust me, it sounds a lot better than it actually is. This is not Erikson. Instead, it's a lot of ideas tossed into a pot and stewed until it's all indistinguishable and equally unappealing. The plot threads are even more unraveled this time than the first book. While the first installment was a fairly interesting martial tale, this one takes long meanders down threads that go nowhere and are remarkably uninteresting. The interesting plots in the first book lack the focus they had, now that everything's watered down with remarkably dull plots. It lacks focus, voice, and more importantly, meaning. A pointless story, even if you only show up for the action. Perhaps you guys tied it together in the third book, but I don't care enough to find out.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    The first Mongoliad was great - exciting, fast-paced, and engaging. I had high hopes for the second installment, but it was a major disappointment. Slow, boring, with too many added characters. There wasn't the cohesiveness of the first book, or the sense of urgency. Very disappointed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I didn't like this book as much as the first one for one reason - the characters that I loved from the first book are hardly present in this volume. Instead you get even more characters who seem too much alike, including more knights. I missed Cnan who was almost an non-enitity in this one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    3 1/2 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rob Adey

    Another volume of exciting RPG-style adventure. Pretty sure the authors are keeping track of their (many) battle scenes with tabletop miniatures (probably lovingly crafted with tiny hammers by some blacksmith in Seattle) but to be honest, screw any books that aren't written by authors keeping track of the battle scenes with tabletop miniatures. This part suffers slightly from being a bit inbetweeny - all the strands are in the middle of what they're up to, and I couldn't always remember who was w Another volume of exciting RPG-style adventure. Pretty sure the authors are keeping track of their (many) battle scenes with tabletop miniatures (probably lovingly crafted with tiny hammers by some blacksmith in Seattle) but to be honest, screw any books that aren't written by authors keeping track of the battle scenes with tabletop miniatures. This part suffers slightly from being a bit inbetweeny - all the strands are in the middle of what they're up to, and I couldn't always remember who was who and what they'd been up to in the first book. But I guess ideally you'd read the entire series in one go, or indeed read it in ongoing 'serial' style, which I think is the idea of subscribing to the Mongoliad site.

  9. 4 out of 5

    terpkristin

    Audiobook from Brilliance Audio Narrated by Luke Daniels Length: 12.5 hours Note: I received this audiobook as a complete package with a prequel, Dreamer: A Prequel to the Mongoliad, included. This review only covers The Mongoliad: Book Two, as I reviewed Dreamer: A Prequel to the Mongoliad separately. Much like The Mongoliad: Book One, The Mongoliad: Book Two tells a myriad of parallel stories, all centered around the Mongol conquests in medieval Europe. There isn't much that I can say about this b Audiobook from Brilliance Audio Narrated by Luke Daniels Length: 12.5 hours Note: I received this audiobook as a complete package with a prequel, Dreamer: A Prequel to the Mongoliad, included. This review only covers The Mongoliad: Book Two, as I reviewed Dreamer: A Prequel to the Mongoliad separately. Much like The Mongoliad: Book One, The Mongoliad: Book Two tells a myriad of parallel stories, all centered around the Mongol conquests in medieval Europe. There isn't much that I can say about this book, Book Two, that I didn't say in my review of Book One. This book continues most of the plot lines opened in Book One, and adds a couple more. I suppose/suspect that each different author wrote a different parallel story. I'm not sure that a book that is the overall length of the trilogy (the first two books are about 13 hours long each, the third is about 22 hours long) really needs as many parallel stories as the books seem to have--and that's before I've started Book Three, which may add more stories. It's like reading a story with as many parallel plot lines as The Wheel of Time series or the A Song of Ice and Fire series but with a fraction of the total page count. This makes it confusing to keep track of story progress (overall) and each of the characters. This is also made more confusing by the odd names used. As I wrote in my review of Book One, I suspect that this would be easier to read in print, or at least with a wiki of a cast of characters. I'm amazed that I can't seem to find one online. As with Book One, the book didn't come to any conclusion, it just ended. At least this one didn't end in the middle of a heated battle. Oddly, Book Two didn't pick up exactly where Book One left off. This book started with a new plot line, one with a warrior traveling with a severely injured priest to Rome. I spent a good amount of time when I started Book Two listening and re-listening to the first part; I was trying to jog my memory to remember the plot line from Book One. It took me awhile to realize that the story was brand new for Book Two. The story lines so far seem to be: - The brother knights on their quest to defeat Ogedai (spelling?) Kahn; they have sustained some losses but also have picked up a few extra travelers in their party, including a warrior woman. They also have a brother with them who has visions; he had one in Book One which we saw the outcome of in Book Two. He had another vision in Book Two, which I expect we'll see the resolution of in Book One. - The remaining brother knights trying to distract the Kahn's brother and his traveling circus of fighters; these guys seem to be trying to form a rebellion from within the circus. Andreas is helping to lead this rebellion with the two most prevalent Mongol fighters in the circus. - Ogedai Kahn's point of view, where he is now under attack by the Chinese. - GonSuk, an adviser/guard to Ogedai Kahn (as well as some of his fellow advisers/guards who are with and without him). - The Levonian (spelling?) knights, who seem to be out to try to re-gain status in the world. They seem to be in conflict with the Rose Knights (the brother knights on the quest). Their role is not exactly clear yet, but it seems that they have ties to the church. This was a new story line for Book Two. - The cardinals in Rome who are split into two factions for the election of the next Pope. This was a new story line for Book Two and it's not exactly clear the differences between the factions. - A wandering warrior and a young warrior girl (one similar to the warrior woman with the Rose Knights, though this young girl is still in training), who have been sent on a quest by one of the cardinals; the cardinal who gave them the quest to pass a message was killed. This was also a new story line for Book Two. As much of a downer as this review seems, I'm still intrigued. I don't get it, as this defies most of my typical "rules" for books. This time, I'm going to move right into Book Three, instead of reading a few books in between. Book Three is almost twice as long as Book One or Book Two. I enjoy this world, even though it seems like there are too many story lines and too much going on...with confusing characters. I do think that this world is better-suited to the prequels and the "Side Quest" books. I've already read two of the prequels (and have the other one, Seer: A Prequel to the Mongoliad, ready to read), and have three of the Side Quests ready to read once I'm done with the main story. Stay tuned for my review of Book Three, which will include an overall review of the main story line of the "series."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Soo

    Notes: A+ for Narration by Luke Daniels Some parts are better written than others. This installment was not as interesting as the first and a few of the actions felt overly zealous/out of place.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kim Pallister

    A while back I reviewed the first book of The Mongoliad and quite enjoyed it. I'm a huge Neal Stephenson fan, and another friend of mine, Cooper Moo, was involved in this project, so I was really glad to read it. The Mongoliad: Book Two is not nearly as good as the first. As others have noted, it jumps between a myriad of plot lines with little of the tight interweaving that Stephenson is known for. In a series like this, without an end in sight, this can feel like drudge work to get through as w A while back I reviewed the first book of The Mongoliad and quite enjoyed it. I'm a huge Neal Stephenson fan, and another friend of mine, Cooper Moo, was involved in this project, so I was really glad to read it. The Mongoliad: Book Two is not nearly as good as the first. As others have noted, it jumps between a myriad of plot lines with little of the tight interweaving that Stephenson is known for. In a series like this, without an end in sight, this can feel like drudge work to get through as we don't know if things will come together in the next book, or in ten more. My personal pet peeve is that it's not as tightly edited, so different parts by different authors are clearly varied in their pacing and quality, several of them suffering from the excessive use of adverbs and adjectives that feels like high school composition trying to up the drama but coming off as hammy. That said, it has it's moments, and like the first, there are some great bits of sword-clanging and battleground strategy. These redeem it some, but only partly. I'll hold off on the third book and see in a few months if I'm still itching to get back into the series.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Trunatrschild

    I have difficulty with reviewing this book... it was okay, it didn't live up to the excitement and action of the first book, it was like a place holder story telling between the first book and the third. I personally dislike books that HAVE to be read in order, I just think it's a cheap marketing ploy, over used in these modern times. This book wasn't bad, but from the beginning, I just got the idea that it was just stretching out the series, maybe because it didn't have the drama, the action or I have difficulty with reviewing this book... it was okay, it didn't live up to the excitement and action of the first book, it was like a place holder story telling between the first book and the third. I personally dislike books that HAVE to be read in order, I just think it's a cheap marketing ploy, over used in these modern times. This book wasn't bad, but from the beginning, I just got the idea that it was just stretching out the series, maybe because it didn't have the drama, the action or 'world building' of the first book, so in comparison it seemed pretty vanilla. I will get the third in the hopes that it can compare to the first, but this book.... it wasn't anything special. I would say to buy it, because I have a feeling that you have to read it to understand the third, but after reading the third, will I think that the series is useful? I don't know....these sort of series should be reviewed as a whole as they're not really stand alone books.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dev Null

    My biggest complaint about the first book in this series was that it had too many characters that didn't seem necessary to the story. It felt like a recounting of a role-playing game, where everyone's character had to get a mention and do something cool, but almost none of them were particularly tied to the plot. So of course this book introduces a whole new set of characters, without really tying any of them to the plot of the first book at all. This one slips a bit further into what another revi My biggest complaint about the first book in this series was that it had too many characters that didn't seem necessary to the story. It felt like a recounting of a role-playing game, where everyone's character had to get a mention and do something cool, but almost none of them were particularly tied to the plot. So of course this book introduces a whole new set of characters, without really tying any of them to the plot of the first book at all. This one slips a bit further into what another reviewer called "tactics-porn" - I quite like that phrase, so consider it stolen. Not _too_ often, but we get occasional battle scenes lovingly described in such clear detail that I can tell the author(s) could picture every move... but I can't, lacking their knowledge of martial arts. I didn't find this too excessive - I could just skip ahead to the end of the scene - but if that sort of thing annoys you anywhere then it may here.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    Over all, I enjoyed Book 2 of the Mongoliad. The problem with writing a trilogy like a round-robin-campfire story, is that Book 1 appeared to be the beginning and climax of the story without end, and Book 2 seems to be the transitional phase between climax and resolution...and that's just kind of hard to get into, especially when the main characters from Book 1 are reduced to subplotting, to introduce new characters that may or may not play a pivotal role in Book 3... I didn't really understand Over all, I enjoyed Book 2 of the Mongoliad. The problem with writing a trilogy like a round-robin-campfire story, is that Book 1 appeared to be the beginning and climax of the story without end, and Book 2 seems to be the transitional phase between climax and resolution...and that's just kind of hard to get into, especially when the main characters from Book 1 are reduced to subplotting, to introduce new characters that may or may not play a pivotal role in Book 3... I didn't really understand the beginning showing Raphael's back story? The adventure is still as interesting,but now there is an air of confusion as well. No questions were really answered and more questions were revealed. Or maybe I waited too long in between reading the 1st book and the 2nd...A mistake I won't make again. My next read will be Book 3.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    The first Mongoliad book was a happy surprise. It was interesting and different, and kicked a little ass. I was hoping more of the same for book two. Instead we have the dreaded sophomore slump. The second book in a planned trilogy spends so much time focused on setting up the pieces towards part three, that it forgets to deliver a strong plot. It is four hundred pages of characters shifting and positioning but with no real pay off. This is a growing trend in trilogy story writing. But what people f The first Mongoliad book was a happy surprise. It was interesting and different, and kicked a little ass. I was hoping more of the same for book two. Instead we have the dreaded sophomore slump. The second book in a planned trilogy spends so much time focused on setting up the pieces towards part three, that it forgets to deliver a strong plot. It is four hundred pages of characters shifting and positioning but with no real pay off. This is a growing trend in trilogy story writing. But what people forget is that the middle one can be the best id treated with respect. It can be The Empire Strikes Back where all the bad ass stuff goes down and everybody becomes fully committed to the conflict and eventual final resolution. I am going to read part three soon, but two was such a bore compared to the first.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peyotitlan

    The second book in the series, which now has a great span covering with additional novellas. This second book is good but I am afraid that I found it slow to start and slightly disjointed. I personally felt that this book was slightly disjointed. I much preferred the first book but the third and final novel seems rather promising as things were fully set up for the final installment. I will continue with the third and final book. There are various novellas from the Mongoliad universe, but I am afr The second book in the series, which now has a great span covering with additional novellas. This second book is good but I am afraid that I found it slow to start and slightly disjointed. I personally felt that this book was slightly disjointed. I much preferred the first book but the third and final novel seems rather promising as things were fully set up for the final installment. I will continue with the third and final book. There are various novellas from the Mongoliad universe, but I am afraid me venturing into them will very much depend on book 3 matching the first book in quality and entertainment.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Powersamurai

    After the first one, I'm disappointed that this feels more disjointed, only because sometimes the timeline zigzags forwards: 2 steps forward, 1 step back. That is, you see a scene from one POV, you are ready to go on to more and you are dragged back to part way through the previous scene from another POV. After a while it becomes a bit of a chore. Also, there are many more story lines in book 2 which made it even harder to keep the threads together. It was an effort trying to remember which card After the first one, I'm disappointed that this feels more disjointed, only because sometimes the timeline zigzags forwards: 2 steps forward, 1 step back. That is, you see a scene from one POV, you are ready to go on to more and you are dragged back to part way through the previous scene from another POV. After a while it becomes a bit of a chore. Also, there are many more story lines in book 2 which made it even harder to keep the threads together. It was an effort trying to remember which cardinal was on who's side when electing the new pope, which they still haven't done. If I didn't have book 3 already, I may have given up here.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

    Uneven historical fiction who's only claim to a sf label is the name of some of the authors in this multi-author work. Bits of this one are certainly better than the first. But way too many characters and way to slow. The Binders are interesting - basically a matriarchal secret society that has a secret silent language. But the rest of it - is pretty much just whatever.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    I thought this was more inconsistently written than the first book, some of the sections had an uneasy, stilted cadence. That being said the storyline is just as captivating, imaginative, and fun as book 1. I definitely look forward to the finale, as well as the prequels.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I didn’t like this one quite as much as Book One of the Mongoliad, though I still enjoyed it. The team of writers adds more people and subplots to a narrative that already had a few too many underdeveloped characters in it, showcasing a weakness of collaborative fiction. As I found out in the videogame industry, it’s more natural for a team of creatives to keep adding things than to take things out. (But with videogames, you don’t question that a mustachioed plumber must battle walking mushrooms I didn’t like this one quite as much as Book One of the Mongoliad, though I still enjoyed it. The team of writers adds more people and subplots to a narrative that already had a few too many underdeveloped characters in it, showcasing a weakness of collaborative fiction. As I found out in the videogame industry, it’s more natural for a team of creatives to keep adding things than to take things out. (But with videogames, you don’t question that a mustachioed plumber must battle walking mushrooms and winged turtles, then don raccoon ears and fly through the clouds, to rescue a princess.) The most significant addition is a substory set in Rome, where the election of a new pope * is at hand, and the cardinals sequestered away to perform this task engage in unsavory scheming and machinations, into which a set of new set of protagonists are drawn. In theory, a potentially interesting plot, but in actuality, I had trouble keeping track of the players and there’s little sense, at this point, of what the larger stakes are. Also, I questioned that any of it was a very accurate representation of going-ons in the Vatican (scorpions?). I did find myself absorbed in the novel when it focused on previously established plot threads, such as the team of Western fighters moving east; the young Mongol warrior, Gonsuk, whose job is to keep an eye on the empire’s biggest liability, its unstable ruler; or the captured Chinese woman, Lian, whose desire to escape her Mongol masters wars with her feelings towards Gonsuk. I especially liked the portrayal of Ogadei, the Mongol Khan, who feels ashamed of his alcoholism and seeks to redeem his honor on a quest, but one that exposes him to new perils. But he was one of only a few moderately complex, conflicted characters in the book, emphasizing their absence in other sequences. The authors clearly did a lot of research for this saga, and their careful attention to the details of how fighting was actually conducted in the Middle Ages wasn’t uninteresting to me, someone who’s been fascinated with military history since I was a child. I also appreciated many of the other historical (or at least true-to-legend) details, even if the modern feel and attitude of the writing is anachronistic. However, these positive aspects (which might be less of a draw for other readers) don’t quite make up for the story’s narrative and characterization weaknesses, which stand out more in this book than its predecessor. That said, I can’t help but think that the series, if imperfect as a literary work, would make a great basis for a TV show, after some reworking by a talented screenwriter or two. If you liked the last book a lot, consider my three stars a recommendation. If you were iffy about it, you probably won’t regret stopping there. [* Historical note: In the real world, Pope Innocent IV actually sent a letter to the Mongol ruler, entreating him to accept Christ as his savior and stop invading Europe. The Mongol khan responded with puzzlement, wondering why the Pope felt that he was speaking for God, when God had clearly made it known that the Mongols were to rule the world. He concluded by requiring that the Pope come to the Mongolian capital to pay homage, or be destroyed in turn. Such was the state of interfaith dialogue circa 1250, I guess. If you’re curious about the history of the Mongol Empire and its interactions with Europe, I recommend checking out Dan Carlin’s excellent podcast series on the subject.]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Blake Johnson

    Come blood and fire, disaster or storm, he would triumph. The feather of a buzzard, not a dove. The year of the Rat is coming! The year of my best friend. Let's hope it's a good one. The Mongoliad: Book Two, Father Rodrigo is urgently carrying a message for the pope, but when he wakes up in Rome's Septizodium, he discovers that the Cardinals have all gathered in the wake of the Pope's death, to elect the new pope. Rodrigo's vote holds a lot of sway, his vote will decide the momemtum of the scales. Come blood and fire, disaster or storm, he would triumph. The feather of a buzzard, not a dove. The year of the Rat is coming! The year of my best friend. Let's hope it's a good one. The Mongoliad: Book Two, Father Rodrigo is urgently carrying a message for the pope, but when he wakes up in Rome's Septizodium, he discovers that the Cardinals have all gathered in the wake of the Pope's death, to elect the new pope. Rodrigo's vote holds a lot of sway, his vote will decide the momemtum of the scales. Meanwhile, on the anniversary of his brother Tolui's death, Ögedei is drinking heavily, remembering his brother's sacrifice. The carnival is packing up and hitching the road, a shaman has beseeched Ögedei to drink from the waters of the sacred grove. But enemies are closing in on all sides, some who usurp the fortifications with longbows and some who want the carnival to commence. Vera and her group of shield maidens escort the shield brethren through their lands, but when they separate Vera reveals that the mongols have slaughtered her sisters. In the Septizodium, an inferno breaks out- completely engulfing old man Somercotes. His ring, which signifies his right to a vote, has been stolen. Andreas starts a skirmish and purposefully loses his fight to the Flower Knight, and being so beat up and without the use of his arm, is pressured into the tournament fights, having gained the Khan's battle favors. Now, I'm off to read book 3! "The hardestest thing," Gansukh said, "is to admit you're lost." "No," said Ögedei, lowering his hands. "It is harder to find your way back." ...and he knows there is no hope in this nightmare.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Hill

    Many hands may sometimes make light work, but in this case too many cooks spoiled the soup. This is an unoriginal perspective, as many others have complained about the complexity of the narrative This is not a good book. The story of the main group of adventurers, introduced in the first book, barely advances at all. Instead, we are introduced to new characters in several different plot threads. My count may be wrong, but chapters cycle through: 1) the shield brethren traveling to kill the Khan of Many hands may sometimes make light work, but in this case too many cooks spoiled the soup. This is an unoriginal perspective, as many others have complained about the complexity of the narrative This is not a good book. The story of the main group of adventurers, introduced in the first book, barely advances at all. Instead, we are introduced to new characters in several different plot threads. My count may be wrong, but chapters cycle through: 1) the shield brethren traveling to kill the Khan of Khans; 2) the Mongolian warrior Gansukh and the Chinese slave Lian; 3) another group of shield brethren near Legnica; 4) a Hungarian priest and his young warrior companion, who are later joined by a Roman girl; 5) Catholic Cardinals locked up until they elect a new Pope. The stories of these last two groups occasionally merge. Additionally, interlopers such as the head of another chivalrous order enter the narrative. The resulting story is like an Amtrak trip: too many stops and starts, marring an otherwise nice view. The book would be significantly improved if the authors simply carved out the Roman story and made that a separate book, a complementary plot that is not necessary to the central narrative. As written, it just doesn't hold up under the weight of the plot.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roderick Baxter

    Coming Together As expected, from the second book of a trilogy, it's all starting to come together. As are the various groups scattered around the vast Mongolian Empire. This is just the kind of story that suits me down to the ground. Each group, and in some cases, each character, has their own agenda. Each group having it's own intrigues. Their own interesting plot lines. Separate, yet, somehow, converging. We have gladiators conspiring with Knights to kill Ogedei Kahn. The shield Brethren, war Coming Together As expected, from the second book of a trilogy, it's all starting to come together. As are the various groups scattered around the vast Mongolian Empire. This is just the kind of story that suits me down to the ground. Each group, and in some cases, each character, has their own agenda. Each group having it's own intrigues. Their own interesting plot lines. Separate, yet, somehow, converging. We have gladiators conspiring with Knights to kill Ogedei Kahn. The shield Brethren, warrior monks, trying to infiltrate deep into Mongolian territory, in order to assassinate him also. A group of Cardinals, imprisoned, in a deadlock, voting for the next Pope. Among them, an impostor, on a holy mission. Also among them, a murderous Cardinal, bent on his own fiendish plan, to have his own candidate elected. Then there are the intrigues associated with Ogedei's Court. Plots within plots. Then there is the ragtag Chinese raiders, who are thrown into the mix,seemingly, just for good measure. It's all coming together, ready for book three, that I am already well into. Cue suspenseful music.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Entertaining. Not crazy spectacular. But entertaining. You can clearly tell you are dealing with multiple authors. At first it was bothersome, but then I relaxed and let the stories within the book stand alone (with loose relationships to each other). Similar to my thoughts after completing Book 1, Book 2 is good enough for me to invest in the next portion of the Mongoliad saga. Love the character illustrations and 2 sentence description at the end of the book - good reference material if you ge Entertaining. Not crazy spectacular. But entertaining. You can clearly tell you are dealing with multiple authors. At first it was bothersome, but then I relaxed and let the stories within the book stand alone (with loose relationships to each other). Similar to my thoughts after completing Book 1, Book 2 is good enough for me to invest in the next portion of the Mongoliad saga. Love the character illustrations and 2 sentence description at the end of the book - good reference material if you get lost between chapters/stories.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Good, but not spectacular This saga has an intriguing premise, a stellar stable of authors, a fascinating mix of historical detail and plausible speculation, and a veritable Gordian knot of plot lines. And with all that it can't seem to rise to greatness. Perhaps that is because this volume is just a giant chapter in the greater whole, without a proper beginning, climax, or ending. The writing is good, the characters and settings are interesting, but it just doesn't gel into a comfortably cohesi Good, but not spectacular This saga has an intriguing premise, a stellar stable of authors, a fascinating mix of historical detail and plausible speculation, and a veritable Gordian knot of plot lines. And with all that it can't seem to rise to greatness. Perhaps that is because this volume is just a giant chapter in the greater whole, without a proper beginning, climax, or ending. The writing is good, the characters and settings are interesting, but it just doesn't gel into a comfortably cohesive story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Some new characters are introduced. Still feels like not much really going on and things are feeling stretched out for a second book, though probably it's because there are so many different stories to develop and follow. Most stories are still separate strands that have yet to intertwine so it will be interesting to see how it all comes together. So far it feels like the first and second books (and probably next book too) should have been all combined together, not sure what advantage having th Some new characters are introduced. Still feels like not much really going on and things are feeling stretched out for a second book, though probably it's because there are so many different stories to develop and follow. Most stories are still separate strands that have yet to intertwine so it will be interesting to see how it all comes together. So far it feels like the first and second books (and probably next book too) should have been all combined together, not sure what advantage having the books be separate poses, especially since both ended not with a cliffhanger but just abruptly.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tad Deshler

    I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first one, but still pretty interesting. I think the fact that there were twice as many character sets and settings compared to the first one had something to do with it. Took me a bit of time to figure out what was going on with the new characters. I look forward to some resolution of the various story lines in the final book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I was very disappointed in the second book of this series. The characters from the first book made very limited appearances and it felt like they weren't as well developed as previously. I felt like there were too many new characters and the plot line got very intricate. I'm hoping book three is better.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Exhausting Honestly, I was glad it was over. There must be some sort of upper limit on the number of characters that you can have in one story. There are at least four storylines going on concurrently which is not such a big deal but when there are about a dozen characters in each storyline it gets a bit tiresome.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    I had forgotten everything about book one of this series when I picked up book two, and I still can't remember very much, but this is an engaging, well-written pseudo-historical story. My only complaint is, there are so many disparate plot threads going on at the same time, it gets a little hard to follow at times.

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