Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Mongoliad Saga Continues

Neal Stephenson doing a book signing at the Na...
Neal Stephenson doing a book signing at the National Book Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I wrote a review of Mongoliad Book I, I noted that I was going to keep that book handy because there were so many characters and so many plot threads that I would need a refresher.  Of course, the authors (Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erick Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo) anticipated that, and the front pages list the characters by the area of the world they are located in. This was particularly useful, since the opening of book II picked up with a thread that I didn’t immediately recall, and some of the characters that I remembered the most clearly didn’t reappear until later in the volume. 
Of course the core plot remains unchanged.  A group of knights, the Shield Brethren, similar to the Knights Templar as an order under the direction of the Pope, have concluded that the only way to save all of Europe from being conquered by the Mongols, lead by a descendant of Genghis Khan, is to slay the Khan.  A small band of Shield Brethren along with Cnan, a “Binder”, a remarkably skilled scout, are making their way to Asia on a mission to assassinate said Khan.  Other plot lines concern the comings and goings of the court of the Khagan  - e.g. Khan of Khans and target of the Shield Brethren, the politics of electing a new Pope, and the machinations of the Shield Brethren who’ve remained at their base in an area conquered and controlled by the Mongols.
All of these involve various forms of conflict from intrigue and murder at the Vatican to sword play and violence, as each group works towards what Neal Anderson readers know will be some kind of grand resolution where the subplots eventually join.  Each tale is sufficiently consuming to create another Anderson (or in this case Anderson-team) page turner.
If you are a dedicated Neal Anderson reader (as admittedly I am) this isn’t shaping up as Cryptonomicon, or Anathem.  But, I’ll continue to say that Mr. Anderson’s lesser works are better than most authors’ best stuff.   I devoured the book.  I have no idea how many volumes will eventually comprise the complete Mongoliad, but I’m certain I’ll read them all.

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