And then there are the tribal conferences.
Alliance with the Tartars? The rise of Genghis Khan was prophesied indeed, but Hammond portrays it as a chancy, supremely complicated and unfolding thing, lived out in the minds of those who—on horseback and in tents—crafted the largest empire known to man. As the fate of Tchingis Khan continues its extraordinary course in Tribal Wars , the tale expected of a conqueror—his unification of the Mongols thus the enormous sweep of the steppes by dint of martial talent, native wit and bloodshed—is well and intricately told.
But less expectedly the story of Temujin, conqueror as human being, is brought to the fore. In particular his tortured relationship to his blood brother, lover and erstwhile enemy, Jamuqa, is here deepened, developed, and brought to an ending dramatic, and deeply tragic, as any that I know. In Tribal Brawls a battle supremely important to Tchingis is depicted in two pages….
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Such steppe people as Tchingis did not woo, he had to conquer to embrace. Hammond is—could it be gleefully? If you are bothered by such anachronism, you will be bothered.
And to me at least, her authorial anachronism suggests a Shakespeare play staged in a radically different time and place, so to convey—bass beat under melodies—that the drama is universally human at its core. Speaking of surprises, one more thing—I love the strength, depth and wisdom of the women in Amgalant, given a society and a time in which they were a spoil of war. In sum—as begun—this trilogy is unique and wonderful though not necessarily easy. Hats off to Hammond for her long, loving and genial discipline. Her recent essay on the craft of historical fiction can be downloaded for free from Rounded Globe.
Amgalant One: The Old Ideal - IndieReader
Sacrifices are said to earn grace. Has Temujin's God a grace for him, or for Jamuqa his oath-brother, who never believed in divine missions and whose fight has cost him dear? Or can they make their own? In unity is strength - one way or another.
ISBN-10 1943091676, ISBN-13 978-1943091
Hammond studied medieval history and literature while in college. She describes herself as a writer-in-a-garret and someone who does not pay much attention to the practical side of life. She currently lives in Australia. Tribal Brawls picks up where The Old Ideal leaves off. There is no need to hide the main focus of the book; it is the rise of Genghis Khan.
Some common knowledge of Genghis Khan is more myth and legend than fact. The West tends to write history from its perspective rather neutral ground.
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Even the history of something as recent as the American Revolutionary War is not without controversies. It is held as a nearly holy event in American history, while in Britain, it is considered a minor civil war — a minor bump in their history.
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What Hammond does differently than most, and yes, I do know her book is historical fiction and not history, is use the Mongol text The Secret History of the Mongols. This text is thought to have been a copy written in the 14th century. The text remained unknown in the West until the early twentieth century.
Author Alliance’s Joseph Spuckler reviews Amgalant Two: Tribal Brawls by Bryn Hammond
It is the most detailed account of Mongol history we have. Hammond uses The Secret History as her outline and creates and epic series on the life of Genghis Khan. This creates the background history for the novel, and with it comes hundreds of pages of story. Of course, anyone can open up Wikipedia and get the CliffsNotes version, but you would be missing a great deal.
Perhaps most important in understanding another people, is understanding their culture. This is where Hammond takes Tribal Brawls above and beyond most histories and beyond any history of the Mongols I have encountered. Culture tells the how and why. Here we have the politics, the rivalries, the explanations of the conquerors, the interaction of the people, the beliefs of the people, and what it meant to be a Mongol.