The one and only Conn Iggulden takes on the story of the mighty Kublai Khan. An epic tale of a great and heroic mind; his action-packed ruâ¤ and how in conquering one-fifth of the world """"s inhabited land, he changed the course of history forever.
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December 27, 2011
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Excerpt from Conqueror by Conn Iggulden
ONE A storm growled over Karakorum city, the streets and avenues running in streams as the rain hammered down in the darkness. Outside the thick walls, thousands of sheep huddled together in their enclosures. The oil in their fleeces protected them from the rain, but they had not been led to pasture and hunger made them bleat and yammer to each other. At intervals, one or more of them would rear up mindlessly on its fellows, forming a hillock of kicking legs and wild eyes before they fell back into the squirming mass.
The khan's palace was lit with lamps that spat and crackled on the outer walls and gates. Inside, the sound of rain was a low roar that rose and fell in intensity, pouring as solid sheets over the cloisters. Servants gazed out into the yards and gardens, lost in the mute fascination that rain can hold. They stood in groups, reeking of wet wool and silk, their duties abandoned for a time while the storm passed.
For Guyuk, the sound of the rain merely added to his irritation, much as a man humming would have interrupted his thoughts. He poured wine carefully for his guest and stayed away from the open window where the stone sill was already dark with wetness. The man who had come at his request looked nervously around at the audience room. Guyuk supposed its size would create awe in anyone more used to the low gers of the plains. He remembered his own first nights in the silent palace, oppressed by the thought that such a weight of stone and tile would surely fall and crush him. He could chuckle now at such things, but he saw his guest's eyes flicker up to the great ceiling more than once. Guyuk smiled. His father, Ogedai, had dreamed a great man's dreams when he made Karakorum.
As Guyuk put down the stone jug of wine and returned to his guest, the thought tightened his mouth into a thin line. His father had not had to court the princes of the nation, to bribe, beg, and threaten merely to be given the title that was his by right.