Skip to main content

Book Review - The Mongoliad Book 1

Neal Stephenson speaking at Google,
Neal Stephenson speaking at Google, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve been wondering if Neal Stephenson has decided to write a best seller of every genre’.  Diamond Age is cyberpunk. The Baroque Cycle is picaresque. Reamde and Crytonomicon are action/adventure.  Anathem is science fiction/fantasy.  If we see a romance and a murder mystery come from his inventive pen, we’ll know that my conjecture is indeed correct.

In a way, Mr. Anderson is crowdsourcing his latest work, with the first book of The Mongoliad Trilogy recently published with co-authors Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey and Cooper Moo.  Or perhaps he has seen the commercial success of Game of Thrones, and is creating the script writing team for the series.  (His books would be rather complicated to turn into a movie.  A Lord of the Rings series would be more appropriate.  The Baroque Cycle would have to be a series.)
I continue to view him as the most creative and inventive author writing today.  This first volume is set in the medieval era and focuses on conflict between Mongols and Western Europeans.  As with many of his prior books, a big list of characters is introduced, with multiple plot lines that experienced Anderson readers know will eventually converge.  Based on volume one I would characterize this as action fiction.  A thinly veiled Knights of the Round Table plans to take on one of the sons of Ghenghis Khan (Ogedei– Khagan-or Khan of Khans) with the goal of causing a retreat of the Mongols from what otherwise seems likely to become the complete occupation and sacking of all of Europe.

Protaganists from Volume I. are Cnan, a member of a clan named The Binders, a kind of stealthy gypsy band, and Gensukh, a Mongol warrior, sent from his officer position in the field by his father, to the court of Ogedei Khan, overlord of the Mongols.  Cnan ends up entangled with the knights, using her tracking and hiding skills as a scout and occasionally as a one-woman diversion. 

While there is action, the first segment of the series clearly is stage setting.  Keep the book handy; you will need to refresh your memory as to the legion of characters and chapter endings before opening Book 2.

I haven’t read anything by Stephenson that I wouldn’t recommend.  The Mongoliad is no exception.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: What Matters Now by Gary Hamel

Interview of Eric Schmidt by Gary Hamel at the MLab dinner tonight. Google's Marissa Mayer and Hal Varian also joined the open dialog about Google's culture and management style, from chaos to arrogance. The video just went up on YouTube. It's quite entertaining. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Cover of The Future of ManagementMy list of must-read business writers continues to expand.Gary Hamel, however, author of What Matters Now, with the very long subtitle of How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation, has been on the list for quite some time.Continuing his thesis on the need for a new approach to management introduced in his prior book The Future of Management, Hamel calls for a complete rethinking of how enterprises are run.

Fundamental to his recommendation is that the practice of management is ossified in a command and control system that is now generations old and needs to be replaced with something that reflects an educat…

Book Review- Stretch by Scott Sonenshein

Have you ever watched, or been involved in, a business failure, where, despite the best efforts of hardworking people, the business doesn’t survive? Scott Sonenshein lived through it, as he describes in the Introduction to his engrossing book Stretch.  (In some books, the reader can skip the intro- not this one; the introduction is a must-read part of the book.) He was hired by start-up Vividence in Silicon Valley at the very apex of the tech boom.  Despite prestige VC backers, top-tier hires and $50 million, Vividence didn’t make it. As his career continued, that experience led to an interest in why some well-funded operations don’t succeed, while other, more resource constrained, do. Peter Senge wrote about reinforcing cycles as part of his book The Fifth Discipline, which I consider one of the finest business books ever penned. In it, Senge describes the downward cycle that some companies fall into, and why it is so difficult to reverse. Sonenshein explores those cycles from diffe…

Tax Inversions

A savvy businessman once told me “it’s important to know what problem you are trying to solve”.
Let’s ignore for the moment whether or not Treasury or the IRS had the power to change the rules on so-called tax inversions without Congressional action. (The power they said they didn’t have only a few months ago.)
Rather, let’s focus on what problem we are trying to solve. That is, why is the greatest country on earth chasing companies away? Shouldn’t the U.S. be the place that companies want to locate their headquarters?
Imagine this: the U.S. legal structure and tax regime was so attractive that Mercedes, Toyota, Astra Zeneca, Samsung, Total, Singapore Air, Banco Santander, Petrobras, Fujitsu, Nokia, SAP, Audi, Tata Group, Lenovo, Pirelli, Deutsche Bank, Honda, LG, Hyundai, Roche, Credit Suisse, Four Seasons, Siemens, Phillips, Bridgestone, Anglo-America, DeBeers, Volkswagen, Canon,  L’Oréal, Swatch, Armani, LVMH, Toshiba, H&M, Mahindra, Aldi, Kubota, Onex, Ducati, Pemex, Saudi-Ara…