Having launched an epic cast of characters into motion in The Mongoliad: Book One, Stephenson et alia face the challenge of keeping most of them moving without getting too far ahead of the plot of this alternate history of the 13th-century Mongolian expansion into Europe. The focus shifts to Rome, where Father Rodrigo arrives with a mysteriously apocalyptic message for Pope Gregory IX, who has just died. Wounded, delirious, and barely aware of his surroundings after surviving a devastating Mongol onslaught in Hungary, Rodrigo is thrust into the machinations to elect a pope who will stand against the Holy Roman Emperor. Several Shield-Brethren skirmish with the Mongols as they journey to Karakorum to assassinate Ogedei Khan, and others antagonize the Knights of the Livonian Order. Suggestions of revelations to come combine with expertly crafted fight sequences and immensely enjoyable characters to hold the reader’s interest despite the story ending no further along than it was at the beginning. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2012 Release date: 09/25/2012 Genre: Fiction
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