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Conn Iggulden

HarperCollins (2007-08)

Wolf of the Plains – Vol 1, ISBN: 978-0007201747

Lords of the Bow – Vol 2, ISBN: 978-0007201778

Bones of the Hills – Vol 3, ISBN: 978-0007201792

Reviewed by David Buchbinder, June 2010

I began reading this series with the second volume, Lords of the Bow, because this was the first book I received and was asked to review.  I find it awkward, of course, to enter a narrative series in the middle—I feel as though I have arrived very belatedly at a party, long after friendships have been made, bonds affirmed, confidences and knowledges exchanged.  I hang about uncomfortably at the edges of the narrative, trying to look as though I were part of the conversation, but feeling a little mystified and often quite shut out of the sharing of memories, ideas and, above all, stories.  Often my engagement in the conversation is based on guesswork about what happened at the party while I wasn’t there.

In a sense, however, it was entirely appropriate that I begin with the middle volume: the series is described on the front covers of each book as “The Epic Story of the Great Conqueror,” and one of the rules of epic narrative, as these came to be formulated in antiquity and codified later, was that such narratives should begin in medias res, that is, literally, “in the middle of things.”  The Conqueror series lives up to its description as an epic narrative, though its author, Conn Iggulden, has chosen to begin his story at the beginning, rather than in the middle.

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