The Mongoliad and Kindle Worlds
I quite often discover things after they begin and then go back to the start and eagerly devour the contents. So for some of you this might be old news.
About three months ago I discovered The Mongoliad. It was the first book in what I thought was a trilogy and it was attached to the name Neal Stephenson whom I like to read but it wasn’t Sci-Fi it was more historical fantasy. Now we can argue for hours about genres and honestly Neal himself has quite a position on all of the genre business but I am using Historical Fiction as more of a description than a pigeon holed genre.
Turns out the Trilogy is not a trilogy at all but perhaps five books? The last of which comes out in January-ish of 2014. Further it’s not one series of books but the “medieval era” or “cycle” of books. What? All this confusion led me to learn something I had no idea was happening and further to discover these books are written by hosts of authors not one single person.
As it turns out Neal Stephenson is joined by a host of authors that I had never heard of but have begun reading. Greg Bear, Erik Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo…..the list goes on you can see them all here.
Further this series of books has spawned side quests and seems to be a fiefdom created by Amazon, yes amazon again, has developed something called Kindle Worlds where small time writers can contribute what would have been called fan-fiction years ago to a quickly thickening world of interconnected stories. This fan fiction will be published by Amazon to kindle if approved by the leaders of what is now called The Foreworld Saga.
Back to the Mongoliad….
It is important for you to know that I have never every been a history buff and considered history to be one of my more hated subjects. I considered it dry and hard to digest and nearly impossible to remember the details of over time.
The world created in these books is knitted in and around actual historical events. Many of you will nod and wonder if I have been living under a rock for years, try and give me a moment to explain.
This historical fantasy doesn’t have history as a backdrop to the story, the story is woven into the history. Fictional Characters share conversations and living quarters with historical figures. A group of Knights holding an ancient faith interact with on a conversational level with kings, queens, popes, and cardinals that we can literally look up on Wikipedia. The group of knights, the pillar of the storyline is fictional but nearly everything they do is tightly woven into real historical events.
I know more about the Mongolian empire and the election of a new pope now that I would have ever learned in a thousand hours of history class. More importantly I remember it.
The Knights are of a fictional Order called Ordo Militum Vindicis Intactae, which is translated as the Knights of the Virgin Defender. An military order more ancient that current religions. This small group of very able Knights take key parts in events throughout the time period of the books during the height of the Mongol invasion into Christianity around 1241. Fantasy? For certain, rooted so well in recorded historical events but playing in the shadowy recesses of written history as to be allowable.
The history comes alive for me as I listen into infighting amongst Cardinals electing a new pope or experience firsthand the drunken downfall of Ögedei Khan son of Ghengis Khan as he plunges into a drunken stupor. All of this is tied together by the sword fighting and death that literally held everything together or burnt it all to the ground.
I highly recommend these books (I have read the first four and several side quest books) and if like myself you have a long commute the Audio versions are read with incredible effect by Luke Daniels who currently has a snippet of some of his work (Mongoliad included) on his website.
There are other Kindle Worlds, if you find something interesting let me know by sounding off in the comments below!