Wolf of the Plains

Wolf of the Plains

infobox Book |
name = Wolf of the Plains
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = "Wolf of the Plains" first edition cover.
author = Conn Iggulden
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series = "Conqueror" series
genre = Historical novel
publisher = HarperCollins
pub_date = January 2, 2007
english_pub_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 464 pp "(first edition)"
isbn = ISBN 0007201745
preceded_by =
followed_by = Lords of the Bow

"Wolf of the Plains", (2007) is a historical novel from British author Conn Iggulden. It is the first book in the "Conqueror series" based on the Mongols of the Asian steppes. It is titled "Genghis: Birth of an Empire" in the USA.

After completing the "Emperor" series on the life of Julius Caesar, Iggulden began research for his next series of books, based on the life of Mongol warlord Genghis Khan. In the author's note of the book, Iggulden explains he traveled to rural Mongolia during his research.

Plot summary

The narrative follows the early life of Temujin, the second son of Yesughi, the Khan of the Mongol 'Wolf' tribe. Aged eleven, Temujin is taken by his father to spend a year at the Olkhunut tribe, and to find him a future bride. Temujin's father is attacked by Tartar assassins on his return from the journey. Temujin quickly returns to the Wolves, but his father soon dies from his injuries. Yesughi's first bondsman, Eeluk assumes control of the tribe. Fearing the sons of the former Khan may contest his leadership when they reach adulthood, Eeluk banishes Temujin's family from the tribe, leaving them to fend for themselves on the harsh Steppes.

The expectation was that Temujin's family would perish in the unforgiving winter, but Temujin along with his mother Hoelun, his four brothers Bekhter, Khasar, Khajiun, Temulge, and his baby sister Temulun, survived against in the odds, albeit in poverty. In an argument over food, Temujin kills his older brother Behkter, much to his mother's anguish.

After a few years of trading with other wandering families, the family establish a small home. But the Wolf tribe return to the area, and advanced riders, sent by Eeluk to ensure the family had perished, capture Temujin. He is taken back to the tribe where he is tortured, and kept in a pit, in preparation for a ritual murder. He is freed by Arslan and Jelme, father and son wanderers who joined the Wolves after looking for Yesughi, whom Arslan owed a debt. They join Temujin and his family, and begin a new tribe, accepting other wandering families into their protection. Temujin assumes the role of Khan.

Temujin returns to the Olkhunut to claim his wife Borte. Shortly after, Borte is captured by a Tartar raiding party. Temujin and his brothers chase down the captors and murder them, recovering Borte. The small army retailiates with repeated raids on Tartar camps.The Tartars respond by sending armies to crush the new menace. It is then that a Chin emissary approaches Temujin with an offer from Toghrul, Khan of the Kerait. Temujin joins his small fledgling tribe with Toghrul's, and leads a joint army to advance on the Tartars. It is in the following battle that Temujin begins to show outstanding tactical abilities, as the Mongols ease to victory. Upon interrogating a Tartar prisoner, Temujin learns that the leader of the Olkhunut conspired with the Chin, to lead the Tartar assassins to his father. He also learns that a massive Tartar army is advancing into Mongol lands.

Temujin returns to the Kerait, then travels to the Olkhunut tribe, where he murders the Khan in his ger and assumes leadership of the tribe, and takes them back to join the Kerait. The Mongol alliance prepares for battle, when they are joined by the Wolves. Temujin and Eeluk agree to settle their feud upon victory over the Tartars. Under Temujin's faultless leadership and strategy, the Tartar army is crushed. As the battle ends, Temujin and Eeluk fight, with Temujin emerging victorious. He claims leadership of the Wolves and takes the warriors back to the Kerait.

Fearing an inevitable challenge to his leadership, Toghrul sends assassins to Temujin's ger. The attempt is unsuccessful, and Toghrul is banished out of the unified tribe. Temujin proclaims himself Khan of all Mongol tribes, and bestows the name "Genghis" upon himself.

Historical accuracy

The source material for the book is The Secret History of the Mongols. As with the Emperor series before it, Iggulden sometimes strays from historical sources for the purpose of storytelling. Some of the differences are described in an author's note at the end of the book.

In addition to differences to some names of characters and tribes, some major inaccuracies include: Borte is captured by the Tartars rather than the Merkit tribe, and she is only in captive for a few days, rather than several months; Temujin's childhood enslavement by the Ta'yichiut, also lasting several months, is not described however some elements of his escape (being liberated by a sympathetic member of the capturing tribe, but then returning to their home to hide) is incorporated into the fictional account of his capture by the 'Wolves'; Temujin's childhood friend, blood-brother and major rival Jamuka is excluded from the story; the relationship between Temujin and Toghrul is simplified: it is not mentioned that he and Yesughi were "blood brother" and the omission of the influence Toghrul's son Senggum had on their relationship; and the influence of the Chin emissary is entirely fictional.

Publication details

*2007, UK, HarperCollins (ISBN 0007201745), Pub date 2 January 2007, hardback (First edition)


* [http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2014114,00.html "The Guardian", February 17 2007]
* [http://www.hindu.com/lr/2007/05/06/stories/2007050600240400.htm "The Hindu", May 6 2007]


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