Khan: Empire of Silver (Khan Dynasty Series #4)

Khan: Empire of Silver (Khan Dynasty Series #4)

by Conn Iggulden

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385344258
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/22/2011
Series: Khan Dynasty Series , #4
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 90,585
Product dimensions: 7.92(w) x 5.24(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Conn Iggulden is the author of three previous novels about Genghis Khan—Genghis: Birth of an Empire; Genghis: Lords of the Bow; and Genghis: Bones of the Hills—as well as the Emperor novels, which chronicle the life of Julius Caesar. He is also the co-author of the #1 bestseller The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Dangerous Book of Heroes. He lives with his wife and children in Hertfordshire, England.


From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

ONE

The air swirled with marble dust that glittered as it caught the evening sun. Ogedai's heart was full as he guided his horse down the main thoroughfare, taking in every sight and sound around him. There was a sense of urgency in the cacophony of hammer blows and shouted orders. The Mongol tumans had gathered outside the city. His generals, his people, had been summoned there to see what two years of labor had created: a city in a wilderness, with the Orkhon River tamed and bent to his will.

Ogedai reined in for a moment to watch a group of workmen unload a cart. Nervous under his gaze, the laborers used ropes, pulleys, and sheer numbers to maneuver blocks of white marble onto low sledges that could be dragged into the workshops. Each milky block was subtly veined in a light blue that pleased Ogedai. He owned the quarry that had birthed the stones, hundreds of miles to the east, just one of a thousand purchases he had made in the last years.

There was no doubt he had been extravagant, spending gold and silver as if it had no value. He smiled at the thought, wondering what his father would have made of the white city rising in the wilderness. Genghis had despised the anthills of humanity, but these were not the ancient stones and teeming streets of an enemy. This was new and it belonged to the nation.

There had never been a treasury like the one he had inherited, amassed from the wealth of China and Khwarezm, yet never spent by its khan. With the tribute from Yenking alone, Ogedai could have sheathed every new home in white marble or even jade if he had wanted. He had built a monument to his father on the plains, as well as a place where he himself could be khan. He had built a palace with a tower that rose above the city like a white sword, so that all men could see the nation had come far from simple gers and herds.

For his gold, a million men had come to work. They had crossed plains and deserts with just a few animals and tools, coming from as far off as Chin lands or the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Kabul. Masons and carpenters from Koryo had made the journey, called to the west by rumors of a new city being built on a river of coins. Bulgars brought stocks of rare clays, charcoal, and hardwood in great caravans from their forests. The city filled with traders, builders, potters, foodsellers, thieves, and scoundrels. Farmers scenting a profit brought their carts for days of travel, all for the strings of metal coins. Ogedai gave them gold and silver from the earth, melted and shaped. In return they gave him a city, and he did not find it a bad bargain. For the present, they were the colorful crowds of his city, speaking a hundred tongues and cooking a thousand different foods and spices. Some of them would be allowed to stay, but he was not building it for them.

Ogedai saw green-handed dyers flatten themselves against the walls, their red turbans dipping in respect. His Guards cleared the way ahead, so the son of Genghis could ride almost in a dream. He had made this place from the camp of gers his father had known. He had made it real, in stone.

It still amazed him. He had not paid for women to travel with his workers, but they had come with their husbands and fathers. He had wondered for a time how he would establish the businesses every city needed to thrive, but traders had approached his chancellor, offering horses or more silver to lease new properties. The city was more than a simple collection of houses. Already it had a vitality of its own, far beyond his control.

Yet not completely. A quirk in the plans had created an area of small alleyways in the south of his city. Criminal gangs had begun to flourish there until Ogedai heard. He had ordered eight hundred buildings torn down, the whole area redesigned and rebuilt. His own Guard had supervised the hangings.

The street fell quiet as he passed, the laborers and their masters bowing their heads as they saw the man who held the power of life and death and gold over all of them. Ogedai took a deep breath of the dusty air, enjoying the taste of it on his tongue and the thought that he was literally breathing in his creation. Ahead, he could see the towers of his palace, crowned in a dome of gold beaten thinner than the paper of his scribes. It raised his spirits to see it, like sunlight trapped and held in his city.

The street widened as it grew before him, its stone gutters polished. That section had been finished months before and the bustling crowds of laborers fell behind. As Ogedai trotted on, he could not help glancing at the boundary walls that had so confused his Chin architects and laborers. Even from the low vantage point of a saddle, there were moments when he could see over them to the green plains beyond. The walls of Yenking had not saved that city from fire or siege, he knew. His walls were the warriors of the khan, the tribes who had brought a Chin emperor to his knees and razed a shah's cities.

Already, Ogedai loved his creation, from the vast expanse of the central training ground, to the red-tiled roofs, the paved gutters, the temples and churches and mosques and markets and homes by the thousand, most still empty and waiting for life. Scraps of blue cloth fluttered in the plains wind on every corner, a tribute to the sky father above them all. In the south, green foothills and mountains stretched far away and the air was warm with dust as Ogedai rejoiced in Karakorum.

The twilight was deepening into a soft gloom as Ogedai handed his reins to a servant and strode up the steps to his palace. Before he entered, he looked back once more at the city straining to be born. He could smell fresh-turned earth and, over it, the fried food of the workmen on the evening air. He had not planned the herds of livestock in corrals beyond the walls, or the squawking chickens sold on every corner. He thought of the wool market that had sprung up by the western gate. He should not have expected trade to halt simply because the city was unfinished. He had chosen a spot on an ancient traders' road to give it life--and life had begun pouring in while whole streets, whole districts, were still piles of lumber, tile, and stone.

As he looked into the setting sun, he smiled at the cooking fires on the plains surrounding the city. His people waited there, for him. His armies would be fed on rich mutton, dripping fat from the summer grass. It reminded him of his own hunger, and he moistened his lips as he passed through a stone gate the equal of anything in a Chin city.

In the echoing hall beyond, he paused for a moment at his most extravagant gesture. A tree of solid silver stretched gracefully up to the arched ceiling, where the center point was open to the sky like the ger of any herdsman. It had taken the silversmiths of Samarkand almost a year to cast and polish, but it served his purpose. Whoever entered his palace would see it and be staggered at the wealth it represented. Some would see an emblem for the silver people, the Mongol tribes who had become a nation. Those with more wisdom would see that the Mongols cared so little for silver that they used it as a casting metal.

Ogedai let his hand slide down the bole of the tree, feeling the metal chill his fingers. The spreading branches reached out in a parody of life, gleaming like a white birch in moonlight. Ogedai nodded to himself. He stretched his back as lamps were lit by slaves and servants all around him, throwing black shadows and making the evening seem suddenly darker outside.

He heard hurrying footsteps and saw his manservant, Baras'aghur, approaching. Ogedai winced at the man's keen expression and the bundle of papers under his arm.

"After I have eaten, Baras. It has been a long day."

"Very well, my lord, but you have a visitor: your uncle. Shall I tell him to wait on your pleasure?"

Ogedai paused in the act of unbuckling his sword belt. All three of his uncles had come to the plains around Karakorum at his order, gathering their tumans in great camps. He had forbidden them all from entering the city, and he wondered who would have disobeyed him. He suspected it would be Khasar, who regarded orders and laws as tools for other men rather than himself.

"Who is it, Baras?" Ogedai asked quietly.

"Lord Temuge, master. I have sent servants to tend him, but he has been waiting now for a long time."

Baras'aghur made a gesture to indicate a sweep of the sun in the sky, and Ogedai pursed his lips in irritation. His father's brother would be well aware of the nuances of hospitality. Simply by arriving when Ogedai was not there to greet him, he had created an obligation. Ogedai assumed it was deliberate. A man like Temuge was too subtle not to grasp the slightest advantage. Yet the order had gone out for the generals and princes to remain on the plains.

Ogedai sighed. For two years, he had readied Karakorum to be the jewel in an empire. His had been a splendid isolation and he had maneuvered to keep it so, his enemies and friends always off balance. He had known it could not last forever. He steeled himself as he walked after Baras'aghur to the first and most sumptuous of his audience rooms.

"Have wine brought to me immediately, Baras. And food--something simple, such as the warriors are eating on the plain."

"Your will, my lord," his servant said without listening, his thoughts on the meeting to come.

The footsteps of the two men were loud in the silent halls, clicking and echoing back to them. Ogedai did not glance at the painted scenes that usually gave him so much pleasure. He and Baras'aghur walked under the best work of Islamic artists, and it was only toward the end that Ogedai looked up at a blaze of color, smiling to himself at the image of Genghis leading a charge at the Badger's Mouth pass. The artist had asked a fortune for a year's work, but Ogedai had doubled his price when he saw it. His father still lived on those walls, as well as in his memory. There was no art of painting in the tribes he knew, and such things could still make him gasp and stand in awe. With Temuge waiting, however, Ogedai barely nodded to his father's image before sweeping into the room.

The years had not been kind to his father's brother. Temuge had once been as fat as a feasting calf, but then lost the weight rapidly, so that his throat sagged into flaps of skin and he looked far older than his years. Ogedai looked at his uncle coldly as he rose from a silk-covered chair to greet him. It was an effort to be courteous to a man who represented the end of his time apart. He had no illusions. The nation waited impatiently for him and Temuge was just the first to breach his defenses.

"You are looking well, Ogedai," Temuge said.

He came forward as if he might embrace his nephew, and Ogedai struggled with a spasm of irritation. He turned away to Baras, letting his uncle drop his arms unseen.

"Wine and food, Baras. Will you stand there, staring like a sheep?"

"My lord," Baras'aghur replied, bowing immediately. "I will have a scribe sent to you to record the meeting."

He left at a run and both men could hear the slave's sandals clattering into the distance.

Temuge frowned delicately. "This is not a formal visit, Ogedai, for scribes and records."

"You are here as my uncle then? Not because the tribes have selected you to approach me? Not because my scholar uncle is the one man whom all the factions trust enough to speak to me?"

Temuge flushed at the tone and the accuracy of the remarks. He had to assume Ogedai had as many spies in the great camps as he had himself. That was one thing the nation had learned from the Chin. He tried to judge his nephew's mood, but it was no easy task. Ogedai had not even offered him salt tea. Temuge swallowed drily as he tried to interpret the level of censure and irritation in the younger man.

"You know the armies talk of nothing else, Ogedai." Temuge took a deep breath to steady his nerves. Under Ogedai's pale yellow eyes, he could not shake the idea that he was reporting to some echo of Genghis. His nephew was softer in body than the great khan, but there was a coldness in him that unnerved Temuge. Sweat broke out on his forehead.

"For two years, you have ignored your father's empire--" Temuge began.

"Do you think that is what I have done?" Ogedai interrupted.

Temuge stared at him. "What else am I to think? You left the families and tumans in the field, then built a city while they herded sheep. For two years, Ogedai!" He lowered his voice almost to a whisper. "There are some who say your mind has broken with grief for your father."

Ogedai smiled bitterly to himself. Even the mention of his father was like tearing the scab off a wound. He knew every one of the rumors. He had started some of them himself, to keep his enemies jumping at shadows. Yet he was the chosen heir of Genghis, the first khan of the nation. The warriors had almost deified his father, and Ogedai was certain he had nothing to fear from mere gossip in the camps. His relatives were a different matter.

The door swung open to reveal Baras'aghur and a dozen Chin servants. In moments, they had surrounded the two men, placing bronze cups and food on a crisp white cloth before them. Ogedai gestured for his uncle to sit cross-legged on the tiled floor, watching with interest as the older man's knees creaked and made him wince. Baras'aghur sent the servants away and then served tea to Temuge, who accepted the bowl in relief with his right hand, sipping as formally as he would have in any ger of the plains. Ogedai watched eagerly as red wine gurgled into his own cup. He emptied it quickly and held it out before Baras'aghur could move away.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Khan: Empire of Silver 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 102 reviews.
careburpee on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Empire of Silver is book four of Conn Iggulden¿s outstanding series about the founder of the Mongul Empire, Genghis Khan, and his sons and grandsons. While it is not absolutely necessary to read the other books in order to read this one, I would highly recommend it, and if you would like to read the others you really do want to read them in order.Similar to the previous novel, this one travels to the far reaches of the empire, from China to Hungary to Afghanistan, which adds a good deal of cultural interest as you begin to see some of the Mongul culture of the steppes fade and the learning and refinement of the vanquished peoples sink into the conquering warriors. In the course of this novel the last of Genghis¿ brothers and sons die and the khanate passes into the hands of his grandson, with the continued guidance of Genghis¿ venerable general Tsubodai. As usual for all these novels, women¿s roles are significant-an element of the book supported as factual by the extensive author¿s note-making what might be a rather testosterone laden read very engaging for the ladies as well. It is often difficult to find historical fiction written in a way that appeals to both men and women. With his combination of Mongul warriors and strong female characters it struck me that this would be the perfect audio for a couple on a road trip together (although I can not speak for the audio, as I have read all four in print).The only element that kept this from being a five star read for me was that there was not a lot of suspense to it. There were a couple of events towards the end that were unexpected (one, I will admit, was exceedingly so!), but overall, things flowed along a predictable course. Exciting and fast paced, but predictable.This is a fantastic series about a seldom touched topic, and I highly recommend it for all readers, both male and female, who want to expand their knowledge of the Middle Ages beyond the borders of Europe (this novel takes place in the early thirteenth century). The clash of the well-known battle tactics of Knights Templar against those of the Golden Horde makes for some pretty exciting reading. The fifth and final novel in the series, Conqueror, was released in the United States in December of 2011. It focuses primarily on Kublai Khan and the eastern half of the Mongul Empire, but also wraps up the story of his cousins and the western half, or Golden Horde. Stay tuned, as I will certainly be reviewing that one in the near future.
caseylondon on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Khan: Empire of Silver is the fourth of Conn Iggulden's series about Genghis Khan's Mongol empire - this time without Genghis to anchor the story. Court intrigue among the remaining brothers (and grandsons), battles (he writes these so very well), family relations (or lack there of), trying to hold an empire together that at times seemed to be glued together only by the blood and wrath of Genghis proves difficult for his heirs as their thoughts are scattered by dreams of glory. Like all of Iggulden's previous books it has fascinating history to draw in the reader but this particular time I personally found it difficult to keep up with the characters. There were so many that it was often hard to remember who was who. Nonetheless, the history was very informative and I learned so much (I never knew the Mongols had fought the Templars, nor about the Battle with King Bela of Hungary.) But I was most intrigued by the story of a younger brother's sacrifice to heal his elder brother (a shaman¿s idea.) A worthy read for a history buff or anyone interested in the Mongols, historical battles or family sagas.
anna_in_pdx on LibraryThing 25 days ago
My partner loves this whole series and I have been reading it with him, and around the time I ordered this we were reading the one right before it, and I was getting increasingly annoyed with that one. The characters are just so incredibly awful. Chris stopped me one day and said "OK, you don't have to read this to me any more. I will read it on my own." Then this book came in the mail. Chris was very excited because it has not even been published yet so I let him read it first. Also, I was not really overjoyed that I would have to review it.This weekend I read it and was actually pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed it! First, Genghis was gone. (Thank God. He was such a completely evil character and I was getting quite tired of reading about his amazing leadership etc. It's not that Iggulden makes him out to be better than he was - he really doesn't - but that he is so utterly horrible and has absolutely no good qualities (unless you think of military prowess as a good quality, which I don't).There was a lot of infighting among his sons and other relatives that was quite interesting, and one of the sons, while still a horrible murderous person, was also quite interesting in his ability to hold his kingdom together while being very ill and knowing he'd probably die soon. There was also a very strong female character who was interesting to read about. Even the conquests which I usually just get so tired of, they are always slaughtering everything in their path (literally, the author really loves the verb "slaughter" probably because it really is very apt), were more interesting as they were getting into Europe and their enemy was more defined and some new minor characters were introduced.I recommend this book, especially if you read the others and enjoyed them. It's pretty different, but it continues the story of the Mongol sweep across Asia and parts of Europe.
stevetempo on LibraryThing 25 days ago
A very enjoyable and insightful book. This is the kind reading I extremely enjoy. The book presents a great story while giving a wonderful lesson of an important if not very profound period of history. Conn Iggulden treats the reader to a story with not only an engaging plot with great pacing but keeps the history very accurate and provides insightful historical speculation. The novel takes place post Genghis Khan during a turbulent period of Mongol history where political maneuvering to secure and maintain power of the Mongol Empire is pursued and a military campaign of the most profound proportions almost succeeds in changing all history as we know it. Mr. Iggulden includes a map, a list of characters and excellent historical notes to enhance the readers enjoyment. I'm putting Mr. Iggulden's other historical novels/series on my wish list. A very enjoyable read that I recommend highly especially for history and military buffs.
klaidlaw on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I received this book through the Early Reviews program in December, but it took me some time to get to it. The book is part of a series on the Mongol Empire. This particular book takes place as the second generation battles for power and the khanate. Genghis is dead and his sons are vying for power. Many people recognize the name of Genghis, but far fewer will recognize the name of his successor, Ogedai. This historical novel is well researched and well written. It provides an easy insight to culture of the Mongols and shows how they were able to defeat the major armies of Europe at the time. The book is fairly fast moving, but there are a few places I felt it dragged when the author seemed to spend too much time demonstrating his knowledge of the Mongol Empire. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the Mongols better and wants to see them from a perspective other than European historians who thought of them as barbaric heathens.
DirtPriest on LibraryThing 25 days ago
In all fairness, I didn't read the entire book, but since this is for the early reviewers program I have to post something. I was curious to check this series of books out and was very impressed with the early few chapters, but as I'd like to read the rest of the Genghis Khan books in their proper order I had to make myself stop, which wasn't easy. That is about the best thing you can say about a book. I am eagerly anticipating grousing up copies of the earlier and future books in this series.
readafew on LibraryThing 25 days ago
While Khan: Empire of Silver is the 4th book in the Conqueror series, reading the previous 4 books is not necessary. I fully enjoyed reading this book even with only minor knowledge of Genghis Khan and the mongol expansion. This story opens about 2 years after the death of Genghis, about a month before his son Ogedei claimed his position as Khan. The book follows Ogedei and his generals until a few months after his death. Lots of detail and I think it did a good job capturing the feel of the times. We spend a lot of time out on campaign with the Golden Horde. The Mongol armies were very ruthless, slaughtering whole villages and leaving cites little more than burning rubble. They were a wave that was only stopped by the death of one man, which saved much of Europe.Overall, I think this was a very interesting read and it did a great job of bringing the past to life. I will quite likely read the previous books and certainly want to read the next one when it comes out.
Winnemucca on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Khan, Empire of Silver is a well-written historical novel. Conn Iggulden writes with the knowledge of an historian and the objectivity of a journalist. He neither extols nor demeans the conquering warriors. Skills as a novelist allow him to vividly portray events as they unfold.The novel focuses on the conquests of Genhis Khan¿s third son Ogodie. Also, quests for power lead to alliances and conflicts between the descendents of the khans. Sorkhaqtani, Ogodie¿s sister-in-law, is a strong force whose actions influence the course of events in a society dominated by conquests and warfare.
ulfhjorr on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I have greatly enjoyed the first three entries in this series, so I looked forward with much anticipation to reading this book. When I read it, however, I had a rather mixed reaction.Iggulden certainly delivers on the surface of this book. The action is tight and fast, and the depth of those characters he intends to focus on is well-developed. However, with the first three books focused so clearly on Genghis, this entry lacks that central focus, and at times it seemed like all the characters are walking around asking, "What would Genghis do?"
Anonymous 9 months ago
Outstanding could not put the series down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good series. I find out a lot of good history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The incredible sags continues...
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
Incredibly barbaric, it is a story worth reading. This entire series has captured the imagination and I can't wait to read the Conqueror.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lit-in-the-last-frontier More than 1 year ago
Empire of Silver is book four of Conn Iggulden’s outstanding series about the founder of the Mongul Empire, Genghis Khan, and his sons and grandsons. While it is not absolutely necessary to read the other books in order to read this one, I would highly recommend it, and if you would like to read the others you really do want to read them in order. Similar to the previous novel, this one travels to the far reaches of the empire, from China to Hungary to Afghanistan, which adds a good deal of cultural interest as you begin to see some of the Mongul culture of the steppes fade and the learning and refinement of the vanquished peoples sink into the conquering warriors. In the course of this novel the last of Genghis’ brothers and sons die and the khanate passes into the hands of his grandson, with the continued guidance of Genghis’ venerable general Tsubodai. As usual for all these novels, women’s roles are significant-an element of the book supported as factual by the extensive author’s note-making what might be a rather testosterone laden read very engaging for the ladies as well. It is often difficult to find historical fiction written in a way that appeals to both men and women. With his combination of Mongul warriors and strong female characters it struck me that this would be the perfect audio for a couple on a road trip together (although I can not speak for the audio, as I have read all four in print). The only element that kept this from being a five star read for me was that there was not a lot of suspense to it. There were a couple of events towards the end that were unexpected (one, I will admit, was exceedingly so!), but overall, things flowed along a predictable course. Exciting and fast paced, but predictable. This is a fantastic series about a seldom touched topic, and I highly recommend it for all readers, both male and female, who want to expand their knowledge of the Middle Ages beyond the borders of Europe (this novel takes place in the early thirteenth century). The clash of the well-known battle tactics of Knights Templar against those of the Golden Horde makes for some pretty exciting reading. The fifth and final novel in the series, [b]Conqueror[/b], was released in the United States in December of 2011. It focuses primarily on Kublai Khan and the eastern half of the Mongul Empire, but also wraps up the story of his cousins and the western half, or Golden Horde. Stay tuned, as I will certainly be reviewing that one in the near future.
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DanielWorthy More than 1 year ago
=The Empire of Silver picks up several years after the death of the nation-builder Genghis Khan. Khan's son Ogedei is has been named his successor, but not to the liking of many, including his brother Chagatai. This creates some early palace intrigue and action, all in all this book deserves a five star rating for Igguldens use of words to make it seem like your really there with Ogedai and the rest of them