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Against Walls

Amgalant One

by Bryn Hammond

Against Walls - Bryn Hammond - Amgalant
Part of the Amgalant series:
Editions:Paperback - Second Edition: $ 25.00
ISBN: 1980893969
Pages: 570
Kindle - Second Edition: $ 6.99
Pages: 572
ePub - Second Edition: $ 6.99
ISBN: 9781466182523
Pages: 570

In the steppes of High Asia, the year 1166…

‘What is a Mongol? – As free as the geese in the air, as in unison. The flights of the geese promise us we don’t give up independence, to unite.’

The hundred tribes of the Mongols have come together with one aim: to push back against the walls that have crept onto the steppe – farther than China has ever extended its walls before. Walls are repugnant to a nomad. But can people on horses push them down, even with a united effort?

This story begins when nobody has heard of Mongols – not even most Chinese, who think the vast Northern Waste at its weakest and are right. A spectacular history starts obscurely…

Against Walls is the first in a trilogy that gives voice to the Mongols in their explosive encounter with the great world under Tchingis Khan. Both epic and intimate, Amgalant sees the world through Mongol eyes. It’s different from the world you know.

'Total and instant immersion... thoroughly compelling and powerful.' - Asian Review of Books

Publisher: Independently Published
Pairings: M-F, M-M
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Varies During Story
Protagonist 2 Age: Varies During Story
Tropes: Antihero, Criminals & Outlaws, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Friends to Lovers, Hero and the Great Quest, Slow Burning Love
Word Count: 213740
Setting: Mongolia
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

He had to try not to feel sorry for himself. Just because you have a mad spot, like a spot of rust or mildew that can only grow, just because you wonder how much time you have, doesn’t mean you can be covetous, that you can snatch. And that included Temujin.

He hadn’t meant to be in love with Temujin. It was a bad idea, and he was pretty short with himself on the matter. For a few months.

Because he didn’t gouge out his horses’ testicles, people alleged to him, “It’s crueller to let him keep them on. Won’t get a chance to use them.”

“Ask the horse,” Jamuqa answered, every time.

“He lives in hope?”

“Whether or not... he lives.”

Jamuqa found he lived, in a way he hadn’t known about before, and he ceased to fight his love, futile or not.


Anyhow, animals aren’t without ways and means; if they have to hump logs, that’s what they do. They do a lot else, too. See, what an animal enjoys, can’t be wrong. That’s a twist of the brain that can never make sense to an animal.

The wild sheep, they’re pragmatic. For eleven months of the year the ewes are off the boil; for eleven months of the year, argali rams in the mountains keep the fires stoked amongst themselves. Down on the steppe, she-hedgehogs nuzzle each other’s pink bits and squeak and shake, a sight notorious enough that if you wish to talk about such behaviour, you can say do the hedgehog. It’s thought harmless, whereas you don’t say do the argali, because what argali do is a crime.

Reviews:Dmitry Kosyrev on Asian Review of Books wrote:

Expect no easy ride. Author Bryn Hammond evidently thinks that the best way to teach you swimming is to throw you into the deep end. But if you don’t drown instantly, and if you brace yourself through the first 10-20 pages of Against Walls, there is a good chance that you’ll stay in the magic waters of her world until the end of the story.

It doesn’t matter that you are reading a book about Chinggis Khan, or call him Genghis Khan, the greatest conqueror of in the history of the world You’ll forget all about it after these 20 pages, because there is no conqueror as yet and won’t be for quite a while; only his world is all around you, and that world is all that matters. There are several ways of luring a reader into an unknown universe of distant places and distant times. The simple way is to summon somebody from, say, the Europe of the times and let the reader marvel at all the exotica through that traveler’s eyes. That makes easy reading, but seldom shakes one to the core. Total and instant immersion is, on the other hand, a cruel, risky, but rewarding way to do it: a lot of readers will scuttle away, but those who remain will be all the author’s.

Try this:

Bol-Gunutei and Bel-Gunutei, you gossip about your mother and speculate where she goes, what she does, who fathered these three children? Uncanny children they are and you are due an explanation. I saw him indistinctly, in a yellow glare as of the sun. He entered by the smoke hole when the moon was high, by the gap at the top of the door if the stars to the south cast a light. In a man’s shape he was wont to stroke me over my womb, where his glow sank into me. When he had done what he came for he fled up any beam he found, low on his belly like a fiery hound.

I happen to know this world: I’ve been to Mongolia three times and, recently, in Russia’s Altai, which is about the same. I know that Bryn Hammond did a miracle of transporting the reader there, but I’ve no idea how she did it (that’s a real compliment from one writer to another). That’s a wolf’s world, whatever it means, a world of strange talk in strange places; it’s in fact another planet.

There is that problem of other worlds—if you create them from scratch and call them fiction, they still bear a lot of resemblance to what we see around us. But if you do a real historical novel, if you just try to portray meticulously what really was a mere 800 years ago, you’ll effect the reader’s total disengagement from reality. And that’s what’s good and terrible with Against Walls, namely a total and terrifying realism. You feel it’s the real thing, but you are not ready for it.

But then, why go back in time, when you might try Africa or even the same Mongolia of today, and experience that same feeling of total unreality of these places?

The difference is Hammond’s plot which evolves in a mysteriously exciting way. Hammond has a style of her own which is hard to describe: not light, not sweet at all, but thoroughly compelling and powerful. On the author’s website , she says the the book should be treated as “an heir to medieval romance”. The website, by the way, makes quite a reading in itself, but it’s not a romance. The book is.

Amgalant closely follows The Secret History of the Mongols, which is the only Mongol primary source for the life of Tchingis (Chinggis, Genghis) Khan, written by people who knew him shortly after his death.

About the Author

I live in a coastal town in Australia and write, mostly, historical fiction about Mongols. My main series, Amgalant, is of epic size and I like to do offshoots of short stories or short novels, either straight historical or historical fantasy. One day I'll work my way back to my first love, science fiction. But for me, the past gives a similar scope for imagining other worlds and other beings, who lived differently than us, who can expand our conception of the human.

I am queer and always include queer content in my fiction. Amgalant slashes Temujin/Jamuqa: the future Tchingis Khan with his blood brother and political rival. Amgalant isn't a romance -- there's too much else going on for that!; still, the love story is a big sloppy celebration of the centrality of love in my source material.