Imaginary Kings

Amgalant Two

by Bryn Hammond

Imaginary Kings - Bryn Hammond - Amgalant
Part of the Amgalant series:
Editions:Paperback - Second Edition: $ 26.00
ISBN: 1980900604
Pages: 622
Kindle - Second Edition: $ 8.99
ISBN: B007YMK30Y
Pages: 624
ePub - Second Edition: $ 8.99
ISBN: 9781476192963
Pages: 620

In the steppes of High Asia, the year 1188…

‘Jamuqa rode his trophy mare, off-white, black-pointed, on a Tartar seat, high arches of ornamental silver fore and aft. He wore a winterfur of snow leopard, near white with black whorls. The effect was kingly and fantastic: he might be Irle Khan himself, the king of ghosts, in his eery splendour.’

Aged twenty, Temujin has been named Tchingis, khan over the Mongols. But only a third of his people accept a kingship based on dreams and omens. His own sworn brother Jamuqa challenges his title, and comes in the guise of a mock king against him.

The steppe has been without a great khan for three hundred years – fragmented in the face of giant China. Are dreams and omens enough to unify its peoples? What makes a true king?

Imaginary Kings is the second 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.

‘Amgalant brings to life a complex, remote society with amazing immediacy’

Published:
Publisher: Independently Published
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: M-F, M-M, M-M-F
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Varies During Story
Protagonist 2 Age: Varies During Story
Tropes: Antihero, Enemies to Lovers, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Forbidden Love, Friends to Lovers, Hero and the Great Quest, Mind Games, Moral Failure, Second Chances, Villain to Hero
Word Count: 246,630
Setting: Mongolia
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Excerpt:

They walked between dim white blobs of gers. Neither was particularly drunk. Through a felt wall Temujin heard an intimate murmur, half-familiar to him: Bo’orchu was with his Aya.

On and out of earshot of the ger he paused, and his head swivelled back. “That I don’t have.”

His friend stood taciturn.

“You do not blame me any more?”

“No,” he answered, quick and definite.

“You have left those feelings in the past.”

Slow, this time, and soft, but definite. “No.”

“I was deeply ignorant in those days. I had no idea what I gave up for both of us.”

“Spilt milk, Temujin. We were both right and we were both wrong. That’s what I think. To have your companionship is more than I’ve seen ahead in the shoulderblades. I’m happy. Not that you aren’t a knockout at your peak nowadays, if I can just get that off my chest. Chin up, anda mine.”

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He heaved a great sigh. “Kiss me as you kiss your uncle, then.”

“Maybe the once, while I’m in practice, but don’t expect too much of that.”

“Or the once after our hearts,” he pursued with a change of air. “For a glimpse of what I’ve missed. I am humble and pilfer a kiss. Not like our once before.”

“Ah.” He half-saw and felt Jamuqa lift to a poise on his toes. “Here’s a proof you trust me. Or can’t I trust you?”

“We have both been to a hard school and learnt how to go without, and have earnt a moment to celebrate that God has sent you to me again.”

This time Jamuqa said, “Amen.”

First, he did a twice-about with eye and ear, in the way of a cautious sentry. They were only two people in coats in the dark and such encounters were given wide berth. Temujin waited for him. When he was ready he bent his head to him and Jamuqa came up higher on his toes.

The to-and-fro was like talking, in the idiom to themselves they invented to talk in at twelve: Jamuqa talked to him with a tongue he understood and he talked to Jamuqa with his. It began in to-and-fro, but he glimpsed he might lose his sense of who was who. That was his memory – at their ultimate moments – after they drove and towed each other to whatever possible heights of excitement. In the rare air of that altitude he forgot he was he. One way or another that was the aim of life. Shamans flew outside the self in ecstasy. Other people found love, or causes.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Joseph Spuckler on Mongols, China and the Silk Road wrote:

(review of the First Edition)
Amgalant Two: Tribal Brawls is the continuation of the Amgalant series. Hammond studied medieval history and literature while in college. She describes herself as a writer-in-a-garret and someone who does not pay much attention to the practical side of life. She currently lives in Australia.

Tribal Brawls picks up where The Old Ideal leaves off. There is no need to hide the main focus of the book; it is the rise of Genghis Khan. Much has been written on the ruler of the Mongols, and much of what has been written from Roman and conquered peoples’ perspective. Some common knowledge of Genghis Khan is more myth and legend than fact. The West tends to write history from its perspective rather neutral ground. Even the history of something as recent as the American Revolutionary War is not without controversies. It is held as a nearly holy event in American history, while in Britain, it is considered a minor civil war — a minor bump in their history. Perspective determines a person’s view.

What Hammond does differently than most, and yes, I do know her book is historical fiction and not history, is use the Mongol text The Secret History of the Mongols. This text is thought to have been a copy written in the 14th century. The original was written some time after Genghis Khan’s death. The text remained unknown in the West until the early twentieth century. It is the most detailed account of Mongol history we have. There is, no doubt, some editing of Genghis Khan’s life after his death, but it is actual Mongol history written by the Mongols.

Hammond uses The Secret History as her outline and creates and epic series on the life of Genghis Khan. This creates the background history for the novel, and with it comes hundreds of pages of story. Of course, anyone can open up Wikipedia and get the CliffsNotes version, but you would be missing a great deal. Perhaps most important in understanding another people, is understanding their culture. This is where Hammond takes Tribal Brawls above and beyond most histories and beyond any history of the Mongols I have encountered. History tends to tell the “what”. Culture tells the how and why. Here we have the politics, the rivalries, the explanations of the conquerors, the interaction of the people, the beliefs of the people, and what it meant to be a Mongol. History provides a skeleton and culture provides the muscle, organs, and skin.

Perhaps the other thing missing from the simple history most people have experienced, is Hammond’s passion for the subject. She does not write just to write, she has a calling. A quick look at her Goodreads profile or her Twitter feed will let you how just how much time she spends reading and studying the Mongol empire and the Steppes. This passions shows in her work with her attention to detail and the amount of details included in her writing.

As the story of Genghis Khan continues in the Amgalant series the reader can expect an outstanding story that holds to history as much as possible. In the first book, I did have to take notes as I read. The culture is different, the peoples names are unfamiliar, and it does take place at a time which is unfamiliar to most. Here too careful reading is necessary and possibly a few notes to keep things straight. Again, it is not a problem with the writing, it is problem of familiarity. The writing is clear and detail orientated. As someone with a history degree I usually don’t promote historical fiction as a way to learn history. They may be an enjoyable distraction for historians, but nothing to take too seriously …much like the tagline “based on a true story.” The Amgalant series is different. There is plenty to learn from reading this series. Extremely well done.


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.


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