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Until the Sun Falls

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In the thirteenth century the Mongol hordes swept out of Mongolia to over-run half the world. This novel follows Psin, a Mongol general, through the military campaigns in Russia and Europe, among his own family and in his own heart.


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In the thirteenth century the Mongol hordes swept out of Mongolia to over-run half the world. This novel follows Psin, a Mongol general, through the military campaigns in Russia and Europe, among his own family and in his own heart.

30 review for Until the Sun Falls

  1. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    The Mongol armies lead by the sons and grandsons of Genghis Khan (Temujin) sweep across Russia and into Europe. A fictional novel of the dark days of history brought to life through the family of general Psin Khan. image: Instructions on conquering the world from the Kha-Khan Ogodai sat up again. “You sit in the wrong place to see how funny the world is. Yes, I know. Psin Khan, we instruct you to ride with Sabotai to the camp of our nephew Batu and there to serve in the campaign against—” He waved The Mongol armies lead by the sons and grandsons of Genghis Khan (Temujin) sweep across Russia and into Europe. A fictional novel of the dark days of history brought to life through the family of general Psin Khan. image: Instructions on conquering the world from the Kha-Khan Ogodai sat up again. “You sit in the wrong place to see how funny the world is. Yes, I know. Psin Khan, we instruct you to ride with Sabotai to the camp of our nephew Batu and there to serve in the campaign against—” He waved a hand. “Whatever lies west. Wherever you find rebels.” Preparation for war Cities to take. An interesting problem, taking a city. Psin remembered the raid over the Caucasus, more than ten years before. If Sabotai had already beaten the Alans and Bulgars, the Christians were the next target. Psin had seen some Frankish knights in Outremer, when the Mongols fought the great war against the Muslims. The Franks were big, limber men who rode exceptionally strong horses. They fought with swords rather than bows. He wished he’d been more interested, back when they were fighting in the west. Heavy cavalry, the Franks would try to ram into an enemy line. Interesting. On the Steppes of Central Asia They rode steadily west, through desert bordered by blue mountains. Twice a day they reached waystations, changed horses, and rode on. They got little sleep. Psin thought Sabotai was worried about what was happening in the Volga camp and the city called Bulgar while he was gone. Sometimes, when they had reached the second waystation of the day early in the evening, they rode on all night, dozing in the saddle, a rope tied between their horses. Twice they met caravans going west—the camels, swaying on their great feet over the stony ground, reminded Psin of the Muslims who had spoken of the Franks of Outremer. He spent half the night in a waystation talking to the men of one caravan in his rusty Arabic. The camel drivers, from Damascus, mentioned the Franks even before Psin could ask. “How do they fight?” Psin said. “By the Compassionate God,” the head driver said. He raised his hands and eyes toward the ceiling. “When they are on ground of their own choosing, there is nothing that can meet their charges. There was one, now long gone from Outremer, who stood head and shoulders taller than you, lord.” Psin glanced at Sabotai, who was listening. Sabotai said, “Taller than you?” He sounded shocked. “And as broad,” the Damascene said. “He was a Norman. The stories are still told of him. He was king of Antioch.” “They use swords,” Psin said. “Lances also. They don’t throw them, they hold them, thus.” The Damascene locked his elbow against his side and held his hand palm up before him, the fingers curled around an unseen lance haft. “Their charge is terrible.” Psin smiled, so that his eyes narrowed. “Mongols don’t usually wait to be charged.” A little help with the house-work “How many slaves did you bring?” “Sixteen,” she said, and started toward the door. Psin stood rooted. “Sixteen? In God’s name, woman—” “Well, you really didn’t expect us to come unattended all the way out here, did you? I brought two women to cook, three to do campwork, four men to drive carts, and seven to keep guard.” “Sixteen slaves? I’ve already got five here.” “Good. We shall be carefully looked after. Are you going to show me where to put my things or not?” The love-life of Psin and his two wives In the tiny room Chan sat with her back to him, combing her long black hair. On the wall in front of her hung a sheet of gold polished into a mirror. She wore a dark blue robe—silk—never sturdy Mongol trousers. She heard him come in; he saw her eyes in the mirror looking at him. But she didn’t stop combing her hair. He paused just behind her and sat down on his heels. In the mirror their eyes met, his face looking over her shoulder. He could smell regal lilies as if they blossomed in the room; he could smell the scent of her long hair. Her cheek made the silk look rough. She drew the comb once more through her hair and put it down and laid her hands in her lap. He could read nothing in her eyes. Her image in the mirror seemed cast around with a net of beaten gold. He put one arm around her waist and dragged her against him. She stiffened, as if to resist him, and in the mirror he saw her look away. Her hands touched his, cool, like raindrops. He buried his face in her hair.   But that night he ate and slept with Artai. To disturb the order of such things would only wreck the peace of his house. Complete surrender A roar went up from the walls of the city above them. The gate had swung open. Psin shaded his eyes with his hand. A company of knights was riding out down the road, pennants flapping over their heads, and they had a truce flag hitched to one bannerstaff. Sabotai muttered something under his breath. . . . “What terms for the peaceful surrender of Moskva?” “No,” the young man cried. “Complete surrender,” Psin said. “We will sack the city and burn it. The people will be slaves.” For once the company was silent, their eyes filled with shock. The leader said, “Is there no mercy in you?” “Mercy enough. You will live. If you don’t surrender, you’ll die.” “And many of you as well.” Psin shrugged. “Everybody dies. I’ve said what the terms are.” The leader looked away, toward the river. Behind him the young man dropped the point of his lance. “We shall never surrender,” he shouted. His horse bolted forward. The leader whirled, throwing one hand out to stop him, but the young man only brushed past. The lance was aimed at Psin’s chest. Psin whipped his horse around. The young man tried to follow but his horse, bigger and more burdened, couldn’t turn so fast. The lance wavered past Psin, close enough that he could have caught it. His horse reared, and the young man fought his own horse around to bring the lance to bear. Six arrows impaled him, all at once. They thrust up from his chest, his side, his throat, and out of the Mongol camp rose a deep snarl like a bear’s inside a cave. The young man pitched out of his saddle and lay on the frozen ground, face up. image: One God, one world, one Kha-Khan “What’s west?” “Europe. A spit into the sea, like Korea. Two years’ fighting.” “And then what?” “We will hold the world from sea to sea.” Until the Sun falls “It’s not the number that matters, but God’s hand on the bow. We are sworn to conquer the world, and to do so we will fight until the sun falls.” image: Quotes from (Temujin) Genghis Khan Temujin said, “It would be seemly to get drunk only three times a month. It would be preferable, clearly, to make it only twice or even only once. It would be perfect never to get drunk at all. But where is the man who could observe such a rule of conduct?” Temujin said, “In everyday life like a fawn, at feasts and celebrations carefree as a colt, but on the day of battle swooping like a falcon to the attack. In daylight alert as a wolf, in the night vigilant as a black crow…” Temujin said, “When it is necessary to write to the rebels and to send envoys to them, do not threaten them with the strength and great size of your army, but say only: If you will submit yourselves obediently you shall find good treatment and rest, but if you resist—as for us, what do we know? The Everlasting God knows what will happen to you.” Temujin said, “My descendants will go clothed in gold; they will dine on the choicest meats, they will ride superb horses and enjoy the most beautiful young women. And they will have forgotten to whom they owe all that… image: Following Temujin's orders his armies conquer the world. Come along for the wild ride! Enjoy!

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    Holland is a great author with a great body of work. This was one of her early ones, which I found in the deeps of a used book store. It's a full offering and a book I pull out and re-read every year or two. The story is an account of the great early Mongol expansion over Asia. It carries a minute eye for historical detail (as does all her work), based on very deft research that she weaves perfectly within a crafty storyline. Since stumbling on and reading this book I have become a Holland fan, and Holland is a great author with a great body of work. This was one of her early ones, which I found in the deeps of a used book store. It's a full offering and a book I pull out and re-read every year or two. The story is an account of the great early Mongol expansion over Asia. It carries a minute eye for historical detail (as does all her work), based on very deft research that she weaves perfectly within a crafty storyline. Since stumbling on and reading this book I have become a Holland fan, and if Cecelia Holland's name is on the jacket, I know I've got a treat in store. JFB

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    “It’s not the number that matters, but God’s hand on the bow. We are sworn to conquer the world, and to do so we will fight until the sun falls.” An engaging if slow-paced historical fiction about the Mongol invasions of Europe from the Mongol perspective. Uses modern places names, for which most contemporary readers will bless the author. “Mongke plays you like a pipe. Try thinking before you do things. It has a wonderful effect on the mind.” The fictional characters are more interesting than the “It’s not the number that matters, but God’s hand on the bow. We are sworn to conquer the world, and to do so we will fight until the sun falls.” An engaging if slow-paced historical fiction about the Mongol invasions of Europe from the Mongol perspective. Uses modern places names, for which most contemporary readers will bless the author. “Mongke plays you like a pipe. Try thinking before you do things. It has a wonderful effect on the mind.” The fictional characters are more interesting than the historic, which is as it should be. The mass of Temujin (Genghis Khan) descendants is confusing, not Holland’s fault. “We hold all the ground from here to China. Isn’t it enough?” “You know the reasoning. If we don’t attack them, they’ll attack us.” “So I’ve been told. It says little for us, though, that we keep going just because we started.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Caviglia

    This is my first Holland novel, and I am sadly underwhelmed (considering the author’s reputation and the glowing reviews of her fans). To me, Until the Sun Falls seems like the last episode in a TV series in the absence of the series itself. The reader is dropped—without benefit of preparation—in medias (or better, ultimas) res, as Psin, a Merkit Khan, sets off, with the Mongol general, Subutai and assorted others, to conquer Russia and parts west (Europe) ... in what retroactively proves to be This is my first Holland novel, and I am sadly underwhelmed (considering the author’s reputation and the glowing reviews of her fans). To me, Until the Sun Falls seems like the last episode in a TV series in the absence of the series itself. The reader is dropped—without benefit of preparation—in medias (or better, ultimas) res, as Psin, a Merkit Khan, sets off, with the Mongol general, Subutai and assorted others, to conquer Russia and parts west (Europe) ... in what retroactively proves to be the last expansion of the Mongol empire. And I—who have some background on the Mongols—was initially at sea (bestepped?). This novel is absolutely not what some seem to think it is, an “introduction” to the Mongol conquest, depicting as it does its end, while barely addressing the rich history (and much culture) leading to the action’s start. Temujin was acclaimed Genghis Khan—leader of the Mongol confederation he created by diplomacy and warfare—in 1206. Until the SunFalls takes place two generations later (Batu, son of Ghenghis Khan’s oldest son, is one of the characters), sometime between the late 1230’s and 1241. All that falls between is essentially a void when the novel begins. For example, Subutai was a general under both Genghis Khan’s and his son Ogedei, directing more than twenty campaigns in which he conquered thirty-two nations and won sixty-five pitched battles, conquering more territory than any other commander in history. None of this is even hinted at in the novel; he is just another personage ... important, yet peripheral to Psin. But then, who the heck is Psin himself, the principal character, a Merkit? Who, or what, were Merkits? I could go on ... but the fact is that Until the Sun Falls is a historical novel deeply and sadly lacking in historical context. And this novel dropped into a historical void scarcely fares better in the matter of culture ... unless you know nothing about Mongols to begin with. Yurts and kumiss are there of course (as well as other essential Mongolian etceteras) but the narrative in no way provides a dense richness of cultural detail—a fact underscored as I am currently revisiting The Once and Future King, which is wonderfully laden, however ironically, with precisely that. And the novel’s cultural poverty is echoed in the language, for Until the Sun Falls has almost no Mongolian in it, other than proper names.... Explanatory apparatus—maybe a preface and maps—would also have helped orient the reader. This novel attempts too much in too little space (an ironic contrast to the Mongolian enterprise itself). And that little space itself is weirdly chosen. Why, of all the Mongol expansion, did Holland choose the last of that conquest as her single slice of their life...? Personally, I feel that she selected this “sunset” moment (to echo the title) because at that late date—having conquered much of the world—Mongols at last pitted themselves against Europe. The unvarnished truth is, of course, that the Mongols had no more problems galloping roughshod over Russians, Poles and Hungarians than they did over anyone else, and, to her great credit, Holland makes this clear. Also, as the novel is about to end, the Mongols are setting their sights on the Holy Roman Empire, and Holland in no way makes this conquest seem impossible. On the contrary, the irresistible Mongol momentum that comprises the action of her novel underscores that possibility.... At bottom, then, Until the Sun Falls is an exercise in ‘What if? It invites us to envision the imminent conquest of Europe, and a consequent “rewriting” of all modern European history (giving the title further resonance). However, the novel ends as the Mongol forces suddenly withdraw (as historically they did), not in any way defeated, but because Ogedei, the Khan of Khans, has died in distant Karakorum, capital of the empire.... Until the Sun Falls is therefore what the French call a roman a thèse—or say, a novel with an ax to grind. And a fascinating subset of its ‘thesis’ is that at this late date in the Mongol expansion, in Holland’s own words, their “light cavalry” came up against “heavy.” This translates into the fact that Mongols, with their bows and on their hardy ponies at last fought what we (and she), call “knights,” mounted on horses huge enough to bear the weight of their own armor and the cumbrous burden of their noble riders, charging at you with lowered lances. So, since such knights were essentially annihilated by the Mongols at every turn in Russia, Poland and Hungary, the “What If?” of the novel threatens also to destroy a deep and cherished European fantasy enshrined in Le Mort d’Arthur—and in too many other medieval texts to mention—of the noble, invincible “knight” (errant or not). (A Google search unearths this essay of Holland’s: ‘The Death That Saved Europe: The Mongols Turn Back (2000)’, anthologized in a book called—What else?—What If?) {And Here I digress to praise Holland for portraying European knights as helpless against the Mongols, which is historical. This, in contrast to the Europhilic, knight-enabling fantasy of The Year of the Horsetails, which purports to be historic, yet inverts fact by creating a xenophobic fantasy in which knights manage to crush the dark, slant eyed, faceless Mongolian hordes.} Bottom line: Despite its transient charms, Until the Sun Falls does not do its immense subject justice. It tells too little, too late ... all for the sake of the essentially Eurocentric question: “What if?”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Edward Philippi

    A great book marred by a stupid cover. The book is about the Mongols yet the cover shows Greek Hoplites superimposed over Egyptian cotton. Cover aside this is the place to start from if you want to know what it was like to serve alongside Temujin and the rest of the Horde.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Reading UNTIL THE SUN FALLS, you will find yourself in China during the early thirteenth century, for an adventure as exotic as the land it recreates. Genghis Khan has just died, leaving his empire between two men: his heir to the title of high king, his son, Ogotai; and to Batu, his eldest grandson of his oldest son. As the land from the East China Sea settles for peace, the western provokes are gearing up for invasion--of Russia and whatever other lands lay west. At the heart of the story, tho Reading UNTIL THE SUN FALLS, you will find yourself in China during the early thirteenth century, for an adventure as exotic as the land it recreates. Genghis Khan has just died, leaving his empire between two men: his heir to the title of high king, his son, Ogotai; and to Batu, his eldest grandson of his oldest son. As the land from the East China Sea settles for peace, the western provokes are gearing up for invasion--of Russia and whatever other lands lay west. At the heart of the story, though, is Psin, the king of a tribe that calls itself the Merkits. It is Psin who, along with his wives and family, finds himself on the brink of history. As seemingly invincible armies prepare for fierce battles along the Volga River, Russia--and in truth, all of Eastern Europe--Psin and his clan ready themselves for destiny with an enemy they never saw coming. Vivid, rich with historical accuracy, Cecilia Holland's panoramic tale takes the harshest truth of history--war--and spins it into a personal story of triumph.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eric S

    I first read this book in early 1971 and it had a much better cover. I reread it to see if it still held up and it does. That's why I give it 5 stars. This book has what most readers want, escapism and fun. No it isn't 100% historically accurate and all that but boy is it good. The characters are believable, interesting and unique. Cecelia Holland has shown what a good story teller she is. She describes a time hundreds of years ago, a place totally different than where any of us now live and peo I first read this book in early 1971 and it had a much better cover. I reread it to see if it still held up and it does. That's why I give it 5 stars. This book has what most readers want, escapism and fun. No it isn't 100% historically accurate and all that but boy is it good. The characters are believable, interesting and unique. Cecelia Holland has shown what a good story teller she is. She describes a time hundreds of years ago, a place totally different than where any of us now live and people steeped in a strange culture and yet she brings out the common humanness of her characters. That is a talent. The book is an excellent look into the time when the nomadic Mongols ruled one of the largest empires in history. It's brilliant and I recommend it to anyone.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Edward Rosenfeld

    I read this book for the first time in the late 60's. I loved it then and I am re-reading it now...Still love it...Cecelia Holland is perhaps on of the greatest Historical Novelists of the last 40 years....Her talent is outstanding and she is always worth reading.... I read this book for the first time in the late 60's. I loved it then and I am re-reading it now...Still love it...Cecelia Holland is perhaps on of the greatest Historical Novelists of the last 40 years....Her talent is outstanding and she is always worth reading....

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dorum

    It must be either the case that this review was deleted, or that I somehow misremember writing it. Nevertheless, I will take pains to write it again. I was really interested in this book. The Mongol conquest and history fascinated me. This book was highly recommended and it had a high rating on Goodreads. I said, what can go wrong? Now, after wasting my time reading it, I simply cannot believe this rating. Even worse, if I actually wrote this review before, and it was deleted, then I believe I ca It must be either the case that this review was deleted, or that I somehow misremember writing it. Nevertheless, I will take pains to write it again. I was really interested in this book. The Mongol conquest and history fascinated me. This book was highly recommended and it had a high rating on Goodreads. I said, what can go wrong? Now, after wasting my time reading it, I simply cannot believe this rating. Even worse, if I actually wrote this review before, and it was deleted, then I believe I can understand WHY the book has such a high rating. The author took great pains in actually making this work very accurate from a historical POV, but that was it. Sadly the characters are plain, and the prose is uninspiring. It is simply difficult to relate to the main character. We don't have an anti-hero, and we don't have anything that might make him fearful, neither endearing.. Then what? It is a plain dude which stirs no emotion and no interest. But the thing that really got to me was the treatment of Subutai. One must understand who Subutai is. He is probably the best general that ever lived. He is the general that conquered Russia. In winter! The historical Subutai was peerless in leadership, skills and planning. The person described in this book, not so much. No charisma at all... Barely a few words. Nothing that might make one WANT to be under Subutai's command. Nothing that might make one FEAR to be against SUBUTAI. The battles are described in a mechanical way. No feeling is stirred out of it. I have seen newspaper articles with more impact in my emotional life. I have read historical chronicles that were much more interesting! One cannot escape the bland and prosaic style of this author. The term "until the sun falls" is repeated two or three times in the book, but we cannot say that anything in the descriptions make one actually understand the majestic view of the steppe. The entire conquering of Europe is planned in one page or so! Nothing makes one understand why or how it would be fearsome/interesting/heroic/terrifying/cool to live in those times. What was the purpose? Even the Secret History of The Mongols is more interesting than that. And it has only 4 lines which detail the western invasion... And pages upon pages on the inheritance problem in Mongol clans. Now, just for comparison, imagine an event of the magnitude of WW2. Imagine that people like Rommel, Patton, Hitler, Churchill, Stalin are only footnotes and emotionless drones in a film. What would you say to such a movie? I don't know about you, but for sure "Until the sun falls" is not my cup of tea. I cannot understand the high rating of this book. For a good measure I have saved this comment, and will publish it again if it is deleted. Probably on other sites as well. I have also downgraded my review to 1 star (from 2).

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    To me, this is Holland's best novel, though several of her other early ones (Firedrake, Rakossy, Kings in Winter) are also good. It is about the Mongol invasion of Europe (chiefly Russia) circa 1240, from the Mongol point of view, or more exactly the Merkit point of view --the leading characters are Merkits, another Central Asian tribe incorporated unwillingly into the Mongol army years before. The book gives a wonderful sense of the sheer efficiency of the Mongol army, and on the whole is sympath To me, this is Holland's best novel, though several of her other early ones (Firedrake, Rakossy, Kings in Winter) are also good. It is about the Mongol invasion of Europe (chiefly Russia) circa 1240, from the Mongol point of view, or more exactly the Merkit point of view --the leading characters are Merkits, another Central Asian tribe incorporated unwillingly into the Mongol army years before. The book gives a wonderful sense of the sheer efficiency of the Mongol army, and on the whole is sympathetic to the Mongols, though not downplaying their brutality. I am currently rereading it as I have done several times in the past.

  11. 5 out of 5

    kelly

    I'm going to say 4.5 stars. I see why this is called her best novel. I didn't enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed some of her other novels. The fight scenes were engaging and evocative, but they became repetitive. I really enjoyed how she portrayed the immensity and efficiency of the Mongol army. Her characterization of Psin and his family was engaging and kept me reading. I wanted to learn more about Chan, though. This is definitely going on my recommended list of historical novels. I'm going to say 4.5 stars. I see why this is called her best novel. I didn't enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed some of her other novels. The fight scenes were engaging and evocative, but they became repetitive. I really enjoyed how she portrayed the immensity and efficiency of the Mongol army. Her characterization of Psin and his family was engaging and kept me reading. I wanted to learn more about Chan, though. This is definitely going on my recommended list of historical novels.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Lerner

    Best historical novel. I have ever read I first read this over 30 years ago and have read it at least 10. Times since then . It brings a people alive for us in a way that few other books have been able to do. The Mongels were certainly different than us but Cecelia Holland put us into their thoughts minds skin and made a most unusual and incredible people become real for me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Hampton

    One of the very best books I have read in a lifetime of reading Cecilia Holland has an uncanny ability to allow a reader to see a vanished world directly through the eyes and heart of an imagined character. I feel like I truly lived as a Mongol general on the Russian campaign of the Golden Horde, a reality I could barely imagine before.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Keeler

    This is not a book about Genghis Khan, but about what happened after his death. The Mongols continued on a path to world domination, secure in the belief that the world would be a better place under Mongol rule. Usually perceived as an unruly bunch of barbarous criminals, this book relates a complex set of rules for all aspects of daily life. The Yasa (rules) prescribed what a person had to do if unfortunate enough to be in a room when a woman died. The same set of rules informed the Mongols of This is not a book about Genghis Khan, but about what happened after his death. The Mongols continued on a path to world domination, secure in the belief that the world would be a better place under Mongol rule. Usually perceived as an unruly bunch of barbarous criminals, this book relates a complex set of rules for all aspects of daily life. The Yasa (rules) prescribed what a person had to do if unfortunate enough to be in a room when a woman died. The same set of rules informed the Mongols of who could kill whom and under what conditions the killing could be done. These life and death decisions were based on tribal affiliation and direct or indirect bloodlines. The authors note at the beginning of the book is usually something I always read first, as I did with this book. It is also useful to re-read it after finishing the book. There are lots of characters with pronoun referents that are not always clear. Reading the authors note again can produce a very clear picture of what was recently read and presented in a very entertaining story presentation. The book’s overall surprise (not a spoiler) is the description of the very complex war machine that was the Mongol forces. Modern technology in communication between forces, subject to interference by weather and poor maintenance, is not much of an improvement on the multi-colored lanterns and codes used by the Mongols. Versatility and the ability to adapt was shown when the Mongols realized that methods and tactics used on the Steppes needed modification when employed in forests, mountains, and winter. The Mongol emphasis on assimilation rather than outright domination is presented through characters which inhabit both points of view to a greater and lesser degree. This, combined with narratives about individual accomplishments with bow and arrow, individual skills with and care of horses, and daily camp rituals make this a complex sociological study set in entertaining historical fiction novel form.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

    Meet the Mongols! Your host is Psin; although actually a Merkit, the Merkits have been assimilated, Borg-like, by the Mongols and Psin is a competent and valued general. The story covers the Mongols’ invasion of Russia, Hungary, and Poland and it does so from the Mongols’ point of view. Doing so, the author shows us the Mongols as real human beings and not the stereotypical trolls with bows and arrows on horses. They’re tender to their families (usually), have both friends and enemies in their a Meet the Mongols! Your host is Psin; although actually a Merkit, the Merkits have been assimilated, Borg-like, by the Mongols and Psin is a competent and valued general. The story covers the Mongols’ invasion of Russia, Hungary, and Poland and it does so from the Mongols’ point of view. Doing so, the author shows us the Mongols as real human beings and not the stereotypical trolls with bows and arrows on horses. They’re tender to their families (usually), have both friends and enemies in their armies, can be sarcastic (“I read four short and two long, Sabotai. It may be fun to invent new signals but—“), friendly and just to their slaves, and conduct war as the totally violent exercise it is (cf. Wounded Knee and Hiroshima). We get a good view of how the Mongols conducted and lived on their campaigns and a glimpse of their upper-echelon leadership and politics. We see Psin and his son deal with the age-old father-son conflicts, and Psin encountering other cultures (and they him). While readers knowledgeable of history may have read how the Mongols easily defeated their foes in a paragraph’s line or two, it is quite another matter reading of a battle covering a chapter. Their victories only looked easy; it took hard fighting to win them. These primarily cavalry battles are not easy to follow in the narrative. It is also not easy to keep track of the Mongol royal personages. The end of the campaign occurs in just three pages which need to be read to convey its suddenness. Overall, a splendid read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul Burnette

    "Why can't we say, 'This is enough. We don't want any more,' and stop?" Psin Khan’s question, he finds, has already been answered by the Khan of Khans, Temujin’s (Genghis’s) son Ogodai who has said, “It is God’s will that the Kha-Khan rule the world. One sun in the sky, and one lord on the earth, no more.” This is the story of how Psin Khan, his son Tshant, and a host of other Khans, hundred and tuman-leaders, gather after the Mongols have conquered China in the East to field an army that turns "Why can't we say, 'This is enough. We don't want any more,' and stop?" Psin Khan’s question, he finds, has already been answered by the Khan of Khans, Temujin’s (Genghis’s) son Ogodai who has said, “It is God’s will that the Kha-Khan rule the world. One sun in the sky, and one lord on the earth, no more.” This is the story of how Psin Khan, his son Tshant, and a host of other Khans, hundred and tuman-leaders, gather after the Mongols have conquered China in the East to field an army that turns westward with the goal of conquering the rest of the world. That’s the history. The fictional interest centers around the relationships between the various khans and other leaders as they break and re-forge relationships that determine the breadth and depth of their successes on the battlefield, not to mention the depth of their relationships with the people they conquer and those they leave behind in Karakorum. Compelling fiction with believable characters in realistic situations that ring true thanks to the careful research and disciplined imagination of author Cecelia Holland.

  17. 5 out of 5

    D-day

    "We are sworn to conquer the world, and to do so we will fight until the sun falls"- Psin Except for the name Genghis Khan, not much is now remembered in the popular mind of the largest contiguous land empire in history. At its height in the 13th century the Mongol empire stretched through most of Eurasia from China to Austria. 'Until the Sun Falls' by Cecelia Holland tells the story of the General Psin and the Mongol advance through Russia to the gates of Vienna. Cecelia Holland deftly intertwine "We are sworn to conquer the world, and to do so we will fight until the sun falls"- Psin Except for the name Genghis Khan, not much is now remembered in the popular mind of the largest contiguous land empire in history. At its height in the 13th century the Mongol empire stretched through most of Eurasia from China to Austria. 'Until the Sun Falls' by Cecelia Holland tells the story of the General Psin and the Mongol advance through Russia to the gates of Vienna. Cecelia Holland deftly intertwines battles, political intrigue and family conflicts into a well written story. It is a very interesting narrative full of action and violence. Told from the Mongols point of view, Holland depicts the brutality of their conquest while still representing their culture sympathetically. A valuable insight into one of the most important chapters in world history, much neglected in the west, and a good story well told.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Medrith Nuttle

    A great historical novel about the Mongol invasion of Europe in the 13th century, from the point of view of a Mongol general. Psin is not actually a Mongol but a Merkit khan, a ruler of one of the first tribes conquered by the Mongols when Temujin Genghis Khan first began to take over his known world. This story takes place after Temujin's death when his son Ogodai was Kha-Khan. Cecelia Holland does not tell us things, she shows us. The story covers several years and we learn about Mongol societ A great historical novel about the Mongol invasion of Europe in the 13th century, from the point of view of a Mongol general. Psin is not actually a Mongol but a Merkit khan, a ruler of one of the first tribes conquered by the Mongols when Temujin Genghis Khan first began to take over his known world. This story takes place after Temujin's death when his son Ogodai was Kha-Khan. Cecelia Holland does not tell us things, she shows us. The story covers several years and we learn about Mongol society, laws and military methods through Psin, his son Tshant, his grandson Djela, and his wives Artai and Chan. There's some amazing close-up battles and some fairly horrifying events that really bring home the fact that these guys are not 21st-century Americans concerned with being nice. I read it first in 1973, loved it, and am glad to report that it really holds up today.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Antessa Walters

    Back in the late 60's, my grandfather introduced me to libraries and the love of reading. He would only let me get adult books to improve my reading. I read this book back then an 11 year old and it has stuck with me. I had forgotten the name of it and the author, but a little google research found this again for me. Why out of all the books did this one stay with me? I don't know, but what a joy it was to read it again. I think it explains my fascination with Mongolia and their expansion across Back in the late 60's, my grandfather introduced me to libraries and the love of reading. He would only let me get adult books to improve my reading. I read this book back then an 11 year old and it has stuck with me. I had forgotten the name of it and the author, but a little google research found this again for me. Why out of all the books did this one stay with me? I don't know, but what a joy it was to read it again. I think it explains my fascination with Mongolia and their expansion across Asia and Europe.

  20. 4 out of 5

    DoctorM

    An absolutely stunning novel of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the late 1230s. Austere, taut, powerful. Her hero--- Psin Khan, the point man for the Mongol scouting forces ---is a fine character. Holland tells the story wholly from the Mongol point of view, and Russia and Western Christendom beyond are presented as alien and as mere prey to the Mongol empire. A favourite of mine since my teens.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    A fine galloping ride through a unique period of history! I was motivated to read this book after watching a season of Marco Polo, and without that impetus I might not have stuck with this book in the beginning. I would have missed out if I'd abandoned it. The author wove an elaborate tapestry of Mongolian culture and history that was entertaining and enlightening. A fine galloping ride through a unique period of history! I was motivated to read this book after watching a season of Marco Polo, and without that impetus I might not have stuck with this book in the beginning. I would have missed out if I'd abandoned it. The author wove an elaborate tapestry of Mongolian culture and history that was entertaining and enlightening.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kei

    That would be the fifth time I have read this book and I still love it. Why? No idea, it just speaks to me on so many levels. I love these people and the complexities of their lives, and the settings, and the 'view from the other side' of a history I'd only seen from a western Europe perspective before. One of my all time favourite. That would be the fifth time I have read this book and I still love it. Why? No idea, it just speaks to me on so many levels. I love these people and the complexities of their lives, and the settings, and the 'view from the other side' of a history I'd only seen from a western Europe perspective before. One of my all time favourite.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lonni

    Wow! Fictionalized to be sure, but this story brings to life (with many real characters) the story of the Mongol campaign in Russia and Eastern Europe. Would give it 5 stars but would not classify as a work of "literary merit", and all the characters are hard to follow. Wow! Fictionalized to be sure, but this story brings to life (with many real characters) the story of the Mongol campaign in Russia and Eastern Europe. Would give it 5 stars but would not classify as a work of "literary merit", and all the characters are hard to follow.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Larson

    A truly remarkable book that puts one in the midst of the Mongol army in the Middle Ages, as they nearly conquer the entire known world.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Margareth8537

    She writes fascinating books, spreading her stories widely. Her language is clear and succinct, conveying much in few words.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Datta

    Gripping saga of the lives and battles of these 13th century conquerors of the world..

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joan Huehnerhoff

    The kingdom of the Khans, the expansion of their empire, life in a yurt. This book gave me a greater understanding of the history of the Mongols and their time in history.

  28. 4 out of 5

    J. Quantaman

    Vivid descriptions of Mongol warfare. Author shows how the use of colored banners, colored lanterns and colored rockets gave leaders a battle presence that Napoleon and Frederick the Great would've died for. Superior battle tactics and the famed Mongol compound bow shows why these nomads from the steppes overran "civilized" nations like so many cardboard targets. ___The author also describes wives and family squabbles clearly. I felt I was right there amid the narrative scenes. Vivid descriptions of Mongol warfare. Author shows how the use of colored banners, colored lanterns and colored rockets gave leaders a battle presence that Napoleon and Frederick the Great would've died for. Superior battle tactics and the famed Mongol compound bow shows why these nomads from the steppes overran "civilized" nations like so many cardboard targets. ___The author also describes wives and family squabbles clearly. I felt I was right there amid the narrative scenes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Piselli

    Reread of Holland's novel humanizing the terrifying Mongols. I could read Holland's books all day. This one was written before Floating Worlds, and I always imagined Floating Worlds to be a fantasy but based on the Mongols of this book. One note: The version I reread is a print on demand version. While I'm glad the book can stay in print this way, the physical production is difficult to read. Try to find something else and save your eyes. Reread of Holland's novel humanizing the terrifying Mongols. I could read Holland's books all day. This one was written before Floating Worlds, and I always imagined Floating Worlds to be a fantasy but based on the Mongols of this book. One note: The version I reread is a print on demand version. While I'm glad the book can stay in print this way, the physical production is difficult to read. Try to find something else and save your eyes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    great book about the eastern invasion of the Mongols in the 13 century!!!!

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