Amgalant and me

 

Review in the Asian Review of Books

“Against Walls” by Bryn Hammond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

‘makes the Mongol people spring to life’

570 pages/210,700 words

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’

622 pages/246,910 words

 

Where to buy

 

ebooks from:
Amazon US, Amazon UK, or your marketplace
Smashwords and their distributors
Apple iBooks US, UK, or your country
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Or use this Draft2Digital page to find my books in ebook shops

Paperbacks from Amazon in these marketplaces: US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, JP

 

 

Contacts

Facebook page

On Twitter I’m Jakujin

I am active on Goodreads. I keep my research shelves there — see the sidebar

email me at first name at amgalant

In case of random acts of sponsorship, I have a Paypal.me/BrynHammond

 

Reviews of Amgalant first editions:

“Amgalant was difficult to start, but the payoff for sticking with it is immense. Amgalant far exceeds any of the historical fiction I have read in detail and effort. This is a book that is meant to be read slowly and carefully so the reader can absorb the wealth of information contained in the pages. Amgalant belongs on the shelf with the best of the epic historical fictions.”
— Joseph Spuckler on One: Against Walls
Full review at Goodreads

“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… As someone with a history degree I usually don’t promote historical fiction as a way to learn history. The Amgalant series is different. There is plenty to learn from reading this series. Extremely well done.”
— Joseph Spuckler on Two: Imaginary Kings
Full review at Goodreads

“The end result has a solidity and believability (is that a real word?) that draws you ever onwards to just one more page. Such writing only comes from someone who has invested themselves body and soul in a piece of work and the author’s enthusiasm and commitment shines out through every page.”
— A. Hopcraft ‘Alan’
Full review at Amazon UK

“Bottom line, Amgalant One is a riveting start to an epic trilogy that brings one of the most important figures in world history to life. Readers who might fear that this is a book for scholars can feel assured that this was tons of fun and full of imagination and memorable characters.”
— ACP
Full review at Amazon US

“Three things impressed me most: Hammond’s ability to create believable characters in everyday situations; her use of “modern” language suitable to these characters that works much better than contrived archaisms; the interchange among civilizations and nomadic peoples and the effect these relationships have had within history.”
— Gary Inbinder
Full review at Goodreads

“What’s extraordinary about this novel is the way the narrative feels both modern, as if the story is being related by your history-buff friend from 2012, and perfectly historical, as though your friend is also a time-traveler from some era around the middle of the thirteenth century.”
— L.M. Ironside
Full review at Goodreads

“A story of much psychological insight underlined by the author’s unique and stylish expression. Bryn Hammond’s writing is one that paints rather than tells. You get a sense of meaning from understatements and symbolisms; it befits the Mongol setting perfectly.”
— Laura Rahme
Full review at Goodreads

“It’s clear that she is herself enraptured by the time, the place, and above all the historic characters she fleshes out to live their complex tribal lives. Hammond has researched every aspect of her enterprise, not to harass us with needless historic detail, but to make sure that the experience of the reader will be full and genuine. This is your chance to travel in space and time, and BE THERE… Amgalant is a rare and different, wonderful read, although not always easy. Hats off to Hammond for her long, loving and continuing discipline.”
— John Caviglia
Full review at Goodreads

“Bryn Hammond makes the Mongol peoples spring to life as you read about them. Dry witted, whimsical, a thorough delight from page to page. The sort of book not to read on public transport as you are liable to become so engrossed in it that you will miss your stop… a roaring good read.”
— Margaret
Full review at Goodreads

 

Website by Julie Bozza. She of the dedication:

My sister has been godmother to the book. Amgalant, what’s written and what isn’t written yet, is dedicated to her, with waves from Tem and Jam, and no sight or scent of a goat. In steppe epic, a steed and a sister are your trustiest, most intelligent and indefatigable aid: the hero doesn’t have to be heroic, but these do.

 

11 thoughts on “Amgalant and me

  1. Hi Bryn, i am from Kyrgyzstan and i have found your posts very refreshing and easy to read. I have found your blog, as i was searching for Manas epic. I think you should come out to Kyrgyzstan, to have a deeper understanding of our nomadic culture and of Kyrgyz history. Manas epic was added as a UNESCO world Heritage from Kyrgyzstan last year and there is so much to discover about Manas both for Kyrgyz and for Westerners alike.

    • Hello Azamat,
      I’m honoured to have you visit the site, and thanks for getting in contact. I hope Manas can become better known around the world. Here’s a link to the UNESCO listing in Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, for people to see — it has a slideshow and short video, introducing the Manas tradition: http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/00876

      I’ve followed your name’s link to http://www.nwtravel.kg/about-us/, for stays with a nomad family — fantastic photography of Kyrgyzstan.

  2. Hi Bryn, i would love to talk to you more about your books – i am an English teacher and a writer and, i guess, an obsessive reader/studier/academic – moving into studying more philosophy and history lately, and next year starting mathematics/engineering. But really i am fascinated in mongolian history & traditions etc and would LOVE to talk to you more about your work. I too am often in melbourne (as i live in country vic but travel to melb regularly ) and would be so honored to be in contact and if we could talk more i would be most happy! let me know if i can ask you some questions about your work via email> so glad to have found your website! mazzie

    • I’d love to talk to a likeminded soul, Mazzie. I’ll email you shortly with my email, and let’s chat. Thanks for the contact. –Bryn

  3. Hi Bryn, by telling you about Manas epic in my previous email, I was trying to accentuate on the richness and depth of Kyrgyz nomadic culture. I’m I the process of improving my English writing skills to convey Kygyz nomadic culture in the way you can write about Mongolian culture so eloquently and vividly. What can you advise for starting writers to read (books?) or maybe some personal tips from your accumulated personal luggage in this area. We may be worlds apart, but I have enjoyed your writings so much so that I see in it parts of Kyrgyz culture.

  4. hi bryn,

    i am almost done with the first book (of the amgalant 2 big volumes) — and i LOVE what you’ve done here (and am very happy to know that there will be more :-) i have only one question: is there a map to consult while reading the books? i missed one sorely. anywhere you could point me (preferably on the web, so i can print it out) would be great.

    thank you!!!

    • Hello Mo,

      First, let me say it’s wonderful to hear you are enjoying the books. Nothing cheers a writer like that news.

      I have been conscious of the need for a map. Your comment has motivated me to contact a potential map drawer today. The trouble is, I can’t send you to a map on the web that has place names translated/spelt differently or sited elsewhere — locations in the Secret History of the Mongols being often in dispute. I think I’d only cause confusion to use a general map, even one circa 1200. It is far past time I had one made to go with the books, with the sites and landmarks I feature, and put up on my site for download.

      Unfortunately I cannot estimate when that might be. Still, first steps taken, thanks to your comment.

      with hopes you enjoy the rest, and what’s yet to come,
      Bryn

  5. hi bryn,

    wonderful to hear from you — and good news, indeed! except that in the absence of even a confusing map (but nonetheless your favorite among what’s available) i (and others) are left with choosing haphazardly *something* — inevitably worse than what you would suggest of what is currently available. you see what i mean? also — perhaps there could be *versions* of maps (your own, that is?) meaning: first drafts, refinements, etc — so we have *something*? just sayin’ … :-) and yes, you bet — i finished amgalant I last night and am gleefully looking forward to vol. II which is sitting on my nightstand!!! (and then, eventually, vol III, which i imagine, figuratively speaking, to be sitting on your desk :-)

    best,

    m.

    p.s. i am raiding your read-and-4-and-5- starred-books on goodreads. your sensibilities VERY much jive with mine, and i am amassing a shelf full of hf, sf, and fhf that i am really looking forward to! btw, i found your amgalant via goodreads, after finishing holland’s “until the sun falls” and perusing other’s reviews and suggestions :-) have you read dorothy dunnett’s lymond chronicles? if not, you might like those!

    • I *do* see what you mean, and I’ll get on it: I’ll find my map of preference until I can give you perfection.

      Great to hear from you again upon finishing the first. Yay.

      Dorothy Dunnett: I so enjoy her style; I remember I read the first two pages of a Lymond and (figuratively) screamed in joy ‘Wit! she writes with wit!’. I cannot explain to myself why I have not got along with her content — but then I have scarcely tried, and I can’t let a writer like her go to waste. I have two or three of hers, I’ll dig them out. Thanks for the prod.

      :) big smiles
      Bryn

  6. ah, marvelous. a MAP!!! i will wait with vol II until i have it, because i really like to look were i am (so to speak :)

    and yes, dunnett’s lymond chronicles: *the* most complex reading i have ever undertaken (and that is saying something. proust cannot hold a candle in matters of sheer complexity. of course, i have not yet tried javier marias’ “your face tomorrow” sequence, although i have it sitting here.) anyway. lymond. you must read this in order. and you do need the 2 companion volumes to be able to read (translate) all the quotes (or for help with placing them.) http://www.amazon.com/Dorothy-Dunnett-Companion-Elspeth-Morrison/dp/0375725873/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458966743&sr=8-1&keywords=dunnett+companion (this is vol i, there is a vol ii). nothing else has EVER absorbed me in this way — i mean, once i got into this (and it took 3 separate tries, i, too, found it hard to get into) — it literally consumed months and months of my reading time. i do not believe i have ever felt as LITERALLY breathless as i did at some of the more gripping junctions of the lymond chronicles. hmmm. it’s been years. i should try them again. after your tschingis, that is (which, incidently, is how we germans write his name: Tschingis Khan.) anyway. absolutely worth your notice.

    btw, i do not think i have ever seen anyone else liking james tiptree jr., george steiner (who, i wholeheartedly agree, is *the* essayist of the 20th century, and none more lucid on the ever-obscure heidegger), and nicola griffith all at the same time. i love your list.

    anyway. i babble. if you haven’t seen this yet, watch: https://www.dramafever.com/drama/640/1/The_Painter_of_the_Wind/

    xox

    • {…have been struggling with maps…}

      On other subjects: Oh, the Painter of the Wind is a must-chase. From Australia I can’t view on the site above, but it’s obviously fascinating.

      Our brains must run on similar paths. Lymond it is; I like large, complex reading projects, although the amount of time I find for fiction lately is disgraceful. Lymond’s reviews are persuasive and a fun read in themselves (I love reading reviews, I often browse the entire readers’ response on Goodreads. Which reminds me: thanks ever so much for yours).

      Onto the subject of maps. I am reduced to an attempt by hand. Not happy with any I can point to on the internet, and those I use in books are copyrighted. Thanks for your patience, even if you haven’t felt patient. :)

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