Bones of the Hills (Conqueror #3)

By Conn Iggulden; Published In 2008
Genres: Historical, Fiction
After tonight, we will be with the spirits and see the hills of home,” he called to them. “The khan will hear. He will sweep this land clean.

All information can be bought, my son, if you are willing to pay the price.

All men die, Genghis. All. Think what it means for a moment. None of us are remembered for more than one or two generations." He raised a hand as Genghis opened his mouth to speak again. "Oh, I know we chant the names of great khans by the fireside and the Chin have libraries running back for thousands of years. What of it? Do you think it matters to the dead that their names are read aloud? They don’t care, Genghis. They are gone. The only thing that matters is what they did while they were alive.

All men die,” Jelme went on, ignoring the outburst. “It could be tonight, next year, or in forty years, when you are toothless and weak. All you can do is choose how you stand when it comes.

A man should always care about pleasing his wife.

Be careful of raising me too high, brother. I have no special strength, unless it is in choosing good men to follow me. The great lie of cities is that we are all too weak to stand against those who oppress us. All I have done is see through that lie. I always fight, Kachiun. Kings and shahs depend on people remaining sheep, too afraid to rise up. All I ever did was realize I can be a wolf to them.

Genghis snorted. “Men always die in war. Their kings expect it. I want them to know that if they resist me, they are putting their hand in the mouth of a wolf. They will lose everything and they can expect no mercy.

He did not fear such enemies, nor a dozen armies like them. He was khan of the sea of grass and they were just city men, soft and fat for all their bluster and sharp swords. He would cut them down.

He wanted his enemies proud and strong, so that he could cast them further down in his vengeance.

His generals were ready; his sons were. It remained to be seen whether the Arab nations were ready to meet them in war. In their arrogance, they had invited annihilation.

I am the khan of the sea of grass, the silver people. I have chosen my heir, as is my right. Let the sky father and earth mother destroy any man or woman who stands in the way.

I came to these lands because when a man threatens me and I look away, he has taken something important from me. If I fight and die, all he can take is my life. My courage, my dignity remain. Shall I do less for the nation I have made? Shall I allow them less honor than I claim for myself?

It does not matter what others think of how I lived my life. It does not matter if we go down in Temuge’s histories as tyrants or even cowards. All that matters is what we do now. We are our only judges, Kachiun. Remember that. Those who come after will have other trials, other battles to worry about.

Know the enemy and you will know how to kill him.

The eyes showed the soul and they were always hardest to mask.

The point of war is to win, Kachiun. It does not matter how we do it, or how long it takes.

There are wolves in these mountains,” he said. “Some of my men have hunted them for skins. They will find you here tonight and at first they will only watch. As the cold makes you weak, they will come closer and begin to nuzzle your legs and hands. They’ll scatter when you call out and move, but they won’t go far and they’ll come back with more courage. When they start to tear your flesh, when the smell of blood excites them, think of me then.

There is a price for all things.

The suffering of my enemies will be a feast to the spirits. When I am old, I will remember the tears they have shed and it will ease my bones.

This is a hard land and the people are used to death. If I am to rule them, they must know that to face me is to be destroyed. They must be afraid, Chakahai. It is the only way.

We are not here to earn riches with a bow. The wolf does not think of fine things, only that his pack is strong and no other wolf dares to cross his path. That is enough.

We are nothing but the oath we give.

We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.’ —George Orwell

When I am gone, I do not want men to say Look at his piles of wealth, his cities, his palaces and fine clothes.” Genghis paused for a moment. “Instead I want them to say Make sure he is truly dead. He is a vicious old man and he conquered half the world.

You have no idea what you have done.

Your life is just a bird’s flight through a lit room. You pass from infinite darkness into endless night, with only a short time in between.