Anyone who thinks military historical fiction is all swords and sandals has clearly not encountered the novels of bestselling author Conn Iggulden. His novels sweep the centuries, arching from Rome in the time of Julius Caesar in his Emperor series to his Mongol warlord series, Conqueror and most recently his novels of the Wars of the Roses. He is also the author of the popular guidebook The Dangerous Book for Boys.
In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others. 401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India. As many as fifty million people are his subjects. His rule is absolute. Though the sons of Sparta are eager to play the game of thrones . . . Yet battles can be won - or lost - with a single blow.
The Emperor Series
Two boys, closer than brothers, destined for greatness. So begins the lives of the man who will become Emperor Julius Caesar and his closest friend and deadliest rival, Marcus Junius Brutus. The stage is set for an epic saga of one man’s rise and fall in the powerful arena of Ancient Rome.
The Conqueror Series
A name that inspires fear, a man who established a dynasty, the greatest rags to riches story ever told: this is the Conqueror series and the legacy of Genghis Khan.
The Wars of the Roses Series
One Kingdom, two families, thirty years of war. The Wars of the Roses series charts the making of a nation and the battle between the men who would be king.
Dangerous Books for Boys of All Ages
Part guide, part compendium of facts and trivia, part dangerous hobby; The Dangerous Book for Boys series tells you everything you need to know whether you’re aged eight, or eighty from how to build a treehouse, to how to tell direction with a watch and much, much more.
For writer Conn Iggulden, storytelling is in the blood. His great-grandfather was a Seannachie (a Gaelic term for a bard or storyteller) and Iggulden admits, “story-telling is in the genes somewhere.”
The Gladiator Effect
His first career was as a teacher, following in the footsteps of his mother who was a history teacher, and he still says he has ‘a teacher's tweed jacket on my soul’ before he turned history into fiction for his first novel.
Entitled, The Gates of Rome, the book caught the tide of a resurgence in interest in the Roman period, partly (the author acknowledges) spurred on by the release of the film Gladiator. One of Waterstones’ most frequently recommended authors; the success of the series evidently owes more to skilful and consistently gripping writing than luck of timing.
The book launched Iggulden’s first series, Emperor, which follows the life of Julius Caesar and characters from all strata of Roman society living through Caesar’s rise to power. With a film of his Emperor series in the offing, Iggulden may well be the instigator of his very own ‘gladiator effect’ before too long – his fans will be holding the producers to a very strict adherence to his books, no doubt.
From the Wolf of the Plains to the Stormbird
Further forays into the depths of history followed, with Iggulden proving his range by jumping from ancient Rome straight into the midst of the 13th century and the plains of the Asian steppes for his novel of the Mongol Warlord Genghis Khan, entitled Wolf of the Plains. It’s a story Iggulden describes as "the greatest rags-to-riches story of all time" and one which has become one of the bestselling historical series of all time: Iggulden’s Conqueror novels.
Although Iggulden spent much of his time researching his Genghis novels on the ground in Mongolia, he is up-front about the deviations he makes from absolute historical accuracy, making character central to the plot. He is keen to emphasise his view that "historical characters are still basically the same people we are; they just lived 1,000 years ago."
After completing the Conqueror series, Iggulden turned to a very different time and place – albeit closer to home - beginning his series about the Wars of the Roses with the novel Stormbird. It’s a move that has proved his versatility with critics praising the series for bringing a familiar period to life, the Times called it "Pacey and juicy, and packed with action."
Alongside his fictional success, he became the first author to top both the fiction and non-fiction charts simultaneously when he and his brother collaborated on the phenomenally successful boys-own guidebook The Dangerous Book for Boys. Not bad for a book Iggulden modestly labels "just a hobby book, really."
Iggulden doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet; astonishingly prolific, he has written almost a book a year since he started and he doesn’t seem likely to let-up anytime soon. He’s even found time to pen two children’s books, How to Blow up Tollins and Dynamite Tales. More than a profession, Iggulden is a writer who seems to genuinely enjoy his craft, his verdict: "It isn't better than sex, (thank goodness) but it can be better than that first, gasping cigarette in the morning. Perhaps."