I never considered myself a reader of historical fiction novels, probably due to the manner in which history was/is taught in school. In college, however, I had a favorite professor, educated at Harvard, with a keen intellect, and wit. During a class, and I still remember this, he mentioned the Mongols' sacking of Baghdad, where the city folks were so materialistic, they swallowed their jewels, only to have their bellies split open and their treasures robbed. Tremendous libraries and precious art were gleefully destroyed. Civilians were slaughtered and the city's treasury was plundered. The event was an extreme example of cultured civilization falling under swords of ruthlessness.
Well. I suppose that lecture was the reason I impulsively entered the Goodreads giveaway for Conn Iggulden's novel about Kublai Khan. It is a long, rich, finely researched, description of bloody battles, Mongolian strategy, barbarian character, and strength that lifted a family from a roving band of starving nomads to, by the third generation, conquerors of areas greater than those of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. If you would have gauged my level of interest in such things only a week ago, I would have yawned. Now, I'm going to read the first of the Iggulden's series about Genghis Khan, and perhaps the rest of the series as well. Goes to show, you never know a person, until they read a good book, and their interests are set ablaze.