The Mongol Khan 
Rating: ★★★★★
Creator: Hero Bataar
Writer: Lkhagvasuren Bavuu

A graphic novel version of the stage show, The Mongol Khan, playing at London's Coliseum November 17 - December 2, 2023. Mongolia 2000 years ago. A brutal succession battle threatens the very stability of the Empire. As the great Khan struggles to maintain his supremacy, a plot hatches that will forever alter the balance of power.

After an incredible book launch last week at the London Coliseum and being introduced to some of the traditions and culture of Mongolia, I was very much looking forward to reading the graphic novel version of the stage show, which opens this Friday to a sold out first performance.

The graphic novel is described as a great introduction to the history of Mongolia, and a taste of some of the culture the country has to offer, and I couldn't agree more. While I thought the story may be difficult to follow, it was fast-paced, action-packed and engaging. The translation of the novel from John Man and Timberlake Wertenbaker is brilliant, and makes the story completely accessible to an English reader. 

The graphic novel is set 2,000 years ago in Mongolia. It follows the story of the Khan, who has recently become a father to two sons from two separate women. He's had no intimacy with his wife for years, so he's certain one of the babies isn't his. In a cruel twist of fate, the babies are switched and the Khan must make difficult decisions as to who inherits the empire. It's full of mystery, intrigue, ruthlessness, brutality and secrets.

Before you even open the book, it's visually stunning. At £50 per book, you'd be expecting something beautiful - and The Mongol Khan doesn't disappoint. What makes this book truly compelling is the art. The artist is Erdenebayar Nambaral and his art is truly remarkable. The colours are mostly black and white throughout, with splashes of red. The red is typically used to symbolise blood or violence, which is really impactful when reading. There are many pages without words, but Nambaral's art speaks for itself. Like the expression says, "a picture speaks a thousand words" - and his certainly do.

The layout is simplistic and easy to follow, and is split into seven accessible chapters. This makes it easy to dip in and out of. However, I'll be honest, I read the novel in one sitting as I simply couldn't put it down once I'd started.

With manga as popular as it now is in the Western world, I think this graphic novel is a great opportunity to learn more about Mongolian history; particularly for a younger audience, like myself. I also think it's another innovative way in making theatre appeal to a wider audience. If you're looking for a book that's simple to read, but filled with action and stunning images, The Mongol Khan is the one for you. 

You can buy the graphic novel, The Mongol Khan, here.

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