Book Review: On The Trail Of Genghis Khan by Tim Cope

Is there a more interesting character from history than Genghis Khan? The Mongol leader managed to unite the legendary horse clans and build the the largest contiguous land empire that the world has ever seen. The Great Khan was a legendary leader, a fearsome warrior and an unrelenting enemy. More than 700 years after his death, he still casts a large shadow over the Mongolian people and his mark on history is undeniable, altering the destiny of two continents.

Of course, the Kahn and his Mongol Horde were able to accomplish great things because they were perhaps the greatest horseman to ever live. It is with that spirit in mind that Australian adventurer Tim Cope set out to accomplish something that hadn’t been done since the time of Genghis Kahn himself. With little previous experience in the saddle prior to setting out, Cope launched a 10,000 km (6000 mile) journey starting in Mongolia and ending in Hungry. An expedition that he chronicles in his new book, On The Trail Of Genghis Khan.

Before he ever launched this epic excursion, Cope new he was in for a challenge. After all, he was an inexperienced rider with thousands of miles of open steppe to conquer on his own. The trip began in June of 2004 and would ultimately take him three years to complete.

Traveling with a number of horses and his loyal dog Tigon, he faced harsh and difficult climates, wild wolves, horse thieves and a host of other challenges. He also met some incredible people and was continually surprised and humbled by the hospitality and kindness of the strangers he met along the way. Tim’s journey was as much about finding himself on the trail while following in the footsteps of a legend.

Cope’s new book takes readers along for the ride as he wanders across Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Crimea, the Ukraine and finally Hungary. The story is a compelling one for anyone who enjoys a good tale of adventure but Tim’s writing style draws readers in even more. It is a wonderful mix of his personal experiences framed against a historical backdrop that gives us a glimpse of what the Kahn experienced when he made a similar ride centuries earlier.

Reading On The Trail, it is impossible to not get swept up in Tim’s infectious sense of adventure. His story is an amazing one, but he also approaches it in such a way that you’ll think that it might be possible for you to attempt an epic adventure of your own. That’s the kind of inspiration that Tim creates through his writing, which is at times very sensitive and thoughtful in its approach.

If the writing were less compelling, the 450+ page book could run the risk of feeling as long as Cope’s journey across Asia and Europe, but fortunately that isn’t the case. It is a real page turner that will leave you staying up later than you intended so you can read “just one more chapter.”

On The Trail Of Genghis Kahn is available in bookstores now and is wonderful read for anyone looking for a grand adventure. With the holidays fast approaching, it would also make a great gift for your favorite adventurer or traveler. If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping to a far off, remote destination with hundreds of miles of open space all to yourself, you’ll likely appreciate what Tim has accomplished. His tale is the very definition of the “epic” and by the time you finish reading it, you’ll be ready to set out on  your own journey. That’s what a great book is all about.

Kraig Becker