The Baljuna Covenant
by Tim Pelkey
SDP Publishing

"'And yes, Genghis Khan was also believed to have more impact than George Washington, Churchill, Lenin, even Charlottesville’s own Thomas Jefferson.'"

The adventure begins when James Andrews, an archaeologist and professor from the University of Virginia, returns from a dig in Mongolia with a mystery bone. Could it belong to a descendent of Genghis Kahn, or perhaps to the great warrior himself? Andrews and his colleague, Abby Conrad, who works in Ulaanbaatar University, are determined to find out. Along with a slew of others experts, Andrews has been attempting to find Genghis Khan’s burial site for years. Finding evidence of Khan or his ancestors would mean a financial boon for Mongolia and bring in much needed tourism. As it turns out, it would also help the Mongolians prevent the very real threat of war from the Red Army. When two of Andrews trusted colleagues attempt to kill him, Andrews is shot. He wakes up in a hospital bed back in the United States whereupon he learns that the excavated bone has been stolen from the lab. Andrews uncovers a sinister political plot against Mongolia. Suddenly, it seems that no one is who they say they are—including Abby, who reveals she is CIA. Under Abby’s orders, and with the help of his friend, Baabar Onon, a member of the Mongolian national parliament, Andrews is sent back to Mongolia on another dig. This time, however, the stakes are higher than ever. The survival of a nation might even depend on the outcome.

Part political fiction, part action story, The Baljuna Covenant is an engaging and suspenseful read. Pelkey is a proficient writer, and he expertly intersperses the historical journey of a young Temujin’s rise to warrior with the present day plotline. The two parallel stories seamlessly transition between time periods and settings. Each of the plotlines are engaging and offer suspense, action, and drama that often mirror each other. Like Temujin, Andrews is betrayed by the people he loves. Like Temujin, Andrews is driven to save the Mongolian people. And, like Temujin, Andrews puts himself in great danger to succeed in his mission. Both protagonists travel the hero’s journey.

Pelkey has written a rich and captivating novel. Scenes wherein Andrews is lecturing to his college classroom provide a clever way to simultaneously educate the reader on the history of Genghis Khan and Mongolia. In between Andrew’s lectures, the author take us back to the same moment in Temujin’s storyline. The reader, therefore, also learns about Genghis Khan’s march across Eurasia and how his journey led him to collect the best technology and weaponry of the time. Indian mathematics and Persian astrology, Andrews tells his students, were also discovered by the great warrior. Professor Andrews even suggests that Genghis Khan was the greatest conqueror to date, responsible for bringing printing, gun powder and the compass to Europe. Andrews leaves his students (and Pelkey leaves his readers) to ponder the idea of what it means to be a leader. Sometimes, it means making decisions that will affect millions of people, and sometimes this same decision can lead to the slaughtering of entire civilizations. Because, as Genghis Khan discovered, unless you kill your enemy, they will eventually return to kill you and your people.

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