Mongols have always been known as badasses, mostly because Genghis Khan and his descendants took over the ancient world, but also because throughout the history of China, the threat of barbarian invasions were a main theme in every dynasty. The Great Wall, built by the first emperor of China, was created to prevent the northerners from entering Chinese lands. Historical stories of war and heroism, of great battles and complex strategies, very frequently took place along the northern borders, against the northern barbarians.
Northern barbarians of course were not limited to Mongols in Chinese history. The Uyghers, Khitans, Xi Xia, and the Manchurians were also constant threats. In the east, the Japanese did not try to invade until the 20th century, and in the West, the Tibetans never invaded. What made the Mongols unique was their approach to warfare, to politics and to strategy.
Mongol strategic warfare was very psychological, at least during the times of Genghis Khan. For the cities that opened their gates and submitted to him, they were able to maintain their normal lives, their religion, and their properties, though under his rule. Those cities that did not submit were annihilated, to the point where not a chicken or a dog was to remain alive. That reputation led to many conquests without a single battle.
Mongols were also the first ever to use biological warfare. After they destroy a city, they would move thousands of decaying bodies to the next city, and they would catapult them over the walls. The city had no means of disposing the bodies without opening the gates, and disease ensued.
Mongols had interesting skill sets that made them ideal for ancient warfare. Because they virtually lived on their horses all their lives, their armies are extremely mobile. They can easily switch horses at full gallop. Their archery skills were phenomenal, and their bows were known to be more powerful than the British longbow. Yet, the bows were also shorter, enabling them to fire from horseback. They wore silk shirts under their armor, and strangely enough, incoming arrows became twisted and trapped in the silk shirts, stopping them before they can puncture major organs. With the silk wrapped around the arrowhead, the missile was also easily extracted – it would simply slide back out. This provided Mongols with a definitive advantage in battle.
The idea of the Mongolian warrior attaining a prominent presence in all of the books that I write, whether as a leading character or as a sidekick, was certainly an easy decision. The next six books that I have planned out all contain Mongolian warriors. The idea of a foreigner, a barbarian traveling through a civilized land, both feared and discriminated against, was an interesting bit of texture that allowed many twists and turns in the story, creating both strong conflicts and subtle character developments.