by Stephanie Thornton
Published by: Penguin Random House
Genres: Historical Fiction
In the late twelfth century, across the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, brilliant, charismatic Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself the Great, or Genghis, Khan. But it is the women who stand beside him who ensure his triumph....
After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, gifted Borte becomes an outsider within her clan. When she seeks comfort in the arms of aristocratic traveler Jamuka, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man who agreed to marry her and then abandoned her long before they could wed.
Temujin will return and make Borte his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new kingdom. Their daughter, the fierce Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, will transform her desire for revenge into an unbreakable loyalty. And Sorkhokhtani, a demure widow, will position her sons to inherit the empire when it begins to fracture from within.
In a world lit by fire and ruled by the sword, the tiger queens of Genghis Khan come to depend on one another as they fight and love, scheme and sacrifice, all for the good of their family...and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls.
Happy Wednesday! Sophia Rose is here today sharing THE TIGER QUEEN and shares the story of Genghis Khan’s wives and daughters. Grab a cuppa and see why Sophia loved it.
Sophia Rose’s Review
THE TIGER QUEENS was my second foray into Stephanie Thornton’s epic stories of women leaders, queens of destiny if you will. In this story, she infuses life into the shadowy tale of the wives and daughters who helped forge the Mongolian Empire as much as Genghis Khan himself.
THE TIGER QUEENS is a book broken into four sections that follow a linear timeline from the early days to the waning years to solidifying the future through the lives of Borte, Genghis’ first wife, Alaquai, his daughter, Fatima the Persian slave-scribe of his daughter in law, and finally, Sorkhokhani, his daughter in law.
Thornton fused fact with the brand of fiction that pleads its case in the ‘it could have really happened this way’ variety. She gives them color and life in strength and flaw. The gritty, barbaric and brutal world of the Mongols is laid before the reader in such a way that motivation, understanding, and sympathy is present beside other unapologetic realities. I had to take this book in stops and starts because it gutted me a few times particularly near the end.
I found it interesting that the central figure, Genghis Khan, is not really the central figure. This story could not be told without him, but yet, his is always a minor role. This truly is the story of the wives and daughters of Genghis. The Mongol clan culture sees women as the rulers of the hearth and men have charge of everything outside the tent. Raiding for slaves and spoils. Rape and pillaging. Tribes would wholesale slaughter one another down to the smallest child. If the woman survived the raiders then she was handed off to some other man to start again if she can. It’s all understood to be common. The women face these realities with vulnerability, but it also makes them a hearty, strong lot.
It was telling that though this was a man’s world that Genghis had two warrior daughters and a daughter in law who acted as generals and he trusted them to hold territorial leadership roles even over the men he married them, too. Early on in his life, he had a weasel dad who stole his mom, Hoelun, in a raid. It was she who guided his early training. Then he chose another fiery, strong woman for his wife in Borte and it was her early opinions he sought before taking action.
The historical detail and backdrop of the story are painted with color and depth so that the Mongol tribal culture and expanding world come alive. The culture and society are portrayed with a balance. We all know the barbarian side of Genghis and his family, but they also instituted schools, hospitals, law codes, written language, freedom of religion, respected art and music, unification, and stronger trading among peoples. The events captured in the story also jive with known historical fact.
This paper copy includes a map, list of names and connections (which I really, really needed), historical notes and bibliography, author Q&A, and a group discussion guide.
In summary, THE TIGER QUEENS is a fantastic example of historical fiction done well. It is factual to a degree (the author shares in her notes where she altered fact), but it is foremost a story that pulls in the reader and makes them engage with the characters. The rest of the author’s backlist will definitely be added to my list of future reads.THE TIGER QUEENS is a fantastic example of historical fiction done well Click To Tweet
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