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The Tiger Queens: the Women of Genghis Khan

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Tiger Queens: the Women of Genghis Khan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Quinn

    I've never met Stephanie Thornton in person, but boy, do I want to, because her brand as an author is unapologetically kick-ass women of the ancient world. I first became acquainted with her Empress Theodora, which I was delighted to blurb, and then went on to Pharoah Hatshepsut - but the women of Genghis Khan are the best yet. Thornton's third book "The Tiger Queens" is a knockout. The great Khan himself is really just the framework on which the novel is hung - this story circles around the wom I've never met Stephanie Thornton in person, but boy, do I want to, because her brand as an author is unapologetically kick-ass women of the ancient world. I first became acquainted with her Empress Theodora, which I was delighted to blurb, and then went on to Pharoah Hatshepsut - but the women of Genghis Khan are the best yet. Thornton's third book "The Tiger Queens" is a knockout. The great Khan himself is really just the framework on which the novel is hung - this story circles around the women of his reign, and what women they were. Four narrators hand the torch to each other in turn: seeress Borte who is Genghis's primary wife; brash tomboy Alaqai who is his favorite daughter; endearing Persian snob Fatima who will be absorbed into the household as captured slave and eventually councilor; and finally the silent daughter-in-law Sorkhoktani who will step up to seize the reins when Genghis's empire begins to fracture. Other women have roles to play as well: a tough-as-nails adopted daughter with mismatched eyes; a neglected minor wife whose daughter will wreak a terrible vengeance for her exclusion; a rape-ravaged princess whose madness will have unspeakable consequences for one of the four narrators. It's a complex web and an even more complex family tree; you will need to flip to the character index in the back of the book to keep track, but it's well worth it. These women are fascinating, and there isn't a weakling among them. Mongolia itself is a character here as well: the bitter winters, the harshly beautiful steppes, the fermented mare's milk and the conical huts and the meals of saddle-tenderized stallion meat. This is a savage world, and it springs to life in all its brutal glory, terrible, tender, and tragic by turn. A highly recommended read - I cannot wait to see what Thornton does in her next book, which tackles the women of Alexander the Great!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Historical Fiction

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I didn't think much about sitting down with Stephanie Thornton's The Tiger Queens. I flopped on a chair in the living room, figured I'd read while the kids watched their Saturday morning cartoons and life would go on as usual, but that's not what happened. In point of fact, I managed only two pages before realizing I'd grossly underestimated the situation. Thornton impressed me with The Secret History and Daughter of the God Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I didn't think much about sitting down with Stephanie Thornton's The Tiger Queens. I flopped on a chair in the living room, figured I'd read while the kids watched their Saturday morning cartoons and life would go on as usual, but that's not what happened. In point of fact, I managed only two pages before realizing I'd grossly underestimated the situation. Thornton impressed me with The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods, so my falling in love with The Tiger Queens isn't exactly a surprise, but the prologue alone told me she's outdone herself this time around. Something about that passage struck a chord and teased my imagination in a way I'd not anticipated. I was eager, giddy even, and it was only the beginning. There is a vividness to Thornton's setting that is virtually unrivaled. I'm hesitant to call it beautiful, her descriptions of life on the steppes are often harsh and unapologetically brutal, but for me that's part of its appeal. There is a relentless intensity about it, an inherent authenticity that jumps from the page and illustrates the forces that shaped Thornton's leading ladies into the women they became. Four narrators sound like a lot, but here again, Thornton rises to the challenge. Borte, Alaqai, Fatima and Sorkhokhtani are each given their due, but I what I liked is how Thornton used their individual personalities to her advantage. She goes to great lengths to exhibit their various strengths and weaknesses, throws them into situations that are incredibly challenging, but unites them as a sisterhood. Historically these characters are defined by their association with Genghis Khan which is why I loved this portrayal of femininity how it contrasted with his legend and the heavily masculine society in which they lived. Yes, I sound like a gushing fan girl, but I really don't care. The Tiger Queens is easily one of the best books I've tackled all year and has earned a place of honor among my all-time favs.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bren fall in love with the sea.

    "The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surely as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur. " The Tiger Queens, Stephanie Marie Thornton Five stars. Maybe the best of the year so far. I am having such a year with books in 2020. I have had the pleasure to read lots of 4 and 5 star books, particularly in the last month or so. This maybe the best of the year so far. For a book about Genghis Khan, I did not think this book would be so....soulf "The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surely as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur. " The Tiger Queens, Stephanie Marie Thornton Five stars. Maybe the best of the year so far. I am having such a year with books in 2020. I have had the pleasure to read lots of 4 and 5 star books, particularly in the last month or so. This maybe the best of the year so far. For a book about Genghis Khan, I did not think this book would be so....soulful. But it is. The story is told by the women he loved and who loved him. And I went into it, thinking I'd not like it or maybe even DNF. I took a chance. The last book I attempted to read, told about a famous warrior from the viewpoint of the women who loved him, was "The conqueror's wife" about the women who loved Alexander the Great and I never finished it. But how wrong was I! This book is amazing. It is narrated by four different women, all of whom were intricate parts of Genghis Khan's life. The first part of the book..and the longest story..is told by his first wife, Borte Ujin. What a woman she was! I love reading about strong women and Borte Ujin falls into that category. She had more strength in one finger than many have in a lifetime. Reading about her was a wonderful experience. As I said, her story is first and the longest. It starts shortly before she meets Genghis for the first time, when she is just a young girl. But it continues through many many days and years of both deep darkness and tragedy as well as searing and intense beauty. Then there are three other point of views, including Alaqui, the first daughter of Khan, Fatima, (The Rose), a captured slave and Sorkhokhtan, his daughter in law. All four women's stories are fascinating in their own right. And all four women live through so much tragedy. Tiger Queens spans years. It is a long book filled with love, loss and mesmerizing stories and events. It is also not for the faint of heart. There is blood and gore and rape and death..just know that before you go into it. And there is also extreme violence, torture and rape. So TRIGGER ALERT! Also, I am the first to turn away from stories involving animal cruelty but this story is about a culture that did indeed do things like eat horse meat on a regular basis. I was OK during these scenes but do feel compelled to let the reader know. But that is a small part of the book. Tiger Queens is at once a cultural read as well as a story about families and love, friendships and loyalty. The story that emerges is hauntingly lovely and captivating. I was..and am..enthralled. Atmosphere plays a big role and the villages and customs of the Mongol empire are described in detailed and starkly gorgeous prose that is all consuming and drops you right into the book itself. Time will slip away from you are you read this. I think you will know, almost from the start if this is a book for you or not. I love the sensitivity in Khan that the reader is made deeply aware of. He loved and he loved hard. He loved his wife, his children and his whole family as they did him. I was struck by the loyalty and devotion depicted here. It is impossible..or at least it was for me..not to feel as though I am walking in the villages with these people. You will feel everything from the winds blowing across the villages to the glimmering snowmelt to the lush fields and lakes and streams. I do not see how once read, anyone will be able to ever forget this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Absolutely fantastic! I was completely captivated by this novel. This is not a novel for the faint of heart... but, I think the descriptions really captured the reality and brutality of the life these women lived. Their lives were challenging but the love they developed for each other was truly a beautiful thing to witness. The story never slowed down or lost its momentum. These women will stay with me for a long time. I think that Ghengis would be very happy that someone has finally shone a lig Absolutely fantastic! I was completely captivated by this novel. This is not a novel for the faint of heart... but, I think the descriptions really captured the reality and brutality of the life these women lived. Their lives were challenging but the love they developed for each other was truly a beautiful thing to witness. The story never slowed down or lost its momentum. These women will stay with me for a long time. I think that Ghengis would be very happy that someone has finally shone a light on these remarkable women. Thank you, Stephanie for sharing their story. 5 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    Anyone that hears the name Genghis Kahn thinks of a savage monster, blood dripping from his fingers as he conquers the world. And yes he definitely was all that but this book also gave us a glimpse of a very human side to Genghis Khan and you get a real sense of the feminine power behind him. And no it’s not just merely because the book focuses on the women of this time. I was very surprised to learn of the fact he regarded his wife and daughters very highly. At the time of Genghis Kahn’s death Anyone that hears the name Genghis Kahn thinks of a savage monster, blood dripping from his fingers as he conquers the world. And yes he definitely was all that but this book also gave us a glimpse of a very human side to Genghis Khan and you get a real sense of the feminine power behind him. And no it’s not just merely because the book focuses on the women of this time. I was very surprised to learn of the fact he regarded his wife and daughters very highly. At the time of Genghis Kahn’s death his daughters ruled from the Yellow Sea to Caspian. I don’t think ever before had women held so much power over such vast regions. And just because the story is told from the viewpoint of women don’t for any moment think you will get a softer version of the story. You still get a real sense of the violence but also the understanding of deeply held traditions and tolerance for varying religious traditions Even the landscape felt like a character in the story: the bitter winters, the harshly beautiful steppes, the fermented mare's milk and the conical huts and the meals of saddle-tenderized stallion meat. I have been meaning to read another book dealing with Genghis Kahn but for some reason felt a bit intimidated by the book. So when I came across this one dealing with his wives and daughters I thought this would be a good way to ease me into this bloody part of history The story is narrated by Brote his first wife, Alaqai his first daughter, Fatima a captured slave and Sorkhokhtani his daughter-in-law. I was really glad Fatima was included as a narrator as she was the only outsider that gave another perspective on the Mongols. Anyone brought up in this tradition would not think all the blood drinking and drunk savagery of the men as anything noteworthy but with Fatima’s narration you really get a sense of how the Mongols were viewed by outsiders. I also loved Alaqai, the fierce spear-throwing, horseback riding tomboy who like all the females in this time had to make sacrifices beyond what should be expected from women. This is not a hard book to slog through, it was written as an easy reading page turner so if you are looking for something that is a bit more scholarly you may perhaps find this wanting. But I really enjoyed it and while Genghis Kahn may have created a fierce empire, without the women, it wouldn't have lasted as long as it did.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Q

    *Fair warning: there will be gushing and fangirling ahead. This was one of my most anticipated novels of the year, and I absolutely loved it.* If you follow my reviews, you know that I loved Stephanie Thornton's previous novels, The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods. I have extolled her incredible talent for bringing a time period so vividly to life, and she has outdone herself in her third novel, The Tiger Queens. Reading this book was like stepping into a whole new world, one that was com *Fair warning: there will be gushing and fangirling ahead. This was one of my most anticipated novels of the year, and I absolutely loved it.* If you follow my reviews, you know that I loved Stephanie Thornton's previous novels, The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods. I have extolled her incredible talent for bringing a time period so vividly to life, and she has outdone herself in her third novel, The Tiger Queens. Reading this book was like stepping into a whole new world, one that was completely foreign to me. I'd never read any fiction about the Mongols, and I was fascinated by these people and their hard-scrabble existence; men who fought hard and played harder, who honored their elders and revered their wives, daughters, and mothers but didn't hesitate to rape, enslave, and murder women of rival clans; people who were superstitious to a fault yet tolerant of the many different religions that converged as foreigners made their way to the empire and the empire sought to gain a foothold in international affairs, the many clans with their shifting rivalries and alliances and their thirst for blood, battle, and power. As I was reading, I marveled at all of the little details that came together--and the mountains of research it must have taken--to bring these people, their landscape, and this time period to life. The brutal lifestyle of the women at the heart of this novel is so unflinchingly depicted that at times I wondered if it was all worth it, but always the women who bound these people together managed to find the important things that matter in life to cherish. There's Borte, Genghis Khan's first and chief wife, the khatun of his empire. So stoic, so brave, so resilient, gracious, and wise. So resigned to sacrificing her desires for the greater good of her family and her people, yet so burdened by a prophecy of doom that she herself ends up bringing it into being. Alaqai, their daughter, a wild child forced to grow up fast to survive in a dangerous new home, and doing so with surprising wisdom and compassion--and with a wonderful love story that satisfied the romantic in me. Fatima, the beautiful, pampered Persian noblewoman who is reborn as a slave and must learn to survive among her barbarian captors, balancing a desire to live with a desire for vengeance. And Sorkhokhtani, the quiet and unassuming, dutiful wife and mother who takes over in the dynasty's darkest hours and saves it from self-destruction. At first, I worried that four narratives told by four different women would be disjointed or uneven, but I found each of the women to be so interesting that though I wished each woman's moment in the spotlight didn't have to end, it did not take long before I was absorbed in the next woman's story. But it's not only the story of these four women. It's the story of the many wives, sisters-in-law, cousins, and retainers who formed Genghis's circle of influence, of all the people they ruled and all the people who helped--whether by choice or by force--to build the Golden Family into a dynasty whose contributions shaped the future of Asia. And this world of Genghis Khan's women is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, I found some of the Mongol customs to be downright disgusting (horse lovers, proceed with caution), some of their actions horrifying and revolting, and there were times when I truly viewed them as barbarians, but at the same time, it was impossible to forget that they were also all too human. That's one of the things I admire about Stephanie Thornton's writing; she does not shy away from the reality of her subject matter, portraying a time period and a people with all of their faults in addition to all of their triumphs. This book held me captive from the first page, and I savored the many twists and turns, heartaches and joyful moments, tragedies and victories that all added up to the creation of an empire and a Golden Family to rule it. That being said, it's not completely perfect. After such a rich and thorough accounting of Genghis's rise to power, the breakneck speed with which the sequence of events leading up to the end take place felt a little off, and it does get a bit confusing when the large cast of characters reaches its highest count in those final pages of land grabs and power plays. And I was a bit disappointed to learn in the author's note that because the historical records of these women are so few, and what does still exist is not always clear, that some of the women's lives were combined and shaped for the sake of good storytelling. But I just can't bring myself to hold any of this against the book. It's such a great reading experience. Though this is a fictional accounting, I can't help but think that each of these four women would be honored by the tribute Stephanie Thornton has created for them. And I am thankful to her for bringing them to life for me, for introducing me to who these women were and what they accomplished, and for doing it in such a way that I am not likely to forget them. Gripping, fascinating, heartbreaking, and inspiring, and by far one of the best books of the year.

  7. 4 out of 5

    The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears

    Well yay! 2015 has started out with a bang! The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan is that historical novel that grabs you by the jugular and doesn't let go until the very last page. I read this awesome book in 24 hours and I plan to read it again. It's just that damn good. And the main characters are women of colour, which of course, pushes all my happy buttons! We all know of Genghis Khan and the Mongol hoarde who conquered much of Europe and Asia (at least you should). We know of Kublai Kha Well yay! 2015 has started out with a bang! The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan is that historical novel that grabs you by the jugular and doesn't let go until the very last page. I read this awesome book in 24 hours and I plan to read it again. It's just that damn good. And the main characters are women of colour, which of course, pushes all my happy buttons! We all know of Genghis Khan and the Mongol hoarde who conquered much of Europe and Asia (at least you should). We know of Kublai Khan and Marco Polo. But as usual, the strong and fierce women who were both the power and the passion behind these figures have been relegated to the margins of history. Until now. The stories of these incredible women--the wives, daughters, grand-daughters and even a captive from one of the many cities Genghis and his people conquered--are told in a novel that is a sweeping saga of love, power, loyalty and the strength of indomitable women who helped to make the Mongol Empire feared throughout the medieval world. I loved how well the female friendships/kinships are valued highly given the questionable misandry that seems far too prevalent from female authors these days. This is a savage and violent time, yet also one of deeply held traditions and even an amazing amount of tolerance for varying religious traditions. Ms. Thornton writes so very vividly of a place and time long ago. Her imagery is lush, the sights, sounds and smells of the Steppes, of felt tents in the grasslands, the sweat of horses in battle, the whoosh of arrows flying, of women who wait and those who fight. Still, I'd be remiss not to give a heads-up on some of the rape and torture (though not overly graphic) that appears in the novel. This isn't a sugarcoated historical fiction book, and if you're a horse lover, you're probably not going to be a fan of the nomadic Mongols who often ate their horses. An amazing novel that reminds me why I adore historical fiction and why the story of powerful women need more authors to step up and tell them.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Turner

    Find the full review at http://historicaltapestry.blogspot.com. Stephanie Thornton has become an author known for bringing to life the nearly forgotten stories of exceptional and courageous women from ancient history and, in the process, has become one of my all time favorite authors. I always know when she comes out with a new book that I need to set aside as much time as possible to dive deep into the world within the pages because once I plunge in I won't want to come out! Her newest novel, Th Find the full review at http://historicaltapestry.blogspot.com. Stephanie Thornton has become an author known for bringing to life the nearly forgotten stories of exceptional and courageous women from ancient history and, in the process, has become one of my all time favorite authors. I always know when she comes out with a new book that I need to set aside as much time as possible to dive deep into the world within the pages because once I plunge in I won't want to come out! Her newest novel, The Tiger Queens, is no exception and I am still reeling from the story now that I am through reading it. While the most well known historical figure within the Tiger Queens is Genghis Khan, known to many armchair history buffs like me as a brutal conqueror who united many nomadic tribes into one unified empire and used vicious tactics and brute force to spread the boundaries of that empire to staggering proportions, the focus of The Tiger Queens is the women surrounding him who not only helped build that empire but keep it intact during his life and after his death. Ms. Thornton tells her story from the perspectives of four of these women: Borte, Genghis Khan's first wife and queen; Alaqai, their daughter; Fatima, a Persian woman captured when her city was destroyed by the Mongols; and Sorkhokhtani, wife of Genghis Khan's youngest son and the woman who would see the Empire continued when many others within this Golden Family would have caused its destruction. Using these four women as the storytellers not only gives a unique perspective to the life and conquests of this complicated historical man but advances the story across the years and lands of his rule in a delightful and unexpected way. They also make this terrifying man more human, showing him as a tender and understanding husband and a benevolent (if distant) father and father figure to his people. He is still the brutal warrior we all know but has a softer side I did not expect. While all four of these women are remarkable there are a number of admirable secondary female (and a few male) characters that could have easily shared their stories and demonstrated their influences on the Mongolian Empire (such as my all time favorite character, Toregene, a noblewoman who married the Khan's son Ogodei and was as detrimental to the story as any other). The bravery, sacrifices and spirit of each and every one of these characters served to highlight their power and ability in the face of so many hardships. Ms. Thornton's writing style is perfectly fitting for this world and the characters within it and her use of language and description are simply breathtaking. The reader is instantly on the steppes with the characters during the ferocious winters and searing summers and getting their hands dirty during the animal slaughters and on the battlefields. There is no shying away from the brutality of this world and this makes the reader feel that much more invested in the lives, decisions and actions of these women. I came away from the reading completely awed by their determination and endurance against a harsh and savage world. Within the grimness of their lives, however, is a bonding and camaraderie between the women that most people can relate to and which served to, again, humanize a world most of us would not be able to imagine. These women are real and flawed, showing ambition and jealousy but also love, forgiveness and an understanding of obligation above their own selfish needs. Remarkable is too small a word for these people and I am grateful to Ms. Thornton for bringing their stories into the light and refusing to let them be forgotten by history while also making their stories accessible to everyone. The Tiger Queens, like all of the author's novels, is a must read in my opinion. Combining historically accurate information about little known women (supported by the helpful author's note and cast of characters at the back of the book) with stellar storytelling to tie up the loose ends no longer known, we are once again able to witness the lives of people who set the foundation for what our world has become.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surely as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur. 3.5 stars. The author does a brilliant job describing the setting and customs - I was totally immersed in the world she created. I also liked that the book was written from four POV's - Borte (Genghis first wive), Alaqui (his eldest daughter), Fatima (a captive slave) and Sorkhokhthani (his daughter-in-law). I equally enjoyed all of them, but wish The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surely as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur. 3.5 stars. The author does a brilliant job describing the setting and customs - I was totally immersed in the world she created. I also liked that the book was written from four POV's - Borte (Genghis first wive), Alaqui (his eldest daughter), Fatima (a captive slave) and Sorkhokhthani (his daughter-in-law). I equally enjoyed all of them, but wished that Sorkhokhthani's section was longer and more focused on her. I don't easily get upset by violence in historical fiction, but some scenes were incredibly cruel, as it should be, this is after all a book about Genghis Khan, who is responsible for the death of 10 to 15 million people. I think this is a very good introduction to Genghis Khan's life, as we only see him through the eyes of his family and don't get a lot of information on his campaigns etc. If you enjoy books about strong women, set in a time and place you've not read about before, this you should definitely read this.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Stephanie Thornton is truly one of my favorite female authors, her writing is exquisite, her knack for digging deep into history revealing the tales of some of the most unique women in history leaves an impression every time I read her writings. She stresses women's sacrifices, choices, predicaments and intelligence along with their formidable strength. She creates the setting in such a lush and vivid manner, you blend into the scenery as if you were a character, leading you to feel part of the Stephanie Thornton is truly one of my favorite female authors, her writing is exquisite, her knack for digging deep into history revealing the tales of some of the most unique women in history leaves an impression every time I read her writings. She stresses women's sacrifices, choices, predicaments and intelligence along with their formidable strength. She creates the setting in such a lush and vivid manner, you blend into the scenery as if you were a character, leading you to feel part of the narrative. Her descriptive writing allows you to experience the time and culture including the harshness, intensity of her characters as well. You feel the vastness of the steppes, its cruelty and beauty. The voices of the four individual women are as varying as their personalities. Borte, Alaqai, Fatima and Sorkhokhtani all heard and their individual stories shared permitting the women to take shape between the lines. Their transitions seamless, managing four voices is difficult, not for Thornton as she manages with ease. Each woman similar yet different but the thread of female solidarity tethering them together creating a powerful force in intellect, emotional and mental strength. Collectively they are affecting and manage to penetrate to the core of your heart. Thornton transcends research, I can imagine the hours of tedium, laborious efforts poured over facts, historical references to time, characters all translating flawlessly. She penns enough heavy detail of Genghis Khan, both his brutal and tender sides. His thirst for power, his brutality and terrifying manner to achieve his status and position drawn out in a perfect sketch. The violence was not exploited rather serving as a reminder and sign of the horrific times of this period in history, appropriate under the reign of this notorious tyrant. Thornton created an outstanding story, impeccable research worthy of attention. Truly the best book I have read this year. As always she never disappoints, her work and creativity improves. It's difficult to fathom how such a gifted authoress advances, when perfection is achieved time after time. Her consistency and keen eye for memorable events in history, continually paying homage to strong females in perilous conditions and times is greatly appreciated. Highly highly recommend this wonderful novel, absolutely outstanding. Another master work from Stephanie Thornton. Anxiously awaiting her next novel.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Faith Justice

    A couple of years ago I read and reviewed Khan: Empire of Silver from Conn Iggulden's Conqueror series that covers the turbulent time between Genghis Khan's death and Kublai Khan's ascension. I wrote, "Iggulden takes us on a roaring ride—all battles, military strategy, and new weapons (including proto-cannons)—lots of blood, death, and unimaginable destruction....Very few women make an appearance." Stephanie Thornton rights that imbalance with her book in the voices of key women in Genghis Khan' A couple of years ago I read and reviewed Khan: Empire of Silver from Conn Iggulden's Conqueror series that covers the turbulent time between Genghis Khan's death and Kublai Khan's ascension. I wrote, "Iggulden takes us on a roaring ride—all battles, military strategy, and new weapons (including proto-cannons)—lots of blood, death, and unimaginable destruction....Very few women make an appearance." Stephanie Thornton rights that imbalance with her book in the voices of key women in Genghis Khan's life: Borte, his chief wife; Alaqai, his daughter; Fatima, a captive slave and scribe to the Golden Family; and Sorkhokhtani, his daughter-in-law. I enjoyed this book very much. The language is beautiful, level of detail extraordinary, and stories fascinating. Thornton vividly brings to life little known powerful women from an important historical period (but for the sudden death of one man, the Mongols were poised to sweep through Europe). The setting is visceral filled with sweeping steppes, towering mountains, and freezing deserts. The women worked incredibly hard (as did most women in history) doing the majority of the tasks to keep the people alive and the culture thriving. Thornton divided her book into four sections, set in consecutive time periods, each dedicated to one of four women, written in first person, and continuing the story of all the women. Of all the stories, the first about Borte, Genghis' first wife, appealed to me the most. She was the founding mother who suffered the most and gathered daughters by blood, adoption, and marriage, who carried on her legacy, ruled nations, and protected their people. Paradoxically, my enjoyment and admiration for the book is the reason I gave it four stars rather than five--I wanted more. I felt that such powerful characters could have carried whole books by themselves and were shortchanged with a hundred or so pages each, especially the final one Sorkhokhtani, the formidable mother of Kublai Khan, who barely rated thirty-five pages (including the Epilog which wasn't in her voice). Sorkhokhtani ruled an empire as regent for her sons larger than any ruler in Europe, nimbly traversed the deadly politics of the Mongol court and successions, and raised the only grandsons of Genghis that seemed to have any ability to carry on his legacy. The scant references to her in the other women's stories and her truncated section of the book did poor justice to her importance to the Mongol story. But wanting more is a good complaint. I highly recommend this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The Tiger Queens is the second book this year that I felt the five star rating wasn’t enough to give. This book out shines that rating. You can’t count the stars with stories like this and I felt so inadequate in writing my review for, The Tiger Queens by. The story speaks for itself and Thornton displays such brilliance in her writing there seems to be no words to express my inner feelings about this book. I felt I would fail with my words… I’ve never studied the late twelfth century Mongolian c The Tiger Queens is the second book this year that I felt the five star rating wasn’t enough to give. This book out shines that rating. You can’t count the stars with stories like this and I felt so inadequate in writing my review for, The Tiger Queens by. The story speaks for itself and Thornton displays such brilliance in her writing there seems to be no words to express my inner feelings about this book. I felt I would fail with my words… I’ve never studied the late twelfth century Mongolian culture or Genghis Khan in-depth. I’ve only heard and learned bit and pieces through my life…I must say on of the reasons why Historical Fiction is so appealing to me is because writers such as Thornton brings readers the greatness, tragedies, conflicts, triumphs, warfare, and so on of the past to life. We learn from their stories and we connect to the people that lived long ago. Their voices come alive and we learn we aren’t so different from them…..or are we? There are so many questions one ask about history and why people did the things they did and how it has even impacted us today in the modern world. What I like most about The Tiger Queens is the contrast of the Queens and conflicts these women face and how while each of these ladies has their own attributes that are unique, they connect on so many levels. Courage being one of them. Thornton does an outstanding job portraying that. Ever line, every paragraph, every page will hold your attention. There are so many wonderful layers to the story. Not only in wonderful character development and historical detail, but the human condition of that time. The bravery of it, the harshness, death, family loyalties, war and culture. At the end of the story I was trying to make a decision on which heroine of The Tiger Queens by is my favorite. I was really leaning towards Genghis’s daughter Alaqai’s story. She does something (I won’t say, I don’t want to spoil it) I completely admire and she didn’t have to do and no one would have thought less of her if she didn’t. However, I hold each one of these extraordinary women in my heart. There are few stories that have really impacted me on so many levels. The Tiger Queens is one of them. I would have to say that Thornton is one of the best Historical Fiction writers of our time. Truly a master of the craft. Stephanie Moore Hopkins

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Dillin

    Broken into four parts to allow each narrator to share her story and carry forward the overarching history of Genghis Khan's empire, THE TIGER QUEENS is absolutely Stephanie Thornton's most masterfully written novel, so far. The worldbuilding and details of setting and culture are so richly woven, I felt completely immersed in the felt-tent cities of Genghis and his Golden Family. But even more wonderful is the strength of each of the four women who share their stories and reveal their roles in Broken into four parts to allow each narrator to share her story and carry forward the overarching history of Genghis Khan's empire, THE TIGER QUEENS is absolutely Stephanie Thornton's most masterfully written novel, so far. The worldbuilding and details of setting and culture are so richly woven, I felt completely immersed in the felt-tent cities of Genghis and his Golden Family. But even more wonderful is the strength of each of the four women who share their stories and reveal their roles in holding this great empire together -- this isn't a book about Genghis Khan, this is a book about the wives and daughters and daughters-in-law who preserved his legacy, ensuring that more than just his name might live on, and that everything he had built wouldn't be squandered away into nothing after his death. I don't envy them the challenges they faced or the struggle, but I'm certainly filled with awe and wonder at the lives they led. Stephanie Thornton does an amazing job bringing them, and their largely ignored history into focus and back to life. This might be the richest work of historical fiction I've ever read. *I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    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 follows a linear time line from the early days to the waning years to solidifying the future through the lives of Borte, Genghis' first wife, Alaquai, his daughter, F 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 follows a linear time line 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 is painted with color and depth so that the Mongol tribal culture and expanding world come alive. The culture and society is 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 bibiography, author Q&A, and a group discussion guide. In summary, this 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. I received an unsolicited copy from Penguin-Random House in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    This book was on my radar for a long time. I was introduced to Thornton’s writing with her first novel The Secret History about Empress Theodora. Her writing and research was solid and captivating, but it was her second novel, Daughter of the Gods, that cemented her in my mind as one of my favorite novelists. Thornton’s hallmark is writing about both famous and obscure women in antiquity….women that you may or may not have heard of but who have powerful stories. I love that she has discovered an This book was on my radar for a long time. I was introduced to Thornton’s writing with her first novel The Secret History about Empress Theodora. Her writing and research was solid and captivating, but it was her second novel, Daughter of the Gods, that cemented her in my mind as one of my favorite novelists. Thornton’s hallmark is writing about both famous and obscure women in antiquity….women that you may or may not have heard of but who have powerful stories. I love that she has discovered an untapped market in historical fiction. There are shelves of books on the Tudors but not many on the Queens of Genghis Kahn! This book was my favorite so far. Though I worried about the four different POVs in the narrative, it wasn’t at all distracting or confusing. In fact it made the novel go much faster with the new stories and characters. The only down side was I didn’t feel as invested in the characters at time. I personally liked Borte and Alaqai’s stories the best, and just as I was beginning to feel strongly for them….their story would end and we would have a new heroine to get to know and fall in love with. Though this was a little frustrating and it was a different approach than Thornton normally takes, I think it worked because in Mongol society, multiple women and wives were normal and how best to illustrate the power and influence of these different women then by having multiple female POVs. As always, I am deeply impressed with Thornton’s historical research abilities. I mean WOW…..she is all over the globe when it comes to finding unique women in ancient history! It’s completely mind-blowing how much research she does. All the women in her tales are completely bad ass….I wish I could meet them! One final note….another stunning cover! Her covers are always inviting and tease the reader with bright colors and clearly strong, intriguing women on the front. The covers are eye catching and alluring. If you haven’t discovered this author yet you need to! She has a flair for capturing unique stories about women in history that you would normally overlook! See my full review here

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    What an awesome book! The story weaves around 5 women of Gengis Khan, in such a rich and fascinating way. I learned a lot about the Mongolian people, and loved the women and their distinct, yet connected characters. I loved that they called each other "sister of my heart" even though they weren't actually sisters.... This is a 4 1/2*** What an awesome book! The story weaves around 5 women of Gengis Khan, in such a rich and fascinating way. I learned a lot about the Mongolian people, and loved the women and their distinct, yet connected characters. I loved that they called each other "sister of my heart" even though they weren't actually sisters.... This is a 4 1/2***

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This was a fantastic look at the Mongolian Empire under Genghis Khan and his sons as told from the perspective of several of the women involved-Borte, his first wife; Alaqai, his daughter; Fatima, a Persian highborn captive; and Sorkhokhtani, the wife of his youngest son Tolui. These are all such strong women and each story drew me in; I found this book hard to put down. Highly recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Holz

    *I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway* The Mongol Empire has many stories, but the secretive history of the proud Women of the Felt is not one widely told. This is something Stephanie Thornton uses to great effect as she weaves together the tales of some of the women around Genghis Khan - his Khatun and first wife Borte, his favorite daughter Alaqai, a captive of his expanding empire Fatima, and his daughter-in-law Sorkhokhtani the mother and architect of his legacy. The novel shifts *I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway* The Mongol Empire has many stories, but the secretive history of the proud Women of the Felt is not one widely told. This is something Stephanie Thornton uses to great effect as she weaves together the tales of some of the women around Genghis Khan - his Khatun and first wife Borte, his favorite daughter Alaqai, a captive of his expanding empire Fatima, and his daughter-in-law Sorkhokhtani the mother and architect of his legacy. The novel shifts perspective between these four, and I found myself always a little sad by the time I left one woman's part for the next. Even though the events surrounding them were sometimes repetitive, I was never bored by anyone's chapters. The ebb and flow of life on the steppe (even when the Horde is racing to its zenith) has a rhythm and all the women are connected to each other and a way of life that is stronger than the will of their strongest men. They are all strong characters, albeit in different ways, but their combined will has the power to move mountains. This was a fascinating glimpse into their world and left me wanted to read more about them.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen

    Originally I had this book rated at four stars but the more I thought about it, I had to come back and give the book the extra star. I know little about the reign of Genghis Khan. I know he wasn't the friendliest guy in the world and there's a good chance I'm related to him. He knew how to ride a horse and fired a mean arrow. That's about the extent of my Genghis Khan knowledge. By the end of this book I had my own neat little map of the various conquered tribes and where Genghis' children ruled Originally I had this book rated at four stars but the more I thought about it, I had to come back and give the book the extra star. I know little about the reign of Genghis Khan. I know he wasn't the friendliest guy in the world and there's a good chance I'm related to him. He knew how to ride a horse and fired a mean arrow. That's about the extent of my Genghis Khan knowledge. By the end of this book I had my own neat little map of the various conquered tribes and where Genghis' children ruled. It came in quite handy as the number of children and grandchildren increased. As with Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, this novel was full of exquisite detail. From the changing landscapes to the various tribal costumes, the imagery was beautiful. I also learned a little more than I could ever need to know about the various ways in which a horse can be butchered and cooked.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Stephanie Thornton is extremely talented. This novel is neatly woven together and offers a look into the Mongol history beyond what is usually considered. I really enjoyed the structure of this book as I feel it gave a wider perspective and sharper examination of motivations. I look forward as ever to the next novel!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    One of Stephanie Thornton's best efforts. Actually soundly based on documented history thanks to Genghis Khan's scribe. I thoroughly enjoyed this book which caught me up and spat me out at the other end after a fairly wild ride! History is so very fascinating One of Stephanie Thornton's best efforts. Actually soundly based on documented history thanks to Genghis Khan's scribe. I thoroughly enjoyed this book which caught me up and spat me out at the other end after a fairly wild ride! History is so very fascinating

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    An absolutely awesome book! 5+ stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin Al-Mehairi

    I know you'll ask me this, so let's start off with it, "if I had not already known Stephanie Thornton, would I have chosen this book at the women of Ghenghis Khan?" I want you to know, before going any further, yes! I'd have chosen it for the cover and the synopsis! Not only is the cover gorgeously appealing, but I love the theme. Sometimes I feel that loving this ancient historical era of the Mongols, or other prehistoric settings and native american themes, sets me aside from some other histor I know you'll ask me this, so let's start off with it, "if I had not already known Stephanie Thornton, would I have chosen this book at the women of Ghenghis Khan?" I want you to know, before going any further, yes! I'd have chosen it for the cover and the synopsis! Not only is the cover gorgeously appealing, but I love the theme. Sometimes I feel that loving this ancient historical era of the Mongols, or other prehistoric settings and native american themes, sets me aside from some other historical readers that consistently only read those authors that headline the genre. I absolutely love to read any books of women in the ancient worlds, but I have a true heart for these stories of people of the land. However, though this era of the Mongols and Ghenghis Khan intrigues me alone, now is where Stephanie's pure writing and storytelling talent comes in. I believe this might be her best book to date! As The Secret History was amazing enough to cement her into the historical fiction world as a top seller and earned her high regard, The Tiger Queens far surpasses even it. Stephanie's writing was stellar in her debut novel, but her growth in wordbuilding, phrasing, details, and emotional development of characters is quite apparent. From the moment I cracked open this long awaited novel, I was absorbed in it. I was glad to stay up late into the night and savor her writing. I was thrilled the moment that I began reading. She created her characters--the four women she focuses the story on, as well as the supporting characters--with such finesse. I had to stop and think several times about them. She created people with such detail and dimension that we can actually feel that they existed, like if we were reading their journals left behind. She writes with elegance and a lyrical pen. I felt as compelled as I feel inside a book as when I read Jane Auel, Sue Harrison, and W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear. They don't write of the women of Monguls, but of similar people of the lands, many times showcasing the strength of clan or tribe women. And this is high praise, as there is no one that compares to these writers for me. They are my secret place of happiness and so I'm happy to secure Stephanie's The Tiger Queens on this special shelf since it was such an engrossing novel about the People of Felt. I enjoyed how she separated each story and was excited each time to move on to the next to see how they all fell into place. The women of the Mongols were respected and were such political influences, even though captives and other women were treated so brutally by the men. I am not sure why more of their stories haven't been told, except for the fact that there is little information on them. I applaud Stephanie very much as her historical research was so intense and labored and she poured every ounce of what she learned into the pages in order to bring the story so visually to life. It was as if we were walking on the steppes and viewing each story ourselves. I know some about the Mongol culture, but whether seasoned on the topic or a newbie reader, Stephanie holds nothing back in her writing for anyone. They can be really brutal, disgusting, and harsh. Stephanie doesn't leave any of it out, but creates an authentic world. At the same time, she does it with such grace you almost just "get it," and move along savoring even the abhorrent parts (ha!). She helps the reader to immerse into their world and understand the time and place, the sights and sounds, the scents and even the acts and emotions. She shows how they can be gentle and brutal at the same time. It's quite the balance and I felt that Stephanie pulled it off with a seamless interlacing. It left me feeling very satisfied, as there aren't enough of these books to keep me happy, and I think it would entice more readers to enjoy these types of books and want to learn more. That's a great thing when a book can light a fire for history. Not only did the book give a much needed glimpse into the women of the Khan, but it also gave an interesting look into the rise of Ghenghis Khan, told in more gentle fashion through the eyes of these women. I enjoyed not only that, but the plots between male characters and the engaging war history as well. However, this book is proof that WOMEN are no joke, to put it bluntly! Where did we ever come up with the notion that women are weak in this country or era? Stephanie shows us what great warrior women are made of: compassion, love, strength, endurance, fortitude, and they put the meat behind the phrase, "behind every man is a great woman." I love Stephanie's portrayal of these strong women from ancient lands and times. They struggled, sacrificed, and loved, all to save their families. Stephanie offers them a superb lasting legacy. I really can't say enough about the luscious candy sentences that Stephanie serves us. They roll around like caramel in our mind, forging alliances with characters we won't ever forget. I truly think that Stephanie has a very bright future as a novelist, as her writing stands alone on great merit. She may become one of the best historical novelists of our time. For now, I know this is one of the best books I've read all year. *I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Memizuki

    In China, the tiger is considered the king of all beasts (not the lion) and represents powerful energy. Further, the tiger is associated with Tsai Shen Yeh, theChinese God of Wealth, and this god is usually seen sitting on a tiger in Asian art. Asian lore considers the tiger the protector of the dead, and will often be seen in graves as a mark of protection, assuring peace for those who have passed. • Power • Energy • Royalty • Protection • Generosity • Illumination • Unpredictability Tigers are consider In China, the tiger is considered the king of all beasts (not the lion) and represents powerful energy. Further, the tiger is associated with Tsai Shen Yeh, theChinese God of Wealth, and this god is usually seen sitting on a tiger in Asian art. Asian lore considers the tiger the protector of the dead, and will often be seen in graves as a mark of protection, assuring peace for those who have passed. • Power • Energy • Royalty • Protection • Generosity • Illumination • Unpredictability Tigers are considered a yang energy, and are also a solar animal which associates them with symbolisms of the sun, summer and fire. In ancient Chinese myth there are five tigers that hold the balance of cosmic forces in place and prevent chaos from collapsing into the universe. 5 Women of Ghengis -Hoelun -Borte -Alaqai -Toregene -Sorkhohtani Another amazing book by Thornton. What a a saga of life and perseverance. This book is a little different than her other 2 books in the way that it was written. Each character had her own story within the book. Each queen of Ghenis's story was well thought out and powerful. I would have given this book 5 stars but I loooooved her first two books so much that I felt bad giving them the same amount of stars as this one. Who would have thought that such a powerful ruler was still a human, a man with a ravenous need for power, yet still human enough to love and care. I don't think we ever learned anything about this amazing ruler in history. However it is the choices in women that he made that made his empire. He was brilliant in his decisions to make sure that family is what will bind and hold his great empire together. This from a man who with a city of tents. This is the kind of book that makes you want to learn more, to look up dates, places events. To learn more about the Mongol people and their culture and their drive to power. This book makes you think about family, about family ties, about sisterhood ties and how those intimate relationships grow deeper with time. Thornton did it again, a historical fiction novel that makes you feel that you are there, fighting along Ghengis during the blood war, you are feeling the bitter cold of the Mongolian steppes during the frigid winters. I love this culture, a culture of people who believe in family. His wife, the wife of his heart Borte was an excellent ruler of his empire as well as his blood daughters (Alaqai and Al-Altun) and daughters in law (Toregene and Sorkhokhtani). I will say it again, behind every great man there is a greater woman. How these women pushed through to save their empire is amazing. Just the story Alaqai and her 3 husbands, and Toregene who ruled before Guyuk her unhuman son. The honor one must have felt standing before these women. Everything they did was to preserve their families. I was so surprised how close to real history the author stayed. I loved reading the description of Nishapur and that battle, or the building of the capital that Ogodei built. I loved the Shigi was real and that his recorded history can be purchased at amazon.com. I appreciate the painstaking work of building these character's relationships, and building the timeline of such a massive empire. I loved that you can smell the lanoline of the gers from the felt that the women beat. I love the attention to small details of the curled milk (cheese) or the "smells" of the book (such as when Oghul Ghaimish is chosen for a bride or when is finally bowing down before the great beki. That's another thing that really makes you feel this book, is her use of the Mongolian words: ger, boqta, khurlatai, etc. This is the kind of book that makes you want to learn more, to look up dates, places events. To learn more about the Mongol people and their culture and their drive to power. This book makes you think about family, about family ties, about sisterhood ties and how those intimate relationships grow deeper with time. Thornton did it again, a historical fiction novel that makes you feel that you are there, fighting along Ghengis during the blood war, you are feeling the bitter cold of the Mongolian steppes during the frigid winters. I love this culture, a culture of people who believe in family. I really would love the life of riding on amazing horses through the mountains. Favorite Quotes Our names have long been lost to time, scatter like ashes into the wind. No one remembers our ability to read the secrets of the oracle bones of the wars fought in our names. The words we wrote have faded from their parchments; the sacrifices we made are no longer recounted in the glittering courts of those we conquered. The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surley as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Renae

    My fairly recent discovery of Stephanie Thornton has been one of the highlights of my historical fiction reading career. Her novels about women forgotten by history are wonderfully written and imagined, and I was absolutely anticipating The Tiger Queens. The women who played a role in Genghis Khan’s life? Absolutely! Unfortunately…I didn’t like this novel nearly as much as the author’s two previous novels. The big issue here is scope: Thornton is trying to accomplish too much. The cast of charact My fairly recent discovery of Stephanie Thornton has been one of the highlights of my historical fiction reading career. Her novels about women forgotten by history are wonderfully written and imagined, and I was absolutely anticipating The Tiger Queens. The women who played a role in Genghis Khan’s life? Absolutely! Unfortunately…I didn’t like this novel nearly as much as the author’s two previous novels. The big issue here is scope: Thornton is trying to accomplish too much. The cast of characters in The Tiger Queens is huge and often difficult to keep track of, and the book has not one self-contained narrative, but four. I feel like there’s enough material here to have filled a trilogy about badass Mongol women, but instead it’s all squished together in one book, and the individual stories of Borte, Alaqai, Fatima, and Sorkhoktani are really not done justice. Because, rather than having a cohesive overarching plot, each “section” of The Tiger Queens has its own plot. So from page 1-165 we have Borte’s story, which is completely self-contained, then we move on to her daughter Alaqai for another 100 pages or so, and so forth. Yes, most characters make appearances more than once, but the tone and narrative focus always shifts drastically. And, really, 100 pages or so is seriously not enough to develop a character, a motive, and a well-reasoned plot. So, for the most part, this book felt rushed, lacking in depth, and surface-level only. And this is super disappointing for me to say, because I truly wanted to get into the stories of these women, but they were just so rushed. Thornton’s two previous books were only about one woman each, and that allowed for a greater depth of character and nuance of storytelling that is simply not possible with a book formatted in this manner. Honestly, I think Borte’s story was the strongest of the four, and I don’t understand at all why Thornton didn’t decide to dedicate 400 pages to her life. The three women who came after her didn’t seem nearly as fully-realized as she did. On the other hand, I do love the uniqueness of Thornton’s writing and how she allows women’s stories to be heard. There’s a lot of fictionalizing going down in The Tiger Queens, but I truly felt that the book captures the spirit and essence of the culture and lives of these people (albeit in a slightly truncated manner). You can always see the amount of research this author puts into her novels, and this book is no different. Sure, I’m disappointed by how this book didn’t live up to its potential or the standard the author has set for herself, but that doesn’t mean this is a bad book. I think The Tiger Queens is a pretty solid example of what Thornton can do, and why I will continue to read and purchase her fiction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tara Chevrestt

    Absolutely superb writing. Perfect blend of description, detail, history, emotion. I love that Ms. Thornton reveals the bad as well as the good. The first part of the story follows Genghis Khan's chief wife from her childhood by her parents' side to adulthood after she's given birth to her own children. I'd heard of Khan (great leader, founder of Mongul empire) before but never really knew who he was. I also knew absolutely nothing about these people or their way of life. This story was education Absolutely superb writing. Perfect blend of description, detail, history, emotion. I love that Ms. Thornton reveals the bad as well as the good. The first part of the story follows Genghis Khan's chief wife from her childhood by her parents' side to adulthood after she's given birth to her own children. I'd heard of Khan (great leader, founder of Mongul empire) before but never really knew who he was. I also knew absolutely nothing about these people or their way of life. This story was educational for me as well as entertaining. We follow his wife as she debates marrying him, knowing her marriage will lead to a great war and a rift between brothers. Through her eyes we see men wrestle for sport, fight for blood, rape and pillage, eat horses, cast bones into fires to see the future. We see a completely different way of life. We see women experience hardships in between preparing meals, beating felt, and bearing children, hardships such as rape and watching their people be slaughtered. Then we meet his young daughter as she also becomes a bride, but to a man who does not want her. Hers is an alliance doomed from the get-go and instead of enjoying her husband, the new bride fears for her life and falls for his son. While I felt no particular fondness for her character in the beginning, I appreciated her a lot toward the end of her tale and wished it were longer, that it didn't end with her giving birth to a son. Then the book moves on to a Persian woman who loses her entire family and city to the Mogolians. And here is where I suddenly had a quibble. At this point in Genghis Khan's life, his grown sons are alcoholics and his empire is being ran and his wars apparently being fought by...ready for this...his daughter and daughters-in-laws. His youngest daughter, Al-Altun is running around with a pregnant belly ordering soldiers to slaughter entire cities. At her side is Toregene, a daughter in law. At some point, the women we met earlier in the story have gone from merely beating rugs and bearing babies to ordering and supervising wars and capturing slaves. Women are literally taking over! His sons are worthless and all the women have taken over to ensure the survival of the empire. Whoo hoo! So what's my quibble? I really, really, really wish this book had had the POV of Al-Altun, the warrior daughter. Or even Toregene. I'd have liked to have see how these women suddenly went from beating rugs and bearing babies to taking over their husbands' duties. To me, that's the good stuff. Full review and final thoughts: http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2014/...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heather C

    The Tiger Queens is broken up into four parts with each part being narrated by a different women from Genghis Khan’s tribe. This divide into parts is designed to move the reader through over 80 years of time and I think this works well stylistically as each story picks up about where the prior one left off giving the reader a continuity. While these women couldn’t be more different, I like them for different reasons. They are strong, but in their own ways. Borte has seen and been subjected to a The Tiger Queens is broken up into four parts with each part being narrated by a different women from Genghis Khan’s tribe. This divide into parts is designed to move the reader through over 80 years of time and I think this works well stylistically as each story picks up about where the prior one left off giving the reader a continuity. While these women couldn’t be more different, I like them for different reasons. They are strong, but in their own ways. Borte has seen and been subjected to a lot in her life and that is where she draws her strength from. Alaqai has been pretty much a tom-boy and the Khan’s favorite child, so she got away with a lot growing up, but now must use her skills in a new land amongst people who basically hate her. Fatima, who was taken as a slave, and must learn to deal with her captors. Sorkhokhtani, the quiet, one who takes everything in and then does everything she can to keep her family in power. There is a wide cast of characters here, but the author has done a great job of giving you enough information about each one to make them whole – even the more periphery characters. The best scenes in my opinion are the times when these women are all together. There is a great scene that stands out for me while reading this novel. All of the daughters (by blood, marriage, and adoption) of Genghis Khan spend time really getting to know each other while discussing what to expect upon two of the girls marrying in the very near future. It was funny, sweet, and solidified the sisterly bonds. It actually broke my heart to see these women have to break up and go the separate ways of their new families after this heart-to-heart moment. I think that was when I really started to enjoy the book – not that it wasn’t an enjoyable read up until that point. It is obvious that the author has done a great deal of research on the topic of Genghis Khan and the Mongols and the groups that they interacted with along the way. This is an area of the world where I have virtually little knowledge going into this novel. She does an excellent job of weaving even the smallest details into the novel so that the world they live in feels palpable to the reader without it ever feeling overburdened with detail. A great balance of show and tell. The novel had a little bit of a slow start for me, but quickly picked up and didn’t slow down straight through to the end and left me wanting to know more about these incredible women. This review was previously posted at The Maiden's Court blog.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Stockard Miller

    Stephanie Thornton has earned herself a permanent place in my roster of favorite historical fiction authors. I mean, is there anything this woman can't write!? As she did with her first two novels, The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods, once again she has created another strong and heroic female character. And not only do we have the strong central character of Borte, but we have the other "women of Genghis Khan" who were also strong and heroic in their own right. In The Tiger Queens, we ge Stephanie Thornton has earned herself a permanent place in my roster of favorite historical fiction authors. I mean, is there anything this woman can't write!? As she did with her first two novels, The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods, once again she has created another strong and heroic female character. And not only do we have the strong central character of Borte, but we have the other "women of Genghis Khan" who were also strong and heroic in their own right. In The Tiger Queens, we get to hear the story of the women behind the legend of Genghis Khan. As any person who is obsessed with history, I have long been interested in Genghis Khan and his exploits. Now with this book, we get a glimpse of the inner workings of his life and who was really influential to him. Although this book is not non-fiction, it is so finely researched that I felt I was learning history along the way. And I always say that one of historical fiction's jobs is to spark enough interest in the reader to spur them into seeking more information on the subject, whether that be learning about it online or reading books about it. This book has definitely done that and then some! And returning back to the character of Borte. Despite being read a prophecy by her mother that she would be responsible for great destruction in the future, Borte seeks to overcome this foretelling and bands together with the other tiger queens to ensure the happiness of their family, and the greatness of their people. Who doesn't love a character who overcomes adversity for the greater good? I know I do! With The Tiger Queens, Thornton has firmly secured her place as one of the historical fiction greats. The glorious thing is knowing that she is hard at work on her next novel. I cannot wait for it! Please, if you have not read her books, take it from me. If you love historical fiction, or even just a great, well-told story, this is the author for you.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Our names have long been lost to time, scattered like ashes into the wind. No one remembers our ability to read the secrets of the oracle bones or the wars fought in our names. The words we wrote have faded from their parchments; the sacrifices we made are no longer recounted in the glittering courts of those we conquered. The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surely as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur. I previously read Daug Our names have long been lost to time, scattered like ashes into the wind. No one remembers our ability to read the secrets of the oracle bones or the wars fought in our names. The words we wrote have faded from their parchments; the sacrifices we made are no longer recounted in the glittering courts of those we conquered. The deeds of our husbands, our brothers, and our sons have eclipsed our own as surely as when the moon ate the sun during the first battle of Nishapur. I previously read Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt and vowed that I must get my hands on all of Stephanie Thornton's books ASAP. Not only does Thornton make history come alive, but her female protagonists are intelligent, fierce, and know how to leave their marks in the world of men. Let's also give her credence for telling the tales of female characters that aren't Western European. No,instead the heart of this story takes centre stage in Mongolia during the time of the Khans. Readers are presented with four narrators who each have their story to share. Borte, is the primary wife of Genghis Khan; tomboyish Alaqai, daughter of Genghis and Borte, Fatima, the Persian woman that is taken as a slave and later becomes a respected advisor, and lastly the "Princess of the Hearth" daughter in law Sorkhoktani, mother of eventual Mongol ruler, Kublai Khan. These women stand together during times of war and peace and prove to all why the women who surrounded Genghis Khan need to re-emerge from the shadows that they have long been sent to.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    I found this book coincidentally while reading The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, and I am very impressed by how well this historical fiction novel holds up against that non-fiction account and how many connections the author made to the actual history. Her strategy of telling the stories of these four women in first person is really well-done. It got pretty dark towards the end (as the history does), but I wished it had kept going because I wanted to read Khutulun and Mandahai’s stories t I found this book coincidentally while reading The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, and I am very impressed by how well this historical fiction novel holds up against that non-fiction account and how many connections the author made to the actual history. Her strategy of telling the stories of these four women in first person is really well-done. It got pretty dark towards the end (as the history does), but I wished it had kept going because I wanted to read Khutulun and Mandahai’s stories too!

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