book review: The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis KhanThe Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Tiger Queens” covers the lives of four influential women in Genghis Khan’s life–his first wife, Borte; one of his daughters, Alaqai; a Persian captive, Fatima; and one of his daughters-in-law, Sorkhokhtani. By doing so, the book covers the life of Genghis Khan as well as what takes place after his death, as his empire is in danger of crumbling. The book is divided into 4 mini-books, each one covering the life of one of the four main characters.
I liked this book tremendously. The writing is fluid and easy to read. The characters are well drawn. The author does not shy away from the brutality of the Mongol conquests, although the scenes of brutality and violence are drawn with maximum impact and minimal gratuitous desire. Clearly, for this period in time, the many gaps of historical knowledge have to be filled in with the author’s best guesses, but she does so convincingly and tells a compelling story. The large cast of characters with unfamiliar names can be a bit confusing, but there is a list to help keep the names straight. The author also uses historical names for various places, so it is easy to underestimate the breadth of the Mongol empire if you don’t pay attention to the map. My only other complaint is that the book ended too soon–I would very much like to have learned about Kublai Khan’s story as well!
For those interested in this time period of history, I highly recommend this book!

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