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.
The Tiger Queens, Synopsis~
Genre: Historical Fiction
In the late twelfth century on the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, following a violent feud between blood brothers, the victor Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself Genghis Khan. But behind one powerful man stand many strong women…
After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, darkness looms over Borte’s life. She becomes an outcast among her clan and after seeking comfort in the arms of an aristocratic traveler, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man she was betrothed to years ago but who abandoned her long before they could marry. And he will only leave her behind again.
Temujin will make Borte his khatun, his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new empire. Their daughter, a fierce girl named Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, seeks revenge against the Mongol barbarians who destroyed her city and murdered her family, but in the end will sacrifice everything to protect the Golden Family. Demure widow to Genghis’ son, Sorkhokhtani positions her sons to inherit the Empire when it begins to fracture from within.
As Genghis Khan sets out to expand his conquests and the steppes run red with blood, Borte and the women of the clan will fight, love, scheme, and sacrifice, all for the good of their family and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls…
Praise for The Tiger Queens~
“A gripping epic of sacrifice, revenge, and conquest…kept me riveted from beginning to end!”
–Michelle Moran, bestselling author of The Second Empress
“From under the felted ger tents of Genghis Kahn emerge four powerful women. It is a testament to Thornton’s writing prowess that she can so intricately whittle heroines that are both compassionate and ruthless from the bones of our ancestors…a stunning achievement!”
— Barbara Wood, New York Times bestselling author of The Serpent and the Staff and Rainbows on the Moon
“A vivid depiction of warrior women tough as the harsh, windswept steppes which nurtured them and who, as the warring Mongol clans battle for supremacy, survive… to ensure their men emerge the victors. Gripping stuff!”
–Alex Rutherford, author of the Empire of the Moghul series
“A sprawling historical saga centering on the wives and daughters of Genghis Khan. These bold, courageous women make tremendous sacrifices in the face of danger, revenge and high-stakes survival, all in the name of family love and loyalty. Be prepared to be swept away by Thornton’s richly drawn epic of an empire and its generational shifts of power.”
–Renee Rosen, author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants
“They were the Golden Family of Genghis Khan. Yet their lives were anything but golden as they struggled to hold together the very center of the largest empire the world has ever known. An empire that was built in one lifetime, and would have been destroyed in the next had it not been for the wives and daughters of the Great Khan. This is historical fiction at its finest.”
— Gary Corby, author of The Marathon Conspiracy
“Three generations of strong women live, love, suffer, and triumph in a fresh and gritty setting—Genghis Khan’s forging of an empire in thirteenth century Mongolia. Marginalized in most histories, these Mongol mothers and daughters, empresses and slaves, claim their voices again in Stephanie Thornton’s The Tiger Queens. Unusual and imaginative!”
–Elizabeth Loupas, author of The Second Duchess and The Red Lily Crown
“Stunning. The Tiger Queens sweeps the reader into the ruthless world of Genghis Khan’s wives and daughters with a gritty realism as intense as the eternal blue sky and blood-soaked steppes. Vivid characterization and top-notch writing. This story of strong women, their enduring friendships and passions give a rare glimpse into a shadowy period of history. A worthy successor to Taylor Caldwell’s The Earth is the Lord’s.”
–Judith E. French, author of The Conqueror, The Barbarian, and The Warrior
Buy the Book~
Author Stephanie Thornton, Biography~
Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.
The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt are available from NAL/Penguin.
The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan will hit the shelves November 4, 2014, followed by The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great in November 2015.
Follow her Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thetigerqueensblogtour/
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