Images of Genghis Khan riding across the steppes of Asia, making the Mongol name one to fear and of Marco Polo’s voyage to the court of Kublai Khan are what come to mind when the Mongol Empire is discussed. This one-dimensional, patriarchal vision of this part of history is shattered by Stephanie Thornton’s The Tiger Queens.
Thornton is the author of the acclaimed novels The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods, which center around Empress Theodora and Pharaoh Hatshepsut, respectively.
In The Tiger Queens, we see the lives of 4 women who changed the face of the Mongols, and the world.
First, we meet Borte, who triumphs over great tragedies done unto her to become the first Great Khatun of the Mongols.
Next, we get to know Alaqai, a strong woman who can shoot an arrow much better than even most of the men in the Mongol Army. She makes great personal sacrifices, ones of love, safety, and family to strengthen the People of the Felt.
Third, we become accustomed with Fatima, a Persian captive who loses the love of her life to Mongol invasion. Her yearning for revenge is transformed into compassion when she finds new love in the form of family.
Finally, we end with Sorkhorkhtani. Underestimated from birth, her contributions to the Mongols is only bested by Genghis Khan himself.
I really appreciate how each of the women are an aspects of women’s spirits. Borte is the part that can triumph over the odds, Alaqai shows the sacrifices women make, Fatima portrays the compassion women have, and Sorkhorkhtani shows the leadership and patience women can wield.
The Tiger Queens shows the evolution of Thornton’s writing like nothing else could. Starting out as an excellent writer, she is making great strides in its development, and is becoming one of the best historical fiction writers of our generation.
The visuals and spiritualness displayed throughout this novel are unrivaled. Thornton does not shy away from the blood and gore on the battlefields, but balances this with the love by the women for their husbands, children, and people to show the Mongols in a fair light.
Overall, The Tiger Queens is an achievement. It shows us how powerful the Mongol women truly were, and the impact they still have on our world. It puts to rest the tip of the iceberg knowledge that is commonly known of the Mongols to show a history full of gore and tolerance, revenge and compassion. It revolutionizes the way we see the People of the Felt, and for the better.
Stephanie Thornton- Author Bio:
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 hit the shelves November 4, 2014, and The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great will be available in November 2015.
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
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