Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Read: November 2, 2014

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.

═══════════════════════════ ❧  ═══════════════════════════

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. 

═══════════════════════════ ❧  ═══════════════════════════
It was our destiny to love these men, to suffer their burden and shoulder their sorrows, to bring them into this world, red-faced and squalling and tuck their bones into the earth when they abandoned us for the sacred mountains, leaving us behind to fight their wars and protect their Spirit Banners. 
═══════════════════════════ ❧  ═══════════════════════════

Check Out All the Stops on Stephanie Thornton's The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, November 1
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Sunday, November 2
Monday, November 3
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, November 4
Wednesday, November 5
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 6
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, November 7
Review at Scandalous Women
Monday, November 10
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, November 11
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Monday, November 17
Review at Turning the Pages
Tuesday, November 18
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, November 19
Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, November 20
Review at Layered Pages
Friday, November 21
Monday, November 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Tuesday, November 25
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, November 26
Friday, November 28
Review at Book Babe


Larry Zuckerman said...

If Thornton has spun a narrative with four distinct voices, then that's an accomplishment indeed. I just finished reading The First of July by Elizabeth Speller, who tried that and failed.

Amy Bruno said...

I loved your review, Erin! I am not that far in yet, but I agree 100% with your feelings on the prologue...it's stunningly written and gives you a glimpse of the journey you are about to take!

Thanks for hosting Stephanie's tour!

HF Virtual Book Tours

Anonymous said...

It's definitely worth a look Larry!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Wow. Great review and recommendations. I'm not familiar with the author, but I definitely want to read this one!