What if the safety of your family and the future of your people depended on you, a woman? If you lived in the early 1200s in Mongolia, it could have happened. From reading the oracles to wielding a bow and arrow in the heat of battle, the women of Genghis Khan's Mongol Empire did it all.
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.—The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton (Penguin Random House / NAL, 2014, p. 1)
Yet without us, there would have been no empire for our men to claim, no clan of the Thirteen Hordes left to lead, and no tales of victory to sing to the Eternal Blue Sky.
- Setting: turn of the 13th century; Mongolia and beyond
- Circumstances: The rise of Genghis Khan's empire as seen through the eyes of four women. This telling focuses on the women and the part they played in building and maintaining the great Khan's power.
- Characters: Borte, Genghis Khan's chief wife; Alaqai, their daughter; Sorkhoktani, a widowed mother of four boys she grooms to serve the empire; Fatima, a Persian noblewoman enslaved by the Mongols; Genghis and his brothers; many other families, warriors, and enemies
- Genre: historical fiction
- General information: The story covers three generations; each part is told by a different woman, who played a significant and unique role in the Mongol Empire. Thornton is known for her deep research and vivid period details; these were a warring people, and the battles aren't pretty.
- A personal note: I love this time period and find Genghis and the rise of the Mongol Empire fascinating. Both the Khan and the women in his life were smart, fierce, and power hungry. If you've never thought to read about this era, let The Tiger Queens be your gateway book.
- Recommendation: Historical fiction lovers are the obvious first readers of Thornton's latest novel, but anyone who likes to read about real-life powerful women and/or who wants to know about the rise of one of the most feared empires in the ancient world will be hooked.
- Book club alert: the back of the book contains nine thoughtful questions to jump-start your discussion, though I doubt you'd have any trouble finding plenty to talk about.
- A bigger sneak peek: You can read the entire prologue and chapter one on Stephanie Thornton's website.
Thanks to NAL and Penguin Random House, I can offer one of my readers with a U.S. mailing address a copy of The Tiger Queens. To enter for a chance to win, just fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via random number generator on November 12. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll erase all personal information from computer. Good luck!