The Tiger Queens

The Tiger Queens

The Women of Genghis Khan

Book - 2014
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"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."--
Publisher: New York, New York :, New American Library, published by the Penguin Group,, [2014]
ISBN: 9780451417800
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 486 pages : map ; 22 cm


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Nov 01, 2015

Reading this, I thought of Cecelia Holland's historical novel "After the Sun Falls," about the same subject, which I've read several times. That book, written about 1970, I'd give 5 stars. Holland's many historical novels, mostly stand-alone, are very plot driven. This, the first of Thornton's I've read, is very character driven. The two types aren't total opposites, and both aspects are necessary. It's been a while since I've read "After the Sun Falls," and this book makes me want to read it again. As I remember, Holland doesn't stress the place of women. In a totally male dominated culture, Thornton makes highly believable the influence several of Genghis Khan's wives and daughters have on his personality and behavior. He often treats women reprehensibly, yet can be tender and respectful of their gifts and talents. Brutal in war, he can make careful decisions to build peace. Often this involves marriage alliances; he marries into his enemies' families, and marries his daughters into their families. While the women have no choice in the matter, Genghis Khan, unlike many of the other men in the story, is very aware that they don't have a choice. He strives to cushion the effects of the lack of choice. This doesn't make him a modern man, simply capable of loving the women in his life. They often love him fiercely. That makes him as complex as the women in the story. The beginning reads like a young adult story, losing its fifth star, for me. Before long, however, it becomes much more complex, and I was totally immersed in this world so different from our own. It's very violent, so be forewarned. Even so, highly recommended.

The description, on the book jacket, is slightly inaccurate. It takes place in the 13th c. not the 12th. The Mongols call themselves simply "People of the Felt." They live in felt yurts, and wear felt clothes the women make. Walls imply cities, anathema to them.


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