Friday, September 9, 2016

The Tiger Queens - Stephanie Thornton

The Tiger Queens
Title: The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan
Author: Stephanie Thornton
Publication Date: 11/4/14
Pages: 486
Genre: Historical / Royals / Fiction
How I Found It: I won it in a giveaway!
Date Completed: 7/25/16

Summary: Genghis Khan is a familiar name in history. But what about the women in his life? The Tiger Queens follows the stories of four different women who lived in the shadow of the Mongol conqueror.

What I Thought: I won this book in a giveaway about a million years ago. A signed copy showed up at my house with a truly lovely note from the author herself. Thus, the fact it has taken me this long to finish and review makes me feel more than a little guilty.

I'm not really sure what happened. Last summer, I flew through the first section. The story of Khan's first wife was very interesting to me. I know very little about that period or place in history so even the small details about housing or daily tasks fascinated me. It looked like I would have the book done before summer's end. Then, I hit the second section and suddenly there was a new voice, a new protagonist, a new host of characters to learn. And I got stalled. Summer ended and the book made its way back onto the physical TBR in my office as school started and things got busier. I would pick it up every now and then and make it a few pages or a chapter. Never far, though.

Fast forward to this summer. As I pulled books to take to the beach, I knew it was time to tackle this one once and for all. Into the bag it went and, after a couple of days poolside, I had finished. I am glad I didn't let this one fall completely by the wayside. It's not a masterpiece, but I did enjoy it. I think my midsection delay really came from the switch of character perspective. I found the first narrator to be the most compelling and the switch to number two really through me off. 

For a historical personage who most of us know by name, I was surprised to realize how little I actually know about Genghis Khan, his life, his achievements, and his historical context. So much of the information here was new to me. As you know I usually don't love historical fiction because I get irritated with the blurred line between fact and fiction. Thornton's work, however, was a great entry into this world for me. Because I know so little about the time and personages involved, I was able to immerse myself in the story and only be mildly distracted by what was and was not historically accurate.

Of course, Thornton herself admits that there is little historical information to go on at all here. We know some about Khan, his sons, and the empire they raised and razed. The women are largely left out of the history, as so many women have been throughout the centuries. So, it's easy to grant Thornton a wide berth for imagination.  

Thornton has done a number of these historical fiction novels and they have all looked interesting to me. I do wish this was not the first one I had picked up. As I said, the change in voice threw me. I think that her other books, which mostly focus on just one woman, will be a better fit for me. I love that she is writing about women who have gotten such little time on the historical stage. I learned so much from this book; I am excited to pick up another of her works and learn more. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely

A Reduced Review: Though the abrupt change in narration threw me each time, I found Thornton's writing interesting and exciting. Plus, learning about a relatively unknown historical era is always fun for me.

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