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review 2016-05-12 04:48
The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton
The Tiger Queens - Stephanie Thornton

I'm sure no book quite like this has ever been written before.

"I still carry the curse I once warned you of," [Borte] finally said. "Would you bring a storm of death onto the steppes?"

Temujin shrugged. "My strength in battle has already been tested. With you as my wife I will become a great and powerful khan, and our children will multiply and rule from the Great Lake to the Great Dry Sea."

Tiger Queens is a historical epic that stretches almost eighty years from 1171 C.E. to 1248 C.E. Timeline wise, the one that most of us are most familiar with anyway, this starts with the future nine-year-old Genghis Khan and ends with the crowning of his grandson Mongke Khan, placed three years earlier than the historical date for plot purposes.

But first and foremost, this story is one that belongs to the women. Which is why I read it (duh). They say that behind every great man is a great woman, and if this book isn't a splendid homage to that then I don't know what is.

Four perspectives placed one after another in succession: Borte Ujin, Genghis's empress; Alaqai, their youngest daughter; Fatima, a Persian captive; and Sorkhokhtani, Borte's daughter-in-law and mother of Mongke and Kublai Khan. The overarching plot driver is Genghis himself--who against all odds, survives his childhood, defeats his rival Jamuka, and unites the steppes before looking outward for civilizations to bring under his rule. But at home, it is the women who make sure his kingdom stays intact, and band together to rescue it when his male successors find themselves at each others' throats for the throne of the Mongol Empire.

The scope necessarily makes it an extremely fast-moving book, which is part of the appeal. The passage of time literally almost feels like the wind, quite appropriate considering how quickly the Mongol Empire consolidated itself from a group of scattered nomad clans to the largest contiguous empire in history. Time is especially condensed towards the last third of the book during Fatima's perspective. As the only foreigner in the group of four, her view is important because it's such an emotionally transitional one: as a new captive she's repulsed by the Mongols' barbarian savagery, before years and years pass and her thirst for revenge changes to the loyalty of a sisterhood.

Childless, and without a mother, father, or husband, I had no one in this world. Yet Toregene had been by my side for half my life, a sister not of blood, but of circumstance.

Second to Fatima, the most fascinating perspective for me was the first one, Borte's. I'm quite intrigued by Thornton's use of prophecy as an accurate plot predictor of death and destruction. It's definitely not enough to call it a fantastical element, but it's so eerily woven into the structure of the plot. Blessed with the gift of foresight, Borte sees that she'll precipitate a bloody war on the steppes, and this does indeed come true with Genghis's conflict with his blood brother Jamuka. Borte's POV also gives the largest coverage on the theme of sexuality, dynamics of gender, and the astonishing cruelty inflicted on women of defeated clans. With every conquest of her husband, there is looting and there is rape. Men are killed while women are absorbed, some whose new families extinguish the desire for revenge, some whose marriages give them newfound power comparable to that of their husbands'.

Alaqai's and Sorkhokhtani's stories are mainly ones of survival--the last ones standing. I should give a warning as Sorkhokhtani's section is surprisingly short, only taking up the last 60 pages or so compared to the hundreds of pages devoted to the three other women. It's no less important for that, in part because it was such a momentous point in history, and everything I'd ever assumed about Mongke and Kublai Khan as historical figures gets turned upside down when I realize that there was a mother behind the scenes biding her time and pulling strings. Thornton's author note at the end provides additional information. I'm more convinced than ever of Thornton's central principle--that the great men of history could never have accomplished what they did on their own without the help of women.

In sum, if Borte Ujin, Alaqai, Fatima, Sorkhokhtani, and Genghis Khan themselves were to time-travel to the present and read this book, I'm certain they'd be nodding their heads in enthusiastic approval.

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text 2015-12-30 21:46
My favorite Books of 2015!
The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great - Stephanie Thornton
A Year of Ravens: a novel of Boudica's Rebellion - SJA Turney,Russell Whitfield,Stephanie Dray,Kate Quinn,Vicky Alvear Shecter,Ben Kane,E.E. Knight,Ruth Downie
Rebel Queen: A Novel - Michelle Moran
Lady of the Eternal City (The Empress of Rome Book 4) - Kate Quinn
Hominid - R.D. Brady
Harpazo: The Intra-Seal Rapture of the Church - James Jacob Prasch
The Voyage of the Sun God - Susan Llewellyn
By Ted Dekker A.D. 30: A Novel [Hardcover] - Ted Dekker
The Veil: A Novel...of Current Biblical Proportions - DJ Edmonston,Rick Brown
The Days of Noah: Book One: Conspiracy (Volume 1) - Mark Goodwin

It's hard to just pick out 10 top books, so I wanted to also add the following:


Imhotep The Imhotep Series by Jerry Dubbs


Fall of the House of Ramesses, Book 1: Merenptah The Fall of the House of Ramesses series by Max Overton


Cannibal (Chess Team Adventure, #7) Cannibal by Jeremy Robinson


Enoch: A Bigfoot Story Enoch: A Bigfoot Story by Autumn Williams


Maximus Maximus by Richard Black


All in all, I've read 273 books, (although I will probably get another 1 or 2 in before midnight on the 31st). That's approximately 67,628 pages!


Little Lamb The shortest book read: Little Lamb by Joseph Black  (12 pages)


The King's Favorite (Thutmose series book 2) The longest book read: The King's Favorite (Thutmose series Book 2) by L.S. Fischer  (856 pages)


Fahrenheit 451 The most popular: Fahrenheit 451


A Long Haul: The Journal Of A Serial Killer The least popular: A Long Haul: The Journal of a Serial Killer (which I only gave 2 stars...hey it was a freebie!)


Final count as of today:


67 of the books were 5 stars

79 of the books were 4 stars

84 of the books were 3 stars

24 of the books were 2 stars

13 of the books were 1 stars


and 5 of them I DNF'd.


Not a bad year! Here's looking at 2016!!

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review 2015-12-30 02:55
The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton
The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great - Stephanie Thornton

I've been a big fan of this author's work ever since I read, "A Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora". She has the ability to pull you right into a story and makes you feel as if you were a part of the unfolding drama.


This a the story of Alexander the Great told from the differing perspectives of a couple of characters in his life. There is Hephaestion- his close friend, warrior, and occasional lover; Roxanne- his first wife who will do anything in her power to stay that way; Drypetis- the captured daughter of King Darius; and Thessalonike- Alexander's fierce half sister. Each viewpoint shows a different side of Alexander so that as a whole, we can fully appreciate who he was and the many people who made him such a mighty conqueror. Stephanie has done a fantastic job in immersing us into that time, especially with her attention to the historical records/ details of that period.


Alexander Alexander (movie) Alexander the Great Colin Farrell ancient


I highly recommend this book, and all of her books, to the historical fiction fans out there and to others who want to try a genre outside of their comfort zone. This one will be one of my top picks of the year.


5 stars

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review 2015-12-11 00:00
The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great
The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great - Stephanie Thornton This isn’t an era I know much about and for some reason I’ve never been very interested in Alexander. But I’ve heard so much good about Thornton’s books that I jumped at this. And good thing that I did!

The story is told from four points of views: his sister Thessalonike, his friend and sometime lover Hephaestion and wives Roxana and Drypetis, Everyone is very different so we get 4 interesting perspectives. These were strong women who knew what they wanted and were ready to fight for it, by any means necessary. And then there was Alexander’s mother Olympias who sadly wasn’t POV character. She was ruthless, calculating and ready to do anything to get Alexander into power. It would have been great to know her motives for doing things she did.

We don’t get Alexander in a very good view but we see better side of him through Thessalonike’s eyes. But Roxana I loathed. She was the only character I hated and kept hoping something bad happens to her… My favourite was Hephaestion and I might have had a bit of a crush on him… I don’t care to imagine how much more destruction Alexander might have done without Hephaestion holding him back and trying to be a voice of reason.

This was amazing book and it definitely won’t be the last! I need to move Daughter of the Gods up my TBR list.
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review 2015-12-10 18:38
Alexander the Great
The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great - Stephanie Thornton
Alexander the Great was the King of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon in the 300's BC. He was a great military man, having virtually no losses in battle. Alexander conquered Persia in the battles of Issus and Gaugamela. A lot of cities were named after him and becoming one of the most influential men in history.
 Hephaestion, the son of a Macedon nobleman, was Alexander's friend and close advisor and he plays a pivotal role in this story. Hephaestion and Alexander were friends throughout their lives. He married Drypteis and became part of the royal family.
Drypteis was the daughter of Stateira I and Darius III of Persia. Her family which included her mother, her sister Stateira, and her grandmother Sisygambis were captured by Alexander and kept with him for a great period of time. Even though Darius III tried on numerous occasions to ransom his family, he was not successful.
Roxana was a Bactrian princess and wife to Alexander. It was rumored that she killed  Stateira II. After Alexander's death, she gave birth to Alexander.
Olympias was queen consort to Phillip II and Alexander's mother. She was a very influential woman of her time.
Thessalonike was a princess of Macedon and step daughter of Olympias who raised her after her mother died, therefore, she was also a half-sister to Alexander.
These characters from history along with many more make this novel a treat to read, it brought back a lot of memories of Greek history to me as I had alway loved this period in history. I read a lot of Greek history in high school. This novel is impeccably researched by the author and she is definitely well versed in this time period. I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel that I have read of Stephanie Thornton and intend to read more.
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