The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan

Written by Stephanie Thornton
Review by Andrea Connell

At almost 500 pages, a book of this size could either offer a gripping tale that consumes or become a devastating disappointment to trudge through. Luckily The Tiger Queens is decidedly of the former category!

Temujin’s (who later named himself Genghis [The Great] Khan) rise to power, the building and maintaining of his empire, and the legacy he leaves to his progeny are all bolstered by the women in his life, and they narrate the story from three very different perspectives. Borte is his first and most adored wife; Alaqai, his strong, wild daughter; and finally, Fatima is a Persian captive from one of the Khan’s campaigns. Opportunities were limited for these Mongolian women, of course, yet they had strong roles to play that would help determine the success or demise of a kingdom.

The novel is written in beautiful, earthy, and completely accessible prose which is easy to get lost in. A cast of characters list is included (thankfully!) as well as a map of the great empire. From the title, the reader may assume these three “women of Genghis Khan” are all related by marriage or blood to the great warrior, but the third section, narrated by the Persian slave, seemed a little out of place; her connection to the family was tenuous until she decided to offer her loyalty to them. This is not a woman “of” the Khan. But that is nitpicking because, as a whole, this novel is an absorbing read – classic historical fiction at its best.