Review by Ann McDonald
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.
Author Stephanie Thornton tells her readers straight out that the story of these women is fiction, which is a remarkable feat in itself and she has of course, researched her material in a most meticulous fashion. In her prologue, a couple of lines at the end it states “It matters not how we died, only one thing matters: that we lived.” And when you read how they lived and what they had to do in order to survive for their husbands and children, you will understand much. The story begins in 1171 AD where we meet Borte, the ten year-old daughter of a seer named Chotan. A hunter arrives with his own ten year-old son, Temujin, who eventually becomes Genghis Khan and they are betrothed to each other.
The boy stays with Borte’s family until he hears word that his father is dying and he must go home. He promises Borte that he will come back and claim her but it takes seven long years for that to happen so in the meantime, you live the life of her people while she waits and you become part of the traditions of her tribe. She marries Temujin and meets Jamuka, her husband’s blood brother who has feelings for her but she remains true. Along the way she is kidnapped and taken to wife by a raider and is raped and then finally rescued but finds she is with child. Temujin asks if the child is his or if it belongs to the raider who raped her and she lies, by stating that she does not know.
Her husband then claims the child his own to placate the people so they won’t cast her out of the tribe. We meet down the years, all the magnificent women throghout his life and the wars and conquests and the blood and the breaking of friendships vows. It is very bloody and author Stephanie Thornton has a truly unique gift of creating wonderful back stories. The book encompasses the entire life of Genghis Khan right up to his death. You will love this history as it is very well-written and I was moved to tears on more than one occasion. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to review this book and it will not be forgotten. You will love Borte and all the tenacious women and wonder if you could have done things differently. Very highly recommended.
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