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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Jeanne Blanchet's novel Forger of Empire: A Novel of Genghis Khan is historical fiction based on the life of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire and one of the greatest conquerors in history. The fictional life story of Temujin is set in the same time frame from 1162 to 1227 CE. Temujin's early years are ones of extreme hardship after his father is killed and he and his family become homeless. He is determined to survive and becomes an expert in horsemanship and wilderness survival, and values courage, loyalty, and friendship. He rejoins his clan and breaks with Mongolian traditions by building a political and military structure based on merit rather than clan lineage and kinship. Eventually, he unites all of the Mongolian clans. A brilliant commander, he conquers lands beyond Mongolia.
Forger of Empire is rich in detail and imagination. I liked Blanchet's portrayal of Temujin's complex and extraordinary character and life. Blanchet brings together different aspects of Mongolian life to portray Temujin's thinking and feelings, his family life, his emphasis on ability, courage, and loyalty; and his remorse at the terrible massacres and brutality in his military campaigns. This brings out vividly and powerfully his growing maturity as an individual and as the Great Khan of the Mongolian Empire. As the empire expands, Temujin recognizes the need to protect its fragile peace. He draws spiritual strength from his beliefs in the Sky Father, is open-minded and protects religious freedom. His keen intellectual curiosity leads him to new fields of learning, to open schools and to establish a written Mongolian language. Blanchet ends her novel with a haiku dedicated to the Golden Genghis Khan. An immersive novel that turned into a thought-provoking one for me.