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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Lords of the Black Banner: A Mongolian Epic (Fractured Empire Saga Book 2) by Starr Z. Davies is exactly what the title implies: a true epic of Mongolian life, death, treachery, and an empire in decline, carefully held together by a cobbled alliance of Mongolian tribes who swear their allegiance to the current Great Khan, Manduul. The days of the great Mongolian Empire and its ruthless leader Genghis Khan are but faded memories in the Mongolian legends and the last of the blood of Genghis Khan resides in the current Khan, Manduul. But there is no clear, direct descendant on which the mantle of the next Khan should settle. Manduul’s second wife, Mandukhai, is determined to ensure that her lover, Unebolod, the sworn brother of Manduul and leader of the northern armies, is named the next Khan.
Lords of the Black Banner is a devastatingly accurate portrayal of Mongolian life, culture, and beliefs that will open up a whole new appreciation of a society that few readers will probably have delved into before. Author Starr Z. Davies has created a truly exciting and enthralling tale. To read in the historical notes that many of the events and circumstances portrayed in this novel are recorded facts was quite astounding. This, for me, is what elevates the story well above the usual 15th-century novels I have read recently. I absolutely love it when a novel provides breathtaking action, gruesome and realistic portrayals in a beautiful, readable manner that gives the reader an education as well as entertainment. The author’s style is richly descriptive, free-flowing, and empathetic to not only the heroes of the story but also to the villains of the piece. I particularly loved the detail the author dedicated to recording the everyday life of the Mongol people, their tribal structures, their customs, their gods, and their legends. I came away from this book knowing much more about how the Mongols managed to rise to such prominence in the early part of the millennium, as well as why their empire ultimately fell. I recommend this author to readers and I will be checking out more of her work myself.