“Forger of Empire: A Novel of Genghis Khan” by Jeanne Blanchet

Jeanne Blanchet
Outskirts Press (2019)
ISBN 9781977203274
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (10/2019)

Jeanne Blanchet’s “Forger of Empire: A Novel of Genghis Khan,” tells the story of Temujin, a boy who was born with a blood clot clutched in his hand during the 12th Century in Mongolia.  As a boy, Temujin experiences hardship after being separated from his family during a trip.  He is labelled as a pariah after the death of his elder, bully of a brother, and becomes a slave.  Despite his rough upbringing, however, Temujin finds love, retribution, and his destiny as a leader.

Jeanne Blanchet’s novel is rife with details. Genghis Khan is one of history’s most famous actors, yet, I found as I read the book that I did not really know that much about how he became “The” Genghis Khan.  I think sometimes it is easy for us to forget that these kinds of historical figures were not born as the famous, larger-than-life figures we learn about in textbooks and History Channel documentaries.  They all had to grow up and find their footing in life first. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Blanchet’s novel.  I found the character of Temujin to be relatable, even though he had to go through things that I can never even imagine.  The emotions he feels, particularly after the kidnapping of his wife by an enemy tribe shortly after their marriage, reiterate the notion that history is driven not by facts and words, but by human agency and feelings. 

Something else that I thought was done well in the novel was how the pacing of the story went.  Each chapter is marked with a year, to help readers remember what point of Khan’s story they are at.  In big, historical retellings like this, it can be easy for readers to get lost in the timeline of the life of a figure such as Genghis Khan, but the pacing of Blanchet’s “Forger of Empire” stayed consistent through the book. 

Going into the book, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting.  I think I was expecting more of a biographical tone to the prose, but I found that the story was easy to follow and flowed well.  Despite the historical focus of the subject matter, this is definitely a book that can be enjoyed by a general audience.  With that being said, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has any interest in world history or is looking to be immersed in a story filled with adventure.  This is a story that, most importantly, helps us remember that no matter the circumstances of our birth or how we are raised, we are the agents of our own destinies as long as we find the motivation to want to be.

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