The author does an amazing job of potraying the gritty, brutal world that spawned Genghis. Focusing on the future conqueror's childhood and teen years, the book skillfully explores the events, influences and motivations that made Genghis who he was. Though often gruesome and bloody, the grisly details are not superfluous but part of the larger picture of the Mongol culture. Even for one who has read much about Genghis, this book was still enlightening and informative.
I just finished this marvelous epic, and I have goosebumps. I've read many Romanov accounts both fictional and non-fictional, so is there really anything else to learn? Yes. Sharp tells the story through the lens of a prima ballerina merging the world of the stage with the stage of royal life. The main character, while at times petty and arrogant, demonstrates wit and resourcefulness that makes her ultimately a worthy heroine. The prose is approachable, vivid and occasionally brilliant but not pretentiously so, which is quite refreshing. The reader does a fine job, except I would have preferred an English or European accent. Somehow this exotic world isn't fully realized by American accents. Still, a five-star literary experience.
The rags to riches and back again story of Emma Hamilton, the "rock star" of her times, is not only epic, but also illustrative the plight of poor young women of the day. Without her legendary beauty, Emma wouldn't have stood a chance of digging her way out of poverty. In fact, readers learn early on that Emma's early education and opportunity, such as it was, came as a result of her mother's liaison with one of her "betters."
Equally compelling is the look into the character of Lord Nelson,whose own meteoric rise and outsized ego were remarkable. All the characters are well drawn, the times vividly portrayed. A fabulous read.
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