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Publisher's Summary

Sweeping out of Central Asia in the last half of the 14th century came the Tatar armies of Timur, known as Tamerlane in the West, and one of history's supremely gifted military leaders.

With consummate skill, Tamerlane cobbled together a kingdom from the tattered leftovers of various Mongol fiefdoms. He then enlarged that fiefdom into a large and menacing power in the center of Asia. But when the mighty Mongolian empire decided to crush out this upstart rival, it was too late.

Tamerlane not only defeats the Mongols, but goes on to vanquish the Persians, the Indians and the mighty Ottoman Turks in successive wars. It was one of the most astounding developments imaginable, doubly so because of its swiftness and decisiveness. And at the time of his death in 1405, Tamerlane was on his way to invade and subdue China with an army of 200,000.

Ruling from his fabulous capital of Samarkand, he was a fascinating, controversial, and contradictory tyrant. He was both a destroyer and a builder, a barbarian and a cultured gentleman. He was ostensibly Muslim, but was the scourge of Muslim states, who vilify him to this day. The Tatar empire at his death approached the dimensions of the earlier Khans of Mongolia, yet it melted away immediately after his passing.

In yet another superb historical work, Harold Lamb brings the mighty Tatar leader to vivid life and shows how this ruthless commander used his superior intellect and magnetic leadership to overcome one obstacle after another. Tamerlane was truly one of the most remarkable personalities ever to emerge from the steppes of Central Asia.

© and (P)2007 Audio Connoisseur

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • curt
  • PORTLAND, OR, United States
  • 12-23-08

The man that conquered Afganistan

Great book, very infomative on the culture, traditions, and motivations of a forgotten people. Lamb points out that there have only been three successful conquers. Alexander, Ghengis Khan, and Tamerlain.
Tamerlain was a tarter, not a mongol as most people believe. Great story well written. Kept my interest even while driving in the snow at night (sleepy time!)
The author looked at the facts--the history having been written by those he defeated--and gave an accurate picture of an ignored giant of history!
I also recommend Lambs book on Ghengis Khan.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Exploring an ignored time and region in history

Harold Lamb is a master who brings characters in history to life. While I preferred "Hannibal: One Man Against Rome", I found this to be an excellent book. History too often seems to pretend that central Asia doesn't exist and that the Romans were the only empire builders worth remembering. I knew nothing of the events and people described in this book before I listened to this book, and now wish to learn more.

Some people complain about the narration, although I'm not sure what they didn't like. Charlton Griffin does an excellent job and adds a dramatic flair to the reading that some seem to dislike. (What would they prefer, a dry recitation?)

My only complaint is that I still feel like I know too little. I'm so ignorant of the region and its history, that I struggled to tie the story to the modern world. I don't know if I could find Samarkand on a map, and didn't recognize half the place names he mentioned, even when he placed them "near modern wherever". But that is only a complaint of the scope of my ignorance of the region and its history, and not of the book itself.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 08-27-09

I can't believe I didn't know this...

This is the life and times of Timur, King of the Tartars and nearly the entire ancient world. Harold Lamb is a master!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jens
  • Ohain, Belgium
  • 10-08-12

Very entertaining, loved it

What did you love best about Tamerlane?

The narrator is doing a great job, good storytelling voice and pace. Luckily no sound effects as in other similar semi-fictious books. This is not your usual history book-type thing, going meticulously forward year by year but rather a smooth flowing story with lots of detail, vivid and colorful descriptions.

What did you like best about this story?

Its highly entertaining, lots of action and easy to follow plot. I am not sure about how much is fiction or facts, but it didn't bother me.

What about Charlton Griffin’s performance did you like?

Great voice, good speed. And good pronunciation of some very strange names, titles and places.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Masterful Conceptualization of a Conqueror

Would you listen to Tamerlane again? Why?

Aptly tailored to be delivered in the oral tradition, Harold Lamb at once grasps your undying attention with this well polished work. <br/><br/>The performance is of the fantastic quality we have come to expect of Mr. Griffin, who's diction is at its best when strumming the chords of a well written epic tale such as this.<br/><br/>The key feature which makes this work exemplary is the seamless style with which ancient script, overlying theology, and modern historical knowledge meld to form a fluid history with a clear sense of its place in the ether.<br/><br/>The story its self is an amazing tale of a humble boy who launches himself into the select cast of rulers of which there are but few including Alexander the Great. Fighting in the style of those great barbarians who conquered Rome and enslaved China, Tamerlane leads armies over continental lengths against both the barbarous and most sophisticated of hosts. These campaigns culminate in an empire who's influence adds context to events of the middle ages and destiny of many nations.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 03-31-14

Lamb brings history to life

Tamerlane (Timur the lame) or correctly known as Timur ruler of Samarkand 1369-1405. Lamb says Timur was a Tartar, some other biographer’s claim he was a Turko-Mongol. I believe Lamb is correct as Timur was born in what is today Uzbekistan, which is the home land of the Tartars. After the fall of the Soviets, they tore down the statue of Marx and Stalin and put up a big statue of Timur. According to Lamb he married a Great Granddaughter of Genghis Khan. I found the author’s remarks that Samarkand was famous for its crimson cloth most interesting. I love learning these little tidbits of information. The author also said that Timur liked turquoise blue so the people made him turquoise blue cloth, they wore the cloth over the saddle that is the reason they were called the blue hoard. Lamb did not specify if his enjoyment of turquoise blue was before or after his conquering of Turkey. His Empire was enormous he ruled all of the “stans” all the middle east including Turkey , Egypt, India, Russia, Mongolia and parts of China. According to Lamb when he conquered the Golden Hoard (the Mongolian tribe that ruled Russia) he placed a group of Tartars in Crimea to control the area where Russian came in touch of Europe. (They lived in the Crimea until Stalin sent them to the gulags. The tartars returned with the fall of the Soviet’s and they apparently voted against the Russia takeover of the Crimea) Lamb said Timur also took Poland for a time. Lamb says Timur was a great patron of the art and architecture. Timur apparently enjoyed the domes of the Byzantium architecture and brought it back to Samarkand and into Russia. Timur used the Dome on his palaces and mosques, he was a Muslim. The author did cover Timur’s wars and brutality but also covered his love of architecture, his great ability as an administrator and war strategist. In enjoyed learning about Timur, his land and time. Lamb has a way of writing that brings history to life. It took me a bit to get use to the sound effects used in the audio book. I think the voice of Charlton Griffin was appropriate for this type of story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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great tale of a somewhat unknown figure

It was a great history of a great man who has been forgotten by history.

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Narrator was a bit dry, slightly monotone.

I preferred the end bits where Lamb explains his sources, would reccomend for hardcore historophiles, or students interested in central Asian history and or anthropology.

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A Monster Depicted A Military Figure

Although the author describes some of Tamerlane's atrocities, he is far too kind to a brutal monomaniacal warlord.

Tamerlane is estimated to have killed 17,000,000 people, about 5% of Earth's population at the time. He would have enslaved huge numbers, maimed or wounded others, and left orphans and widows.

His attacks stretched from the Levant to China. He eradicated most of the Christians from Asia. Baghdad never recovered from his sack of that city. An equal opportunity aggressor, he attacked Hindus in Delhi and other cities. To what end? He claimed to be the aligned with Allah but he slaughtered many Muslims. Personal glory, captives, plunder is a more likely motivation.

Harold Lamb is a popular writer, not a serious historian. Many of his comparisons of tactics are related to what Napoleon did. Lamb also has biographies about Hannibal, Suleiman, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan, all of whom waged wars of aggression.

The narration is too rapid. There are too many characters to keep track requiring rewinding. An accompanying map and chronology would have been helpful.

It should be noted that Chechnya was Tamerlane's stomping ground and that radicalized older of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers was named after Tamerlane, namely, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

6 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • Winston Salem, NC, United States
  • 02-13-13

Disappointing

I recently listened to Jack Weatherford's excellent books about Genghis Khan and the Mongolian empire and I thought this would be an interesting follow-up. But the book doesn't measure up to Weatherford's books, the reader's style is overblown, and when the plot is about a river, I don't need to hear the sound of a river.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Dave
  • 03-27-12

Not an easy listen

I don't know a lot about Tamerlane - that is why I chose this book - so I can't comment on the scholarly content. However I found it very much bulked out with long evocative descriptions of bleak landscapes or dancing girls at some gathering, and after a while you start to crave something a bit more substantial. I guess the problem is we simply do not have that much information, so the author has to flesh it out with scene-setting, although I was more than disappointed that an entire expedition to India was covered merely from the perspective of the womenfolk left behind waiting the return of their men. If we have no details then just say so - don't turn it into an exercise in evocative prose.

Part of the problem may be the age of the book. I don't know when it was written but it was clearly some time ago from certain references. However another problem is the reader. I have heard several books read by this guy, and just can't face any more. He speaks with an extremely posh accent, and I don't just mean he speaks well rather than 'common'. Some of his choices in pronunciation are very odd and for all I know they fit well in academic Oxbridge circles, but they just annoy the average reader.

So, would I recommend this book? Not particularly, although it may well be a fine study of a little-known subject. The sheer quantity of pointless fluff, and the highly irritating manner of the reader, are enough to make me think I could have made better use of my time.

  • Overall
  • Jason
  • 08-19-10

tamerlane = OK

good book, easy to follow the history line.