Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World

Published by Harper Perennial on 3rd October 2005

Tamerlane was the greatest conqueror the world has ever seen. His armies were irresistible, feared throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. Wherever they rode, death rained down around them like the plague. His very name evokes mystery and romance: the clash of swords on steppes and snow-clad mountains; the legendary opulence of a cruel Oriental despot and the astonishing magnificence of his blue-domed capital at Samarkand.

Yet while Tamerlane (1336-1405) ranks alongside Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan as history’s most devastating warrior-king, the detail of his life is scarcely known in the West. He spent his early years in Central Asia as a sheep-steeler and petty brigand. By 1370, after a series of cunning alliances, he had seized power locally, but a small kingdom was not enough for the man who aspired to rule the world.

In the closing decades of the fourteenth century he blazed through Asia like a firestorm, riding to victory after victory at the head of a ferocious army. Cities were razed to the ground, inhabitants tortured without mercy, enemies decapitated. Towers of bloody heads were his most chilling monuments, terrible warnings to those ready to oppose him, His conquests stretched from Delhi to Damascus, Siberia to the Mediterranean, as one by one the great cities of Asia fell before him.

Justin Marozzi travelled across Central Asia to realise his stunning portrait of this complex emperor and explore the vast legacy he bequethed. Master politician, formidable military strategist and exceptional chess player, Tamerlane was creative and destructive in equal measure, as dedicated to high culture as he was to ruthless conquest.

Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World is the story of one of the most remarkable men who ever lived. It is compelling history of the highest order.