This noble king was called Genghis Khan,Who in his time was of so great renownThat there was nowhere in no regionSo excellent a lord in all things.He lacked nothing that belonged to a king.As of the sect of which he was bornHe kept to his law, to which he was sworn.And thereto he was hardy, wise, and rich,And piteous and just, always liked;Soothe of his word, benign, and honorable,Of his courage as any center stable;Young, fresh, and strong, in arms desirousAs any bachelor of all his house.A fair person he was and fortunate,And kept always so well royal estateThat there was nowhere such another man.This noble king, this Tartar Genghis Khan. This tale of Genghis Khan is from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. So you might be wondering how we went from that image of Genghis Khan and the Mongols in 1390 to, well, this:What did you think they were based on? They ride horses, they conquer things, they drink fermented mare's milk, and their leader is called a Khal.*If you want to know the answer, read this book. Jack Weatherford's writing is compelling, accessible, and lyrical (how often do you say that about a history book?) and your mind will be utterly blown by how much of the modern world we owe to the Mongols. Or you could, you know, read it for the sake of tormenting Song of Ice and Fire fans with the knowledge that the conception of the Dothraki in inherently (and virulently) racist.*No, for reals, guys. I'm fairly sure both leaders had an army of precisely 100,000 and Voltaire the evil, racist bastard called Genghis Khan "the king of kings". No, he did not mean that as a compliment at the time.