The Lady of The Rivers – Philippa Gregory

Lady of the RiversTitle : The Lady of The Rivers

Author : Philippa Gregory

ISBN-10 :  1416563717

ISBN-13 : 978-1416563716

Paperback : 480 pages

The Plot :

When the young and beautiful Jacquetta is married to the older Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta has visions of the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of their royal York rivals. Jacquetta fights for her king and queen, as she sees an extraordinary and unexpected future for her daughter Elizabeth: a change of fortune, the white rose of York, and the throne of England…

Review :

After finishing the entire Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory, I had very high expectations for this book, which is the first in the Cousins’ War series. In short it not just lived up but has been a really exciting read.

Philippa Gregory manages to weave in court intrigue, with history and amazing imagery from the 15th century beautifully, in this story about Jacquetta of Luxembourg. The choice of her as the protagonist is so interesting, since there isn’t too much information available about her. The book throws light on the perceptions of magic and witchcraft

Looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

Links :

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/The-Lady-Rivers-Novel-Cousins%C2%92/dp/1416563717

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.philippagregory.com/

Find Out More About the Show : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2372220/

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The Boleyn Inheritance – Philippa Gregory

The Boleyn InheritanceTitle : The Boleyn Inheritance

Author : Philippa Gregory

ISBN-10 :  1439124671

ISBN-13 : 978-1439124673

Paperback : 592 pages

The Plot :

In this story about a court ruled by the gallows and three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror, a vanished world is brought to life – the whisper of a skirt on a stone stair, the glow of a candle lighting a hastily written note, the murmurs of the crowd gathering on Tower green below the scaffold.

Anne of Cleves’s Boleyn Inheritance is accusations and false witnesses. Katherine Howard’s Boleyn Inheritance is the threat of the axe. Jane Rochford’s Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune, a title, in exchange for her soul.

Review :

Told from the alternating perspectives of Anne of Cleves, Kathrine Howard and Jane Rochford, The Boleyn Inheritance is the third book in the Tudor court series (chronologically). Anne of Cleves was King Henry VIII’s fourth wife and Kathrine Howard his sixth wife while Jane Rochford was the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife.

Anne of Cleves comes to England as his fourth wife, married for political reasons but he detests her for she is ugly. He agrees to marry her without seeing her in person but when he sees her he is determined to set her aside for a younger, prettier Kathrine Howard. Jane Rochford is known to have provided incriminating evidence against Anne Boleyn, leading to her beheading.

What I loved about the book is its break neck pace and the beauty with which the author has shown the constant terror that everyone is in while in King Henry VIII’s court. He was known to have become unstable and tyrannical during this stage of his life, plagued by illness and fear of growing old as well as fears of plots to overthrow his rule of England. Anne of Cleves is such a strong character, who manages to escape one tyrant (her brother) just to come to become the wife of another. Kathrine Howard is just a silly girl with silly dreams and wishes who is thrust into the role of Queen of England, when she is clearly not in a position to handle its responsibilities. And Jane Rochford is dealing with her grief and guilt in the role she has played in Henry’s court but working furiously to maintain her position and inheritance.

I have loved all the books in this series so far and looking forward to reading the next book eagerly. Overall highly recommended read for anyone who loves historic fiction and is obsessed with the Tudors as much as I am.

Links :

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/Boleyn-Inheritance-Novel-Philippa-Gregory/dp/074327251X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1419385272

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.philippagregory.com/

Shadow Princess – Indu Sundaresan

Shadow PrincessTitle : Shadow Princess

Author : Indu Sundaresan

ISBN-10: 1416548793

ISBN-13 : 978-1416548799

Paperback : 352 pages

The Plot :

Critically acclaimed author Indu Sundaresan picks up where she left off in The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses, returning to seventeenth-century India as two princesses struggle for supremacy of their father’s kingdom.

Trapped in the shadow of the magnificent tomb their grief-stricken father is building for his beloved deceased wife, the emperor’s daughters compete for everything: control over the imperial harem, their father’s affection, and the future of their country. They are forbidden to marry and instead choose to back different brothers in the fight for ultimate power over the throne. But only one of the sisters will succeed. With an enthusiasm for history and a flair for rich detail, Indu Sundaresan brings readers deep into the complicated lives of Indian women of the time period and highlights the profound history of one of the most celebrated works of architecture in the world, the Taj Mahal.

Review:

I have loved the first two books in this series and this one is no different. Indu Sundaresan is once again successful in transporting the readers to a time centuries ago. Having visited most of the places mentioned in the book, it truly does make for an amazing read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Mughal dynasty and the monuments they built during their reign in India. Tying in interesting facts with a beautiful story this is by far one of the best books I have read about the Taj Mahal.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Princess-Novel-Indu-Sundaresan/dp/B0057D9C2C

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.indusundaresan.com/

The Heretic Queen – Michelle Moran

The Heretic QueenTitle : The Heretic Queen

Author : Michelle Moran

ISBN-10: 0307381765

ISBN-13 : 978-0307381767

Paperback : 416 Pages

The Plot :

In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family–with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

Once again Michelle Moran manages to engage the readers in a beautiful world set centuries ago. The plot is gripping and the characters are relatable even though they are long gone. The descriptions of the palaces and the lives the Pharaohs led, in itself make this book a compelling read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone with a fancy for historic fiction.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/The-Heretic-Queen-Misfortune-Pharaohs/dp/0307381765

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.michellemoran.com/index.html

Nefertiti – Michelle Moran

ImageTitle : Nefertiti

Author : Michelle Moran

ISBN-10: 0307381749

ISBN-13 : 978-0307381743

Paperback : 496 pages

The Plot :

Nefertiti: A Novel by Michelle Moran is the tale of one of history’s most fascinating Egyptian Queens, told from the perspective of her sister Mutnodjmet. While Nefertiti is the beautiful and ambitious sister, Mutnodjmet is the plain looking sister with the superior understanding of court politics. While one wants to rule over all of Egypt, the other is happy to spend the rest of her life in her herb garden.

Although the two sisters are part of the royal family they are brought up far from the court. Their father Ay, is a Vizier at the court of the current Pharaoh of Egypt and his sister, Tiye, is the Queen. Nefertiti is chosen by her aunt to be married to prince Amenhotep, who is the heir to the throne of Egypt. This is where the story begins.

The prince is known to be impetuous and hot headed. He is overly ambitious and has outrageous plans to overthrow the current gods of Amun, erect temples and shrines to a new god called Aten, create a new capital for Egypt and make a mark in history for himself. Queen Tiye and her brother Ay, are convinced that Nefertiti will be able to control the prince once he is Pharaoh. Instead, she encourages Amunhotep’s outrageous plans, to further her own ambitions of remaining the new Kings chief wife, winning the adoration of the people while making powerful enemies at court.  

Mutnodjmet is the only one that Nefertiti can truly rely on. She is the only one who has Nefertiti’s ear, yet not always. As King Amunhotep’s commands become more extravagant, he and Nefertiti make enemies of the army, clergy, and Egypt’s most powerful allies. All the while Mutnodjmet is at the beck and call of Nefertiti and slowly starts to resent her position in the court. She longs to have a life away from the royal court in her gardens. Then, when Mutnodjmet begins a dangerous affair with a general, she sees how tenuous her situation is at her own sister’s court.

Filled with intrigue and drama all set in the royal court of Egypt, the book is a must read for any fan of historic fiction. It is very fast paced and the characters are very relatable even though they are set in a time centuries ago. It brings to life the reign on Amunhotep and Nefertiti in the most fantastic way. The court intrigues and tensions are almost palpable. Overall it makes for an action packed and gripping read. I loved every last word of it and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series named ‘The Heretic Queen’.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/Nefertiti-A-Novel-Michelle-Moran/dp/0307381749/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.michellemoran.com/index.html

 

The Mountain Of Light – Indu Sundaresan

Mountain of Light-CoverTitle : The Mountain Of Light

Author : Indu Sundaresan

ISBN-10: 1451643519

ISBN-13 : 978-1451643510

Paperback : 352 pages

The Plot :

In her new book ‘The Mountain Of Light’, author Indu Sundaresan takes us through a journey following the Kohinoor diamond across continents. It is work of historic fiction all about the 186 carat diamond and how it changed hands. The word Koh-i-Noor, coined by the Persian king Babur, means ‘The Mountain Of Light’ and that is how the book gets its title.

For those who are unaware, the Kohinoor diamond is now a 106 carat diamond, and held the title of the world’s largest diamond for many years.  The first recorded mention of the diamond can be found in the memoirs of Mughal Emperor Babur, who received it from a Hindu ruler he had defeated. After the Mughals, it slipped out of India and was with Nadir Shah for a while.  Later it was held by King of Afghanistan Shah Shuja and subsequently by Maharajah Ranjit Singh of the Punjab Empire.   Finally it landed in England to be presented to Queen Victoria. Currently in possession of Queen Elizabeth of England, the Kohinoor diamond is displayed at the Tower of England in London. It has travelled through time and around the world, changing hands from one ruler to another in Persia, Afghanistan, India and England for centuries.

The book starts in 1871, in the beautiful Shalimar Gardens of the mansion of Punjab’s Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Here, the Afghan king Shah Shuja and his wife Wafa Begum are held captive after having lost their throne and taking refuge in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. They, Wafa Begum specifically, are in possession of the opulent diamond. They had promised the Maharaja that they would hand over the diamond to him if he helped them escape and win back the Afghan throne. After having successfully escaped from Afghanistan, Shah Suja and Wafa Begum refuse to give up the Diamond to Ranjit Singh as they are sure that once they hand over the diamond to Ranjit Singh, he will surely execute them as he would have nothing further to gain from them. They hold on to the diamond as the only ray of hope for their survival.

After years of keeping them captive in hopes of owning the Koh-i-Noor Magaraja Ranjit Singh of the Punjab finally realises that he needs to take more drastic measures if he wants to get hold of the diamond. He cuts off their food and water supply and starves them. Eventually they yield and hand over the diamond to the Maharaja. As soon as he is in possession of the Diamond he sets Shah Shuja and Wafa Begum free.

The story then leaps many years, to when Maharaja Ranjit Singh, still in possession of the Koh-i-Noor, is now old and weary. The British have made their entry into India under the name of the East India Company and have hopes to annex India from the control of Ranjit Singh and have their sovereign, Queen Victoria, rule over the vast empire. After his death, four of his sons kill each other in wars to take control of the mighty empire. His only remaining heir is the six year old prince Dalip Singh. With the help of his mother Jindan Kaur and her staff they manage to put him on the throne as the Emperor of the Punjab Empire.

In the meanwhile the British sign a treaty with Dalip Singh and his court, to help protect his position as regent of the Punjab Empire, in hopes that they will be able to slowly gain control and push him out of power. They start to take account of all the wealth in the Toshakhana of the king and start compiling lists of items of value that will soon belong to the Treasury of the East India Company. During this process, the East India Company and the British manage to take possession of the Koh-i-Noor diamond.

Soon Lord Dalhousie, comes to India as the Governor General and he plans to present the Koh-i-Noor to his sovereign, Queen Victoria, as a gift from India.  Under the utmost secrecy, two high ranking British officers plan to take the Diamond to England on board the SS Indus. On the way to England, the diamond is stolen and later found.

The story ends many years later where we see Dalip Singh is old and settled in Paris and  he shares his diaries with his daughter that he maintained from when he was sixteen and came to England. In his diaries he talks about how much his life changed since he left Lahore and how he longed to possess the Koh-i-Noor diamond.

Overall the book is an amazing read that transports the reader into a totally different world. The book reflects the opulence of Indian Kings, life in their zenanas, the entry of the British into India, life in England and the majestic scenes in Queen Victoria’s palaces. It documents how the Koh-i-Noor travelled from country to country, King to King, empire to empire and finally settling down in the hands of the British monarchs, where it still lies today, captive in the Tower of London.

The book conveys wonderfully how the urge to own this diamond was so overwhelming that even the dreadful curse supposedly carried by it was conveniently overlooked. Indu Sundaresan uses beautiful imagery to show a glimpse of the life led by the kings in Punjab and the beauty of the Koh-i-Noor. The amount of research that must have gone into writing this beautiful book is truly mind boggling. After reading ‘The Mountain Of Light’ I am filled with the desire to see the Koh-i-Noor once again, and look into its facets and try and see the history it has left behind. A definite must read for historic fiction lovers.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/The-Mountain-Light-A-Novel/dp/1451643519

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.indusundaresan.com/

Find Out More About the Koh-i-Noor : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koh-i-Noor & http://www.kohinoordiamond.org/index.html

Master Of The Game – Sidney Sheldon

Master Of The GameTitle : Master Of The Game

Author : Sidney Sheldon

ISBN-10 : 8172234872

ISBN-13 : 978-8172234874

Paperback : 448 pages

The Plot :

Another classic Sidney Sheldon book, Master of the Game spans over 6 generations beginning with Jamie in 1883. The book starts in 1982 on Kate Blackwell’s ninetieth birthday. Her entire family is there to celebrate with her but all of them in truth hate her and feel that she manipulated and changed their course of life. Kate on the other hand thinks that she is the one who was cheated instead and feels that she has done everything in her power to help them. The rest of the book is a flash back from 1883 to the present as she recalls the formation of the company she now owns, Kruger-Brent Ltd.

We are first introduced to Jamie McGregor, who moves to South Africa with dreams of becoming rich, mining for diamonds. He risks his life on multiple occasions to achieve his goal and finally manages to become successful with the help of a Dutch shopkeeper, Salomon Van Der Merwe. Soon he realizes that he has been defrauded by Salomon and is contractually only a labourer for Salomon, not his partner. With the help of a friend he manages to recover his diamonds and changes his identity to Ian Travis.

As Ian Travis, he is recognised by all as a rich and successful businessman. He marries the daughter of Salomon in revenge and she gives birth to a son first, names Jamie Jr.,  and then a daughter named Kate. Ian/Jamie dies soon, leaving the company to his wife Margaret, who in turn leaves it to Kate who grows up strong-willed and beautiful. She falls in love with her mentor David Blackwell and eventually marries him and they move to New York. Their company begins to grow and branch out to become a global conglomerate under Kate’s leadership.

She and David have a son they name Tony, who wants to be an artist but Kate has plans for him to take over the company she has so painstakingly built. Kate secretly destroys Tony’s career as an artist to further her dream of having him take over the company. When he finds out the involvement of his mother in this, he stands up to her and walks away from the business. Kate later manipulates him into marrying Marianne Hoffman, whose father owns something she covets. The marriage is happy and Marianne becomes pregnant with twin girls, but Marianne dies before the second girl is delivered.

Her doctor tells Tony that he had warned Marianne of the dangers but that Kate told her to ignore them. The incident, along with the coincidental revelation that Kate manipulated and ultimately destroyed his entire art career, drives Tony mad and he tries to kill his mother in revenge. She survives the gunshot wound, but Tony is committed to an institution. Kate is heartbroken that her son felt this way about her but she is determined to survive.

Kate takes her two granddaughters to raise them and names them Eve and Alexandra. Eve grows up to be ruthless and cunning just like her grandmother. She sees Alexandra as a problem to inheriting Kate’s estate in entirety and repeatedly attempts to kill her. Kate clearly favours Eve as the heir apparent to Kruger Brent, but when Eve tries to implicate Alexandra in a sex scandal Kate realizes the truth about Eve and disinherits her, giving her only a small allowance and pays attention to Alexandra.

Enraged, Eve plots revenge against both her sister and grandmother. She meets George Mellis and seduces him into helping her. Eve holds certain secrets over his head and convinves him to marry Alexandra and then murder her. Eve continues to taunt Mellis, and one night he snaps and attacks Eve, brutally assaulting her. She eventually recovers thanks to the work of a talented but mousy plastic surgeon Keith Webster and uses the beating to get back into her grandmother’s good graces. Kate melts and takes Eve back in and puts her back in the will.

Having fallen in love with her, he blackmails her into marrying him. Eve marries him but cheats on him flagrantly with a young actor. When the actor makes a joke about her laugh lines she demands that Webster repair them. Webster deliberately destroys her face and proves to be a master manipulator himself, making Eve completely dependent on him. Alexandra, meanwhile, falls in love with the Templeton; they marry and have a son, Robert.

The book finally ends with at Kate’s ninetieth birthday party, where Robert is 8 years old. She sees him as the next heir to the company but is parents laugh it off. Robert seems to be a talented pianist and his parents encourage him to follow whatever he wants. Kate on the other had different plans for him and sets a new scheme in motion to get her way.

Extremely interesting, this book takes you through a journey with Kate Blackwell. The lead character is a master manipulator and the book follows her different schemes to get her way. It is a page turner and makes for an extremely good read.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/Master-Game-Sidney-Sheldon/dp/8172234872/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/sidneysheldon/books.html

Find Out More About the TV Miniseries Adaptation : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086755/

Empire Of The Moghul: Raiders From The North – Alex Rutherford

ImageTitle : Empire Of The Moghul – Raiders From The North

Author : Alex Rutherford

ISBN-10 : 0312573227

ISBN-13 : 978-0312573225

Paperback : 448 pages

The Plot :

This is the first book in the ‘Empire of the Moghul’ series by Alex Rutherford. The entire series has five books until now (2013) and deals with the Mughal Empire. The Mughals were one of the most opulent and powerful dynasties in the world and the central theme of the books revolve around the rise and fall of this dynasty,

‘Raiders from the North’ talks about the life of Babur, who is considered the first emperor of the Mughal dynasty. He is the descendent of Timur the Lame (Tamburlaine) and ruler of Ferghana in central Asia. From a very young age, when he inherited the throne, he had to fight to maintain his rule over his kingdom. The book starts in 1494 when at the age of 12, Babur inherits the throne, after the death of his father. He is determined to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors to make them the greatest dynasty that every ruled and be great like them.

The main characters of the book are his family and ministers including his mother Kutlugh Nigar, Grandmother Esan Dawlat, sister Khanzada and son Humayun, Shaibani Khan of the Uzbeks and Shah Ismail of Persia. Babur’s military commander Wazir Khan, adviser Baisanghar and friend Baburi are based on historical figures. With their help he is able to get hold of the throne and continue to rule after his father.

He is ambitious and has dreams to expand his kingdom to match that of his ancestors. As soon as he inherits the thrown he is subject to vicious plots and by some of his ministers and family to usurp the throne. Simultaneously the neighbouring king of the Uzbeks, Shaibani Khan and King of Persia, Shah Ismail plan to invade his kingdom. In order to be able to survive and rule his kingdom, Babur develops his cunning and military skills.

As a young king lacking skills to rule the empire he gets ousted from his own kingdom loosing Samarkhand that belonged to his ancestors and Ferghana where he ruled. He goes to Kabul where he starts to rule and slowly plans to regain his old territories along with new lands.  

Based on his autobiography, the ‘Baburnama’, this work of historic fiction makes for an amazing read. It gives you an insight into the mind of a Mughal emperor along with scenes of decadence and frivolity used to the emperor. It also takes you through the military stratagems and battles that helped establish the basis of the glorious Mughal dynasty. All in all, it is a great book which stays true to facts, takes you practically into those days as the story unfolds and leads you through Ferghana, onto Samarkand – then Kabul and finally Hindustan. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and highly recommend it. I can hardly wait to start the next in the series.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/Raiders-North-Empire-Alex-Rutherford/dp/0312573227/ref=tmm_pap_title_0/175-3758988-8186954

Find Out More About the Author :  http://empireofthemoghul.com/

The Palace Of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

ImageTitle : The Palace Of Illusions

Author : Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

ISBN-10 : 1400096200

ISBN-13 : 978-1400096206

Paperback : 384 pages

The Plot :

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is brings a very different perspective to the Indian epic Mahabharata. It is a narration of the epic from Draupadi/Paanchali’s point of view.

For those who are not aware, The Mahabharata, is a very important part of Indian Hindu mythology. It is the struggle for the throre of Hastinapura, in India that was ruled by the Kuru clan. The main characters are segregated into two families, The Pandavas (five brothers) and the Kauravas (one hundred brothers). At its core, The Mahabharata is a story of how good triumphs over evil even though the good may be outnumbered by the evil.

Draupadi also known as Paanchali is the wife of the Pandavas. Yes she is married to them all but not simultaneously. For a year she is wife to one brother and sister-in-law to the others and this continues year after year. In the Indian mythology the Pandavas are revered to as Gods and can do no wrong (although there are many mistakes they make as humans in the epic). This book gives a different perspective and treats them as humans with real flaws.

It starts with the birth of Draupadi, the fire child, princess of Paanchal and continues through her life. It talks about how she falls in love with one man and is forced to marry five others instead. You see her deal with everyday issues to things like trying to adjust being married to five men. She has her list of pros and cons of each husband and how they treat her and look at her so differently. It also shows you how she is one of the main reasons that The Mahabharata even occurred. It speaks of humanized characters, rather than the tragic, even if flawed, heroes of the original epic, whose travails the reader identifies with. 

It is interesting to read because in most other versions of the epic, old and new alike, the women are more of side characters, whereas in this book Draupadi is in the centre of the actions. It is based totally of historic facts from the epic with some welcome additions by the author. Yes we all know how it ends and we know the whole story before reading the book, but it is the narration and the modernized revision of the story that makes it a compelling read. It was such a beautifully narrated version of The Mahabharata that after the book ended it left me begging for more. I enjoyed every minute of the book and place it very high on my recommendations list.  

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1400096200

Find Out More About the Author : http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/

For More About The Mahabharata : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata

The Feast Of Roses – Indu Sundaresan

feast of rosesTitle : The Feast Of Roses

Author : Indu Sunderesan

ISBN-10 : 0743456416

ISBN-13 : 978-0743456418

Paperback : 416 pages

The Plot :

The sequel to ‘The Twentieth Wife’, ‘The Feast of Roses’ by Indu Sunderesan is all about how Mehrunnnisa establishes herself as the most important wife of Jahangir. Set 1611, this books is the second in the Taj trilogy. At the end of the last book, Jahangir marries Mehrunnisa, making her his 20th wife. All his other marriages were for political reasons and only this, his latest, is for love.

Using his love as a tool at her disposal Mehrunnisa, given the title ‘Nur Jahan’ by Jahangir, culls out a place for herself in history as one of the most powerful empresses in the Mughal Empire. Over a seventeen year marriage, she becomes the Emperor in all but name of the vast Mughal Empire. Although hidden behind a veil and the walls of the Mughal harem of the king, Mehrunnisa assumes the powers of sovereignty that her husband willingly bestows on her.

She uses his deep and obsessive love fro her and immense trust that he places in her to gain the power to be able to mint coins in her name, issue farmaans ( imperial orders) and construct tombs and monuments that are considered some of the landmarks of the Mughal Dynasty in India. All this power was something she had to fight for.

This books talks about the means that she used to gain this power and position including using her daughter (from a previous marriage) as a pawn in her battle for power. From the very get go she has strong enemies like Empress Jagat Gosini (one of the other wives of Jaganhir) within the harem and ministers outside it. She deals with clever plots by them to destroy the kings affections for her and uses them to increase her position in the harem to the most important wife of the king.

In turn she forms an alliance of sorts with her father, brother and Prince Khurram (Jahangir’s son from another marriage). As the author describes it “Through it all, Mehrunnisa demonstrates strength of character and cunning to get what she wants. The woman who fretted about life’s absurdities, with few resources to change them in The Twentieth Wife, finds full expression to her character and personality in The Feast of Roses.”

All in all it is a wonderful book. Filled with political intrigue, schemes and plans and the resourcefulness of one woman, it makes for an excellent read. Like the previous book the descriptions and amazing and the language flows so smoothly. In a word Unputdownable.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/The-Feast-Roses-A-Novel/dp/0743456416

Find Out More About the Author :  http://www.indusundaresan.com/Default.aspx

The Twentieth Wife – Indu Sunderesan

twentieth wifeTitle : The Twentieth Wife

Author : Indu Sunderesan

ISBN-10: 0743428188

ISBN-13 : 978-0743428187

Paperback : 416 pages

The Plot :

Set in the 15th century Mughal empire, Indu Sunderesan’s ‘The Twentieth Wife’, is the story of the most powerful and influential empress of the Mughal dynasty. It tells us the story of Mehrunnisa later known as Empress Nur Jahan. The book is works for historic fiction, with a lot of its facts having a basis in reality.

The underlying theme of the book is how the women held a very real power in the Mughal Empire, from behind their veils. This is the first instalment of the Taj Trilogy. It starts with the birth of a girl in the dessert during a storm, whose parents had decided to give her up. Little did they know that in the coming years, she would become one of the most powerful empresses to ever rule the Mughal Empire.

Being raised in the vicinity of the Zenana (quarters of the royal women in the Mughal empire) most of her childhood, Mehrunnisa saw Prince Jahangir during his first wedding when she was just 8. At that age she had decided in her mind that someday she would marry him. And as history would have it, she did marry him, becoming his twentieth and last wife.

The books takes you through Mehrunnisa’s life, her childhood years in the Zenana, interactions with the then empress Ruqayya Begam, her first marriage to a soldier in the Mughal Army, competing with Empress Jagat Gosini and other trials that kept her from the love of her life, Jhangir. With steady determination she managed to get the attention of Jhangir over his harem of wives and hundreds of concubines and established herself as the Empress, the most important of his wives.

From page one the books is engrossing. It is not just the characters but also the time and the places that are discussed in the book that drew me to it. Although you know the end, it is the journey of Mehrunnisa’s life that is so intriguing. Sunderesan’s writing is mesmerising and describes beautiful scenes in the book with a language that makes the reader feel they are standing in midst of the intricately described bazzars, the palace, the Diwan-i-Aam, the court, the harem etc. It is a must read for anyone who fancies the Mughal Empire. One of the most beautiful books I have read.

Links:

Buy the Book From : http://www.amazon.com/The-Twentieth-Wife-A-Novel/dp/0743428188

Find Out More About the Author :  http://www.indusundaresan.com/Default.aspx