‘The Feast of Roses’ by Indu Sundaresan

feastThe days could be really hectic, your back might be breaking and your eyes get that vacant, hollow look, but you still breathe. In my case, I still read. Women dominate this week, finished two, third one on the verge of getting done. So, let me start from the enigmatic, some say manipulative, beautiful Mughal queen, Mehrunnisa, better known to the world as Empress Nur Jahan.

This is the second of a Trilogy, the first one traced the story of Mehrunnisa from her birth, through how she is smitten by Prince Jahangir, then gets married off to a soldier and ultimately how the dream of her life comes true when after being a widow and the mother of a child, she becomes ‘The Twentieth Wife’.

‘The Feast of Roses’ takes off from where the first become ended, Mehrunnisa is now the undoubted favorite of Emperor Jehangir and now she wants absolute control over the zenana and eventually the Mughal Empire as well. People are left wondering how a 34 year old mother of a child can so enrapture the Emperor to an extent that she is given an almost equal footing over the court proceedings, where no woman has ventured out before her. The author has beautifully explained it through her story.

The angst of a mother and the haughtiness of an Empress, her undying hunger for absolute power at any cost and her determination to destroy whatever stands in her way, even her daughter’s happiness is so well brought out in words. The details of the palaces, the costumes and the riches paint a very vivid picture, at places you feel as though you are watching a colorful period movie. The strength of love between the Emperor and his beloved is so strong that he is even willing to bear the ridicule of his courtiers. But then, it is this same Emperors son who built the most famous tribute to love, the Taj Mahal.

As in its prequel, Indu Sundaresan has caught the thoughts, emotions, mind and soul of her characters in its essence and portrayed them brilliantly. This is the story of a woman who fought against all odds , through sheer will power. She comes across as manipulative and ruthless in many places, but then to reign supreme in a harem of eight hundred odd wives and concubines, one has to be and act far above ordinary. I loved the book for its language, detailing and the characterization. I learned more about Mughal history from these books than in my school history class.

Verdict : A must read if you love historical fiction / romance. Or, read it if you just like good stories, forget the history part.


About wanderlustathome

Dabbling in numbers for a living while dreaming of words all the while.

Posted on August 30, 2013, in Fiction, History. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I love this book – the entire trilogy in fact! Beautifully written, brings the past to life.

  2. Mughal history always amuses me and to imagine what all I watched , fort and taj in colors via book wud be super good.
    Thanks for review. Will try to get my hands on it 🙂

  3. wow! I have never read historical fiction …bu this has my interest piqued 🙂

  4. I have only read Shadow Princess out of this trilogy. Yet to read the other two books.

    I loved Shadow Princess, and had exactly the same feelings about it as you have written about here. I learnt more about Mughal history from the book than I did through my school text books, and in a much more interesting manner too. Sundaresan’s prose is vivid and lovely, and it paints pictures in your head. I loved Jahannara’s character.

    BTW, have been reading Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti of late and have been charmed by it, though I am only 1/4 through it now. Maybe you would like to give it a try? Her Madame Tussaud is good, too.

  5. Yes, I read the last book in the series first. I bought it without knowing it was the last in the series, and couldn’t find the other two later at a reasonable price. So, I gave up on finding them and read this one. I loved the book. 🙂

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