I hadn’t realized, at the time of writing this post [and then this], just how many of you out there are hard core historical fiction fans. The posts led to several wonderful e-mail conversations with some equally addicted readers, and produced some recommendations for which I am much indebted.
In their account, Humayun emerges as a man of the senses, beguiled and betrayed by his appetites, embracing opium as passionately as he embraces the women of his harem. His virtues are also his weaknesses: the compassion and forgiveness he shows his warring brothers as they plot against him will drive him into exile for years. As with the first book in the series, it’s the Prestons’ attention to detail and their intimate knowledge of the workings of the Mughal empire that makes this a satisfying, meaty read. They’re great on the battle sequences, and when they offer details such as the astrological carpet Humayun has woven when his opium-fuddled mind wants the court to be governed by the planets, they bring the period alive.
Despite the mixed review, I want. Flipkart, I notice, has run out of stock, so it is off to the bookstores this evening to hunt down a copy.