Book Review: Mistress Of The Throne by Ruchir Gupta

While I know that its a popular belief that history is boring, one   of my favorite subject in school was history…and no I am not crazy, its just that I live in Delhi which has a very rich historical heritage so it was quite fascinating for me to read about how the various rulers had created all these monuments and how they lived. For me it was like reading a story, except that it was not fiction.
I was kind of proud of the fact that I knew alot about the Mughal empire until I picked up Mistress Of The Throne by Ruchir Gupta. The book is based in the 16th century when Shah Jahan finally gained the control over the throne of India and while we have read alot about ShahJahan, his wife Mumtaz and Aurangzeb, this book revolves around Jahanara, daughter of ShahJahan and Mumtaz. I do remember reading about Jahanara, but all I knew about was that she was crowned the queen after her Mumtaz died. This book however brought out alot of details that you don’t find in the general texts available on the mughal empire.

After the Empress of India Mumtaz has passed away during child birth, instead of anointing one of his several other wives to take her place as Empress of India, the Mughal King Shah Jahan anoints his seventeen-year-old daughter Jahanara as the next Queen of India. Jahanara is the first ever daughter of a sitting Mughal King to be anointed queen.Even though initially Jahanara is reluctant to accept this title, she eventually does accept it,in the hopes of averting the storm approaching her family and Mughal India. 
The story talks about Jahanara struggles as she comes to terms with what it means to be the Queen of India. She has to face all sorts of politics that come with the title, as the daughter of a sitting King, she is forbidden to marry while she lives in the shadow of her parents unflinching love story and her younger siblings harbor extreme personalities from a liberal multi-culturalist to an orthodox Muslim. 
The book is very well researched and at the end of the book the author even quoted some of the stories and their sources he used to build “his”version of Jahanara’s life. As I mentioned, people find history boring so I would definitely give credit to the author for his writing style which ended up making this book an interesting read. I am also grateful that he listened to his editor and made Jahanara the narrator as I don’t think writing it in any other way would have done justice to this book.
Character development is brilliant. By the time you reach the end of the book, you feel this sympathy for Jahanara and you see each and ever character of the book in a different light that what you have usually read about them. The pace is of the narration is so well balanced that o point of time in the book you feel rushed or slowed down, it just moves on in such a smooth manner giving you time to absorb the beauty with which the author has woven the facts and his imagination. 
It has been soo long since the last time I was disappointed when a book ended and I would absolutely urge you to pick up a copy and read this book. Its a beautiful story written in a manner that is a treat to read. And if by any chance Mr. Ruchir Gupta stumbles upon this blog, well sir you have a found a big fan in me and I am definitely looking forward to read your work in the future. 
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  • Thanks for this great review, I should give to Mrs Gupta a chance,too!