Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Empire of the Moghul: Ruler of the World

Alex Rutherford’s third book was eagerly awaited as it was, after all, going to be about none other than one of the most revered king in history, Akbar. The last book on Humayun was a bit of a disappointment but honestly felt that it could be because of a very uninspiring leadership and reign. But this book on Akbar was also a huge let down.  Personally I felt that there is just so much more to write about Akbar to make it a very gripping and interesting read, sadly the book failed to deliver, in terms of content and quality of writing.

Only two Indian kings in history have been conferred the title of ‘the great’, Emperor Ashok and Emperor Akbar. Akbar though did not get a chance to study ,since at a young age he was crowned as the king after his father’s untimely death  but despite that he managed to bring in lots of changes in the way things were governed and was a far sighted king who did not give importance to religion. In fact he is credited with starting a new religious order Din-E-Ilahi which was borrowed heavily from various religions and which made him the head of the order. He was the first Muslim king who tried to bring harmony between the two religions Hindus and Muslims. The book instead of elaborating on these points speaks about his troubled relationship with his eldest son Salim as well as his immense faith in Abu Fazl. The book also fails to touch on the other great luminaries in his court, so there is absolutely nothing on Tansen, Birbal, Todarmal.

Salim his eldest son grows to manhood full of mistrust. He also makes the fatal mistake of falling for Akbar’s most voluptuous concubine, leading a rebellion, and realizing soon enough that Akbar neither forgets nor forgives easily. Salim finds himself in an unhappy and increasingly frustrating situation when Akbar shows his fondness for Salim’s son Khurram and making his intentions clear as to who he would rather see as the king after him.

The book though does justice by showing a side which is not spoken or written about much, of that, of his role as a father.  Akbar may have been a great king but he had his flaws too, this book manages to bring that out effectively.

So all in all of you are looking to read a book about Akbar as a great warrior or administrator this is definitely not the book you should pick up. Though book is fictional drawing inspiration from history yet the book fails to deliver. The book does seem inspired a lot by bollywood movies on the life and times of Akbar.

The book as a continuity to first two books is a good read but as a standalone book it is a letdown. 

PS: The book cover -as impressive as ever!

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