This was a picturesque and engaging novel. It is a historical novel surrounding the building of the Taj Mahal and the lives of a few people (some real, some fictional) that were involved.
John Shors did quite a bit of research regarding the building of the Taj Mahal as well as the political history and the life scenarios in 17th century Hindustan (currently India in large part as well as parts of Pakistan). Using text as well as paintings he was able to craft an incredibly descriptive story of life as the Emperor's daughter. The story is told from her voice and he does a good job speaking in the female voice. At no time during my reading did I think, "well, this is just what a man would think that a woman would think, say or do at this point."
I very much enjoyed reading about the history of the region with the wars between the different tribes and religions. It seems little has changed in that realm in the hundreds of years that have passed. The author took some artistic liberties with regards to his love story of Jahanara, the daughter of Shah Jahan and the voice of the story. In the book her relationship with her brother, Aurangzeb, is venomous. In reality, however, it seems that it was a cool and politic relationship but they did make amends in later life unlike in the novel. Also, it appears that she never married and had no children.
In the novel much is made of how power-hungry and blood thirsty Aurangzeb was. It seems that this was an apt description in large part. He was not the benevolent and loved ruler that his father had been. He did have his older brother executed and did kill his other brothers in battle to gain the throne. He was also an extremely devout Muslim who ruled against music in order to cause the Hindus to be unable to perform religious worship as music was integral in their worship. It seems many Hindu temples were destroyed under his rule. He strongly encouraged all under his rule to abide by or convert to Islam and follow the rule of Islam strictly.
The love stories told within the novel are well crafted and believe-able. They brought a richness to the telling of the story that would not have existed had the story been told from a strictly historical standpoint. The building of the Taj Mahal is a love story that is true and it was a wonderful aspect of the book but the fictional love stories help carry the book beyond the Taj Mahal and help complete the history of the time.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in historical novels or anyone just looking for a light and enjoyable read.