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The Far Pavilions

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  27,972 ratings  ·  839 reviews
Ashton, also known as Ashok, is born in India. His parents are an aristocratic English couple. When the boy is 6, cholera breaks out and kills everyone except for himself and his Hindu nurse. The nurse raises Ashton as her own son. He has a dark complexion, not so dark as the locals but enough to pass for one from the Northern parts of the country where people are paler. A ...more
Paperback, 958 pages
Published January 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1978)
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Best Historical Fiction
92nd out of 4,934 books — 19,129 voters
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Big Fat Books Worth the Effort
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Community Reviews

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Another one of my all-time favorites. I don't know how I stumbled on this book, but its worth the 955 pages (yeah really!).

What I liked best about this book is the exploration of the main characters alienation. He is neither British nor Indian, Christian, Muslim or Hindu, he's everything and nothing all at once. Actually I might recommend this book if you liked Life of Pi. Although I would say that this is a much more thorough and interesting tale.

The novel takes place in India in the late 188
Some books get into your senses. They fill your nose with the scent of a people, the lick of the sun on bare skin, the brazen gossip of silk sheets, or engulfs you with a composition of shadows that hints at something beyond line of sight. M.M. Kaye is a storyteller that makes you taste India. She takes her own life experience and, like Rudyard Kipling and Frances Hodgson Burnett, draws fairy tales in the sands of Southern India while tucked in at the bed of the Himalayans.
This is not just a
I can't believe I waited 25+ years to read this again! Oh well, the first copy I had I loaned out and never got back. I would give this 10 stars if I could, I had forgotten how good this book was. Thank you Amazon, for recommending books and Listmania -- so many wonderful books I would never have found or rediscovered without you! A truly wonderful story of star-crossed lovers, treachery, intrigue, heroism, honor and bigotry. The author has a great feel and understanding of India under the Briti ...more
Tadiana ♕Part-Time Dictator♕
I've been putting off writing a review for The Far Pavilions because it's so complex and epic that I feel like I can't do it justice without writing an equally epic review, which is daunting, but I've put this off for too long already and so we'll all just have to be satisfied with a less impressive but more manageable review.

The story takes place in India during the mid-1800s, when the British controlled India as part of their far-flung empire. Ashton Pelham-Martyn is the son of an English prof
This is one of those books I've had on my shelf for... freaking-ever, but it's always just sort of been there for a rainy day. Like one of those days where you feel like reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy because you want a romping good time, but sadly, you've already read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and you're not really in the mood for the wordiness that is Tolkien anyway - you just want all the fun and adventure without all the work.

Okay, maybe I'm the only one who has waited to read thi
"We go to find our Kingdom....Our own Dur Khaima--our far pavilions."

It is a big book packed with drama, great characters, romance, the thrill of battle, and adventure in faraway places, but it's also filled with thoughtful insights into national character and identity--and the complex web of cultures that defined the Indian subcontinent, the British Raj and Afghanistan in the late 19th century.

Special thanks to Diane Lynn, Tadiana and all my friends who joined in our buddy read and sharpened m
Reading this book was quite possibly the only good thing that happened to me in the year 1995. I've since re-read it in its entireity another four or five times, and skimmed through it and picked out my favorite passages at least a dozen times. It's a beautiful "sweeping epic" set in British colonial India, the story of "Ash", who spends the first part of his life believing he's the son of a Hindu serving woman in the palace of a rajah and is himself enlisted as a personal servant/favorite playm ...more
Diane Lynn
Buddy read with Hana, Tadiana, Kathy and Felicia in July 2014.

This was my third reading and it's still a favorite. Usually with a reread I tend to skip over some parts but not so with this one. I wanted to read every single word because this is such a wonderful story. I may have read more carefully because it was a buddy read, or maybe I just get more out of the books I read since joining GR, whatever the reason, this third reading was the best ever. I would refer anyone interested to the group
Dec 04, 2013 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Misfit
Magnificent book, telling the story of Aston and Anjuli ant the India struggle against Afghnistan.

The movie is available at You Tube. It is as good as this book, it's worth watching.
Felicia J.
It took nearly 5 months, but I have finally finished this epic tale of star-crossed lovers searching for a place to belong, set amid the political intrigues, cruelties and hubris of the British Raj. At almost 49 hours, it's by far the longest audiobook I've yet tackled. Narrator Vikas Adam was an expert guide, and much of the story had me utterly captivated. But this novel had a couple of glaring flaws that kept me from giving it 5 stars (although, in the end, it did seem to add up to more than ...more
A novel about India in the late 1800s. I've been putting off reading this book– despite it being hugely famous and people constantly asking me if I've read it– because I'm pretty sure it's going to be obnoxiously pro-colonialism. (The dedication, for instance, is to the author's husband and father-in-law, British soldiers who served in India.) But I'm not far enough into it yet to judge, so perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised.

I was quite amused by this passage, describing a woman who died after
A.R. Simmons
It has been some time since I read this wonderful book. As I recall M.M. Kaye lived in India and had a deep love of the subcontinent’s people. Today I am reading Kipling's Kim. I remember the leading character in Kaye's book as similar to Kim. The Far Pavilions is a saga (it's quite large) set in India during the Raj. It is sympathetic to British and their loyal subjects (sympathizers?), and presents an enlightening contrast to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I recommend The Far Pavilions to ...more
This is the best epic novel I ever read. It's an historical adventure/romance that takes place in colonial India. The book starts out when the protagonist, a young English boy named Ash is orphaned because of a cholera outbreak. He is then raised by an Indian nursemaid. Later as a young man he falls in love with a young woman, Anjuli, who has been promised to marry an elderly wealthy nobleman against her will. Her wicked stepmother selected the old man out of spite knowing he would die soon. Cus ...more
Deborah Blair
Mar 28, 2013 Deborah Blair rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like Historical Romances and/or want a taste of India and Afghanistan of the 1800's
Recommended to Deborah by: Afghan Refugees
Shelves: fiction
This is a wonderful book. A real epic novel of war and romance, it has been called a "Gone with the Wind" set in India and Afghanistan. It is a long adventure that weaves through many of the small "kingdoms" that made up India during the 1800's and the time of Britain's attempted hold on the country and its forays into trying to take over and hold Afghanistan.

M.M. Kaye, the writer, knew the landscape and territory she wrote about well because her father was a decorated, "Guide," in the British
Jul 11, 2011 Amy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
Wow, it seems as if I'm the only person who disliked the book. I was excited to read it, and only finished for my book club (yes, I do take one for the team now and then). For me it had several flaws and was painful to finish.

1. The narrative's flow is disappointing, things happen and then you're on to the next event with little transition, which made the piece feel rushed in that sense.
2. The detail that drowns you into boredom. She describes some things to the point of ad nauseum, but then do
I liked it. I didn't love it. After investing the time in this 960 page book, I admit I am somewhat disappointed. I really wanted to love it. I guess I was expecting an exciting adventure mixed with a beautiful love story. I got a long dry trip across the desert, a war story and a love story with very little romance. I did learn a lot from this story and I always appreciate that from a book. I learned about the culture of India and the caste system. I also learned about the second Afghan-Indian ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all M.M. Kaye fans
Next On:
Monday, 10:45 on BBC Radio 4

M M Kaye's epic of love and war, dramatised by Rukhsana Ahmad. Following the 1857 Mutiny, Ashton, a young English orphan, is disguised by his ayah as her Indian son, Ashok. And so - as he forgets his true identity - his destiny is set.

Sita / Narrator ..... Vineeta Rishi
Biju Ram ..... Inam Mirza
K-Daad ..... Sam Dastor
Ashok (child) ..... Joseph Samrai
Anjuli (child) ..... Nishi Malde
Hira Lal ..... Sagar Arya
Lalji ..... Nazim Khan
Daya Ram ..... Kaleem Janjua
Oct 26, 2008 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History buffs and Culture hounds
Recommended to Alison by: Julie
Despite the length, I loved this book. The characters, the places, the action and intrigue all held my attention to the very last page. Woven through the history of 19th century India is Ashton's struggle to find his place in society--his identity. He is a man with superior language skills and an uncanny ability to meld with local customs, yet he never is "at home." Always the outsider, he can never truly be himself, except with his "larla" (darling)...
A map in the book would really enhance the
The character I enjoyed the most in this book was actually India. It was fascinating to be introduced to the complex society, religions, culture, geography and history. The love and respect that the author has for India really shone through and I learned a lot.

The love story wasn't my favorite part - it felt like a Victorian melodrama, but that actually fits with both the setting/time of the story and, possibly, the age of the author. But once again, I feel very grateful to be a woman living no
Lisa (Harmonybites)
May 02, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Gerri, The Idiot's Guid to the Ultimate Reading List
You know that kind of novel where you turn to page one, and hours later blink and look down to find hundreds of pages went by? This is that kind of novel. Kaye was born, raised, and spent her early married life in India, and she and her husband came from a long line of British officers that served the British Raj. In fact, given the dedication, Walter Hamilton, a character in the novel, was related to her husband. So she certainly has the credentials to bring the India of the Raj to life, nor is ...more
This is not a book you want to start reading if you will not have lots of time to dedicate to it. My paperback is 995 pages and I took it with me to read on the plane on a trip to Europe.

While the book is fiction, it does provide an interesting glimpse into what life was like in India and Afghanistan during the 19th century. A British boy loses both parents in India and is raised by a surrogate Indian mother. He ends up being discovered for who he is when he becomes a teenager, and since he is p
Lee Anne
This epic tale (over 1,000 pages, but don’t let that stop you) is set in India during the British occupation. Ashton Pellham-Martyn is British, but because of his parents’ deaths has been raised by his Hindu nurse. When his relatives finally find out, he is sent to England for schooling. Once grown up, he returns to India to work for the British army, and his task is to organize the caravan escorting two Princesses to their wedding hundreds of miles away. Because of his upbringing, he is torn be ...more
I brought this audio edition with a monthly credit. (I succumbed after looking at all the cool narrators. Very good so far, this book aside).

I have no problems with the narrator, Vikras Adam is very good. I'm not sure if this book works best in audio form, however. GR friends whose reviews and opinions I respect greatly love this book, and for that reason alone I will give this a try in print version. But Ash is annoying me and I find some of the description to be rather repeatitive. Will try pr
A very satisfying historical fiction read. The love story is not overdone and the research is done thoroughly .
Reading this book is no small endeavor, but you will be richly rewarded for your effort.

The Far Pavilions is truly a sweeping epic saga set in India during the tumultuous period of 1850-1880. The story follows the birth of a half-caste orphan boy who lives with one foot in the West and one foot in the East, and the balance he must walk as a soldier in the British Corps of Guides as England, Russia and Eastern tribes try to hold and expand their influence. The vast group of characters includes ev
I loved this book!! The author did an excellent job at describing the characters, the setting, the people, everything...I really want to travel to India now :) I loved the main character Ash, although I found myself wondering "why can't he just wake up and see what is really going on???" But I still love him!
I also loved the message of the book of how sometimes we get caught in having to "be" one thing or another and our prejudcies sometimes prevent us from truly knowing another culture or peop
First things first: This book took me a week to read, which is a rare thing and I really enjoyed being able to devote a whole week to one book. It is 950+ pages, and I think the first 800 or so make up one of the best books I have ever read. I was transported from the first page, and I really feel like I got to know and care about an entire (and large) cast of characters. I enjoyed the history (with some clarifying help from Wikipedia), the love story and the adventure. The last 150 pages or so, ...more
Mar 21, 2013 P.I. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical, romance, adventure readers
Recommended to P.I. by: No one: picked it up on my own!
This book is not just an historical romance, it's a magnificent saga of British Ruled India that swirls around the love story. It's also not a typical romance--it spans decades, racism, social snobbery against the backdrop of Indian vistas. It doesn't contain any graphic sex or violence and there's no sweetly tied up happily ever after; it leaves the couple searching for a place they can be accepted, no guarantees. Oh, there's plenty of romance but it's real; deep and worth struggling for and it ...more
When I picked this up it was because I've been looking at the Guardian list. Did borrow it from the library twice, the first time I didn't even open the front cover, but someonelse wanted it so i had to take it back.
This time I started it, and though I read it in small bites at first I began to notice I was reading it in bigger chunks. Found a liking for Ash and his sense of justice, and the book as an adventure story worked. Anjuli however was a character that I couldn't warm to. Did feel at ti
Carey Combe
I was convinced I had read this a long time ago - now I'm not so sure. Enjoyable so far.
It started well and I found the beginning half very interesting but got a bit too 'romantic' for me - not only in the boy meets girl story - but in the depiction of the close-knit Guides, the 'third man' for Ash etc... I have read far better books on the stupidity and arrogance of the attempted empire builders in Afghanistan and this part, in particular, let it down for me.
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M. M. Kaye (Mary Margaret) was born in India and spent her early childhood and much of her early-married life there. Her family ties with the country are strong: her grandfather, father, brother and husband all served the British Raj. After India's independence, her husband, Major-General Goff Hamilton of Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides (the famous Indian Army regiment featured in The Far Pav ...more
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“They rode out together from the shadows of the trees, leaving the Bala Hissar and the glowing torch of the burning Residency behind them, and spurred away across the flat lands towards the mountains...
And it may even be that they found their Kingdom.”
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