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The Temple Dancer: A Novel of India (Novels of India #1)

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  503 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
India, 1657.
When Maya, a graceful, young temple dancer with a mysterious past, is sold into slavery, she enters a world of intrigue, violence, and forbidden love. Bought by a Portuguese trader and sold as a concubine to the dissolute vizier of Bijapur, she embarks on a treacherous journey.
In a caravan led by the dangerous settlement man Da Gama, she travels by elephant on
ebook, 384 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published August 22nd 2006)
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Ivana S.
Jan 29, 2009 Ivana S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my humble opinion.. :)...

This book was amazing. I think it's great choice for people who read for escapism, full of adventure, passion.., an exciting story wrapped in the magic of 17th-century-India..

Although, those who are not into India's culture might not like it that much, because it's really a book about India. It's my number one book, not because it's the best book ever written but because the way it made me feel, took me away, to destinations described inside, made me feel like I w
Dec 26, 2008 Tracey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really enjoyable read. I was up until the late night finishing this wonderful book, just had to get to the end.

The beginning moves along at a fast pace as we find ourselves drawn into the characters of the novel. I felt like I too was languishing on the howdah: the chatter of a thousand birds and the view of the dense overhanging trees so close I could touch them. India was in my soul.
Adventure was just around the corner - I could smell it.

So go the words flowing gracefully out before me. W
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I'd like to give this book 3.5 stars. Although it has a rich plot and well defined love stories, something just did not click for me. I enjoyed reading it, but I learned very little about India during this era, which is why I am not shelving it as historical fiction. I recommend it almost as chick lit.
Michelle Stie
Sep 27, 2008 Michelle Stie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in India/Indian history
I found the female characters compelling, but the plot just plodded along. The author does try to be literary/artistic, but oftentimes the prose is ponderous and can be irritating.
Aug 03, 2009 Ariela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I would say this but John Speed now rivals Philippa Gregory as one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. Set in India in the year 1657, “The Temple Dancer” is a riveting tale of two women: Lucinda Desana, a beautiful Goan heiress; and Maya, a devadasi (temple dancer) who is bought by Lucinda’s family and sold as a concubine. They meet in Goa and travel through the Western Ghats by elephant, each heading towards a fate that has changed by the time their journey has ended. ...more
May 16, 2017 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greed, politics, commitment, courage, love, and historical scholarship blend to form this vibrant Indian tapestry which is the author's excellent adventure-packed first novel. The ending was not as I predicted. But, then, I learned this was but the beginning of a planned trilogy. I shall certainly read the next tale.
Ana Mardoll
The Temple Dancer / 0-312-32548-7

"The Temple Dancer" is a fine first novel for a promising new author, although I am surprised by the description's reference to a "proposed trilogy", given the rather 'final' nature of the epilogue. Though not without its faults, the novel is an engaging read and is worth a look, particularly for fans of the genre.

To give credit to the author, the story is engaging and moves along nicely, with the exposition as fascinating and well written as the action. Speed ha
Aug 05, 2015 Laxmi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For being Speed’s first novel, "The Temple Dancer" is an exquisitely planned and written, with a rich and constantly contouring story line placed in the backdrop of 1600s Moghul India. The characters are plentiful and beautifully developed, and the scenery and background are described to such an illustrious detail that it almost feels as though we are there in the rocking howdah perched atop the elephant. Despite the tumultuous nature of the plot, the story does chivy along at a rather slow plac ...more
Jan 12, 2010 Alexis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
This was an AMAZING book! I was totally enchanted. Last week I read a book that touched on India. This past week I just had to get my hands on something better. I am so glad I chose this!

The story centers around two women—Maya and Lucinda, in 17th century India. Lucinda is the last female of a Portuguese family in Goa, India. Her family, in trying to save itself and its fortune, purchase Maya, a devadasi or temple dancer, to sell as a concubine to the highest bidder in far away Bijapur, India.
Ashley Arthur
Oct 30, 2012 Ashley Arthur rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
I found this book on a list of historical fiction novels about India, so I picked it up at my library to give it a try. It is the first in a proposed trilogy (only 2 of the 3 books published so far) about Maya, a priestess who is sold as a slave.

In this story, Maya is bought by the Portuguese Dasana family as a gift for a political official they want to influence. The head of the Dasana family sends their "settlement man" De Gama and his niece Lucinda with a caravan of people to take Maya to her
Laura Hamadi
I like how another reviewer described this book as "pause-filled" writing. There were times when the story would be racing and exciting. And other times where the plot was so slow I struggled to the next page. I liked this book, but not enough to read the whole trilogy.

I found myself hating the character of Maya, because I didn't feel that her personality and characteristics were consistent. One minute she seemed indifferent, then weak, then passionate, etc. Even Speed makes mention in the back
Sep 01, 2010 Cayleigh rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
This novel is set in Hindustan (India) in 1657. We follow the Dasana family as they set up to make or break their fortunes in politics. I'm not quite sure what I expected this book to be after I read the the synopsis, but I do know that it wasn't quite it. It was good though, I haven't read many books at all set in India and there were quite a few characters that I really liked. Maya, the dancer in the title, Lucinda Dasana, Pathan & De Gama. I especially grew to despise The Brotherhood (eun ...more
Sep 02, 2011 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was ok. Slow going. I can't describe this type of book well. I've read this type before, and all I can come up with is "pause-filled writing". Which is to say, not a lot of action or "ah ha" moments, but writing which makes you pause and think. Think about what it must have been like to be a colonist in India, a Christian in a country where Christianity is not dominant, a woman bound by culture, tradition, and, literally, corsets and layers of clothing. Throughout the book, I wanted Lilly t ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Not bad...Interesting cast of characters, the men being extrememly grotesque and cruel and the women beautiful and weak at times. You have Maya, a brainwashed temple dancer that honestly believes that opening her body to men is serving her god. Lucinda is a pampered Portuguese girl that is all about dresses and corsets and the woman she is in the end is amazing and I enjoyed reading her change. Geraldo, Victorio, and Slipper (and about 20 other fellows) are the most disgusting, vile men I have e ...more
Jun 30, 2012 Cristine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love reading books set in other countries and time periods so that I can learn about other cultures but I had a hard time getting into this book at first because it just seemed to be giving me information rather than telling me a story.

However, once the plot picked up, I understood that the background information was necessary so that I would grasp the intricacies of the plot, the characters, the mannerisms, the relationships, etc.

I absolutely loved Maya, what a fascinating compelling complic
Oct 26, 2009 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with a few other reviewers that this book had a slow start.
And it was front-loaded with culture and history lessons that could've perhaps been woven throughout... I also thought John Speed could've developed the characters a bit more before throwing them into an epic of action and romance. It wasn't always clear to me who the allies were and who the enemies were. Instead of feeling anticipation about which character would surprise me next, I just felt confused at times. But it was in tho
When I started the book, I instantly fell in love with the backdrop and the potential of the story. I wanted to rate it 4 stars right away. The story progressed with many interesting characters, forbidden relationships, secret admiration etc. But alas! I found the story developed around Lucinda and not Maya,the temple dancer. The supposedly high points/climax in the book made the story, which started as a masterpiece of painting, made the book look like spicy RomCom with a splash of action in pl ...more
Jun 14, 2016 Manibharathi rated it it was amazing
Again, I found a best of the books.
This is just wonderful and let me in awe. Thanks to the author for taking on a trip on western ghats of old India. Filled with nature, I loved the drizzling rain, grape vines, buildings, hills and steep paths, and yeah, the falls in which Slipper fell and died. I was excited to see him die (wicked grin)
The Belgaum palace was filled with love. The journey was full of adventures. Sometimes da Gama reminded me of Bheeshma in Mahabharata. Goodness always succeeds!
Ann Marie
This book led me to believe that the subject was the temple dancer and it would take place from her view. There was very little in the book that took place from Maya's view however. I felt as if the author took on too much story in here and was unable to finish any of them. The main characters she tended to kill off or send into the unknown and you don't really know what happens to them. As for Maya her character is inconsistant and not well developed. It would have been better if there was eith ...more
Rachel Willey
I loved the setting of the book, ancient India is a fantasy land. But I felt that all of the characters could have been more developed. Also the main story seems to be a side point in the plot which was weird. He introduces so many characters and almost gets the reader intrigued but never fully develops any of the characters which results in some of their actions later on in the story seeming odd or out of place. This is a trilogy so I'm considering reading the next one to see if this is one of ...more
Jan 22, 2016 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
The premise of this book is what hooked me, but I don't really feel that it delivered. I love books about India, so I'm no stranger to their culture and language. I liked the book, I just didn't love the boom. We are treated to a range of characters and we get a lot of different perspectives (which I love), but for me Speed's writing style was too rambling, and he was trying too hard. And I really hated Lucinda and Maya. His female characters were a weak point in the store for ne. ...more
Nabila Amr
John Speed erzählt hier eine wunderbare und farbenprächtig Geschichte über Indien. Das Buch liest sich flüssig und man verliebt sich sofort in die einzelnen Charaktere. Einfach wunderbar zu lesen. Auch das Ende ist überraschend. Zwar ist die Spannung hier nicht aufbauend, aber man kann das Buch trotzdem nicht aus den Händen legen.

Ich kann es nur empfehlen. Wenn man einfach sich in eine farbenprächtige Welt entführen lassen will ohne viel Spannung, ist dies Buch empfehlenswert. Einfach zum entsp
Feb 22, 2009 Janae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very excited to read this book. It sounded very intereting- 1697 in India. I ended up liking it, and wondering what the next books in the series will entail, but I found it a bit confusing and hard to read. The love stories are good, but again, it seems a bit hard to follow. I am tempted to actually read it again. I think I would like it better the second time. One of the reasons I found it difficult to read was because of the culture it entails- after looking up information on Wikipedia, ...more
Mar 28, 2010 Suze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice change of pace from the books I've read lately. I always enjoy historical novels about other cultures and countries. I wish there had been more historical background in this book, but the story was engrossing. At times it was hard to put down.

I liked the characters and the story line, and basically really enjoyed this book. I'd recommend it especially to anyone who enjoys reading about the splendors of India and it's people.
Kai Sousa
Sophomoric fiction writing with lots of plot holes. The history and languages in the book are well-researched, painting a rich tapestry of scenery as a lovely backdrop against a decent story line of intrigue and manipulation. Characters are largely under-developed and dialogue often feels awkward. Being that this is the first book of a trilogy, some of these things may be fixed or improved in book two, but book one didn't exactly leave me awaiting it's arrival on baited breath.
Sep 04, 2008 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book would be a tad more historical so I could find out more about Indian culture in the 1500's, but still get a fun fiction story out of it...well, I did get a fun fiction story out of it. Not so much any historical information. This would be a great book to take to the beach or any location where you just want to relax and not have to concentrate, but if you're looking for something to make you think I'd find something else entirely.
Sarah Wagner
The Temple Dancer is a tale of adventure which follows a unique group of travelers on their journey in seventeenth-century India. The characters are well-developed and each possesses their own history, but none dominates the narrative. The plot consisted of a great deal of intrigue, both inside and outside the court of a sultan, and had a few unexpected twists. The characters fit well into their world and I enjoyed this novel so much I am eager to read the sequel.
So far, very interesting! It's got a lot of the great qualities of a fantasy book (exotic, engaging setting) but apparently is based on real historical facts, as much as they can be discerned, of India in the late 1500s. The plot is pure romance/fantasy, the characters are quite good, and I'm really enjoying it, though I'm not sure it's fine literature.
Feb 25, 2008 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008
The book started off slow, and jumped around between several different story lines that all kind of tied together. You have to get into the book to see how they all connect together. Some of the story lines were really awesome, some were okay and not as well defined as they could be. Over all I really enjoyed the book, even the slow parts.
Oct 02, 2009 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this one awhile back then got interrupted. I decided to finish it this week and I am so glad that I did. It's a excellent story filled with interesting characters, adventure, intrigue, and a little bit of mysticism. The story came together very well despite the many characters playing their games against each other. It all fits together in the end. I thought it was really enjoyable.
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John Speed began studying Indian history, art, and religion while still in high school. For more than thirty years, his explorations deepened as he became absorbed in tales of the fall of the Mogul Empire and of the rise of the rebel prince Shivaji. During his many visits to India, he has stood on crumbling battlements, crawled through lightless caves, bathed in sacred rivers, wandered through for ...more
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Novels of India (2 books)
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“When you dance, sister, you feel in your heart the blessing of the Goddess, her peace, her kindness. But when you are with him, then the power of the Goddess is in your heart, crashing through you. The Goddess is no thing of stone. The Goddess is breath, desire, despair. She is the green of the brushing leaf, the baby's cry, the lovers bite, the fragrance of the rose. You feel the Goddess moving through you. ” 7 likes
“The road is not certain, and the end of the journey cannot be seen. ” 7 likes
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