Picked this up tonight to start reading it and ended up finishing it. I received an advanced copy for free through First Reads and was really pleased...morePicked this up tonight to start reading it and ended up finishing it. I received an advanced copy for free through First Reads and was really pleased with it. I will be honest and say I didn't understand all of it, but it had excellent imagery and metaphors. I definitely want to keep it and read it again.(less)
I received an advanced copy of this book through First Reads. I hadn't realized before it came that it was the third in a series of books, but it work...moreI received an advanced copy of this book through First Reads. I hadn't realized before it came that it was the third in a series of books, but it works as a standalone.
I didn't know much at all about the Moghul empire before reading this, so I didn't have a lot to go on. I think it would have been better for there to be an introduction to the book telling what information was available about the people in the book, and saying what parts were imagined (without going into specifics/spoilers). There is an epilogue which goes into this, but I think there should have been something at the beginning as well.
It was nice to read about a different area and culture than I normally do; there are many books on European dynasties but I haven't seen many about Asian ones.
I worried as I started the book that it would be mainly set on the battleground as it goes there immediately. I was glad that although there are several battles that wasn't all to the story. However, there was quite a bit of perhaps gratuitous violence and grotesque descriptions that I had trouble getting through.
I thought the book did a pretty good job of making one feel empathy for the main characters, despite the trouble one could have relating to those who were basically hideously rich and powerful warmongers.
It is highly emphasized that Akbar, the main focus of the book, considers all religions equal. This and a few other modern-sounding ideas are true to him at least in part, according to a bit I read about the historical person. However, it didn't ring true to me that he would be truly so into other religions, for example, and that it wasn't more about a political agenda (though this is mentioned). Perhaps I'm just a pessimist.
It is often mentioned that Akbar will tolerate no disobedience, yet in a few places is openly defied by the women in his life, who I doubt would have been allowed to do so. The characters seem to venerate women at times and others treat them horribly; inconsistency is not abnormal but this is not accounted for at all.
The novel came off as having been well-researched; however, I, personally, highly value historical accuracy when possible, and the author (or authors, as it is actually written by a couple) admits to deviating from the record at times. I noticed a few more discrepancies while briefly reading about the real Akbar and Salim.
One thing that really bothered me was that Akbar has hundreds of concubines and many wives, yet is said to have only three sons (his son Salim, too, is said to have many wives but only three sons). It seems pretty ridiculous to claim those are the only children he had. This also bothered me because no daughters are mentioned at all, and they did actually exist; even if they weren't the focus of the book I found it almost offensive that they were excluded altogether.
A mystic appears several times in the book, who was an actual person. However, I didn't like that everything he said came true, as the novel is supposed to be "real."
The novel spans many decades and sometimes will skip ahead without giving much indication what year it now is or how old the character is supposed to be. I think it should have shown this better.
As far as the structure of the book, I noticed a few typos, especially missing commas. There were several awkward sentences I noticed, and at least one I read several times and never could quite make sense of. The entire book used single quotes instead of double quotes; I don't know if there is any standard for this but I found it distracting. Also, the foreign terms used in the book are defined in the text (as in "Bairam Khan, his guardian and khan-i-khanan --commander in chief-- had tried.... "). This is done even while a character is talking. I would have much preferred the terms to be either defined in footnotes or an index. I did discover an index by accident as I was reading, which gives notes on many of the chapters. I think there should have been some sort of indication within the text that there were notes.
All in all, it was an interesting book, and I think it does a good job of painting pictures. It didn't really enthrall me though. If you do choose to read it, I'd recommend reading some about the historical figures since the book doesn't stay entirely true to the record.(less)
The synopsis and cover for this book are very misleading. For one thing it's not set in the "early 1900s" --it is Prohibition era. The cover looks mod...moreThe synopsis and cover for this book are very misleading. For one thing it's not set in the "early 1900s" --it is Prohibition era. The cover looks modern for no apparent reason, and also the characters do not look as they are described. Also the ménage à quatre is far from being the main plot of the book. It does occur, but is relatively brief.
Most of the book actually deals with Molly, the main character, and her developing relationship with a woman, Jess. This is actually not that interesting or realistic, as they seem to fall in love almost instantly but without even talking that much or anything. A lot of the book also deals with Molly having trouble coming to orgasm, a worthwhile subject but not one I found the author treated that well necessarily.
Some of the way the characters spoke and their attitudes seemed strangely modern. The author also would call characters "gay" and "bisexual" in turn, which I found at least problematic and at most offensive. I did like that their were characters who were at varying stages of the Kinsey scale, though this wasn't explained well.
One gay character the author repeatedly mentions how very effeminate he is, which comes off offensively, as though that was all there was to say about him. Also there is a lot of New Age-y, The Secret sort of blather.
One character seems very offended at one point at the mention of casual sex ("sex without love") but considers it later with no apparent conflict. I don't agree with the dilemma in the first place but the inconsistency bothered me as well.
The worst offense to me was that during the ménage à quatre Molly is spanked and says she feels pain and humiliation, but doesn't say anything because she is receiving the treatment from her lover and friends. I hated this.(less)
Very fun book. I loved the author's Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series and this wasn't quite as good to me, but it still had me laughing at loud i...moreVery fun book. I loved the author's Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series and this wasn't quite as good to me, but it still had me laughing at loud in parts. One thing I liked was that there were a few boys Tallulah showed interest in, and it wasn't patently obvious which one she might end up with in the series. I definitely want to read the next one.(less)
Fun, short update to the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series tying in the character from Louise Rennison's other series, Tallulah Casey, who is her...moreFun, short update to the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series tying in the character from Louise Rennison's other series, Tallulah Casey, who is her cousin.(less)