In a somewhat skewed version of the 17th century, a yellow-haired man calling himself Mogor dell'Amore presents himself at the court of the Emperor Akbar with a tale to tell. This is the story of that tale and what came of it.
This book feels different in tone to the other Rushdie novels that I've read (Midnight's Children
and The Satanic Verses
), feeling more raucous, livelier and more sensuous, while keeping the beautiful language and literary bent of its predecessors. This isn't a bad thing; although I really enjoyed those other books, it's nice to see the author continuing to experiment with his tone and style.
This is a story about stories and there are several instances of stories within stories (within stories) as the tale makes its eventual way to its conclusion. It always hovers on the edge of fantasy, never quite committing itself to an event actually being magical, but always shying away, like one of the Mughal concubines shyly hiding behind a veil.
One thing I've always loved about Rushdie is his characterisation. When he introduces a new character, he stops for a moment to discuss the character, to draw out his or her history and traits. This shouldn't work, it should feel clunky and slowing down the story, but I found myself getting really involved in them and that it enhanced rather than detracted from the story.
A fun story, then, and possibly a good entry point for people who haven't read Rushdie before.