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The Mountain of Light

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  709 ratings  ·  113 reviews
From the internationally bestselling author of The Twentieth Wife, a novel based on the tumultuous history of a legendary 186-carat diamond—originating in India—and the men and women who possessed it.

As empires rose and fell and mighty kings jostled for power, its glittering radiance never dimmed. It is the “Mountain of Light”—the Kohinoor diamond—and its facets reflect a
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Washington Square Press
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Average rating 3.40  · 
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 ·  709 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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Lisa B.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I know nothing - zero, zip, nada - about the history between England and India. I also did not know anything about the Kohinoor diamond. This book tells a combination of both in a very interesting way.

The books begins with the story of who owns the Kohinoor diamond in the early 1800s. Each chapter ends with how the diamond gets passed to the next owner. The subsequent chapters move forward in time, spinning a little tale surrounding the diamond, until it finally comes to rest with the Queen of E
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Mountain of Light" is the story of the Kohnihoor diamond, which was once considered the largest diamond in the world. The book follows the diamond's movement from India to England and shows how it affects the lives of those that come into contact with it. This is a fascinating historical fiction about a famous stone and has some really fantastic settings that will appeal to my fellow armchair travelers!

The settings were the best part of the book for me. I absolutely love armchair traveling
Joy Matteson
I really wanted to like this novel. Books about a priceless diamond worth a king's ransom in India? Yes please. The fact that the diamond made its way to Queen Victoria during the rise of British imperialism is a story that should be told. I just didn't think it was told well by this author. I listened to the audio version, and I cannot get over how slow and confusing the narrative seemed. Since the reader follows the story of a diamond, not the narrative arc of characters, the reader must keep ...more
Dawn Michelle
So. Much. Information.
All over a diamond. And who should rule. And land.

This was a very good read, even with my minor complaints above. I learned so much about India and Pakistan and how England basically took over India in not a good way - who can truly believe that a 10 year old boy [The Maharajah] knew what was going on when he signed away his lands and titles and wealth? It was a very interesting read and I am now really into learning more about this time
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Apr 28, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: own-it
Received this book as a gift today! Thank you my dear friend Alice. It's a moving-on-to-a-new-job gift and she felt the title "Mountain of Light" was apt! :-)
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Of all the books I have reviewed, this is the only one which I actually asked an author for a review copy. How could I not, when it is one of my favourite author’s book? I’ve loved every book of hers so far!

Indu Sundaresan was kind enough to send me an e-book as I was not located in the right geography for a proper book.

The enchanting story of the Koh-i-Noor, the diamond that captured the imagination of so many people, rulers and common man alike. A tale of loyalty, treachery, duties, betrayals,
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful novel ... this is what I said about it on my blog, A Writer of History.

The Kohinoor diamond was said to be cursed because this fabulous jewel often changed hands when disaster or defeat occurred. And sure enough, following England's subjugation of India, the Kohinoor was taken from the treasury of Dalip Singh, heir to the throne of the Punjab, and sent to Queen Victoria.

"Although the Kohinoor diamond has belonged to the monarchs of England for the last hundred and sixty-three years, th
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
So disappointed. This is the kind of book I love. Perhaps it was my mood, but it never really captured my interest. I wavered as it was really a 2 1/2, but cant stretch to good.
Sep 02, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: first-reads
This is a beautiful book! I am looking forward to reading it.

Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting historical details but rather long winded.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Using the kohinoor diamond as a symbol for power and majesty, Sundaresan tells the story of India, in particular the Punjab region, pre and post British colonization. The most poignant story in the novel is that of Maharaja Dalip Singh, who readers see go from a glowing, happy child to a broke and broken old man. It is unbelievable and sickening the amount of wealth the British stripped from India in a relatively short period in history, all through the belief in their own superiority to the "na ...more
Shalini M
The first book by Indu Sundaresan that I read was ‘The Twentieth Wife’, and I was absolutely enthralled by it. I loved the sequel (The Feast of Roses) too. On a visit to Blossoms, I had been looking out for her collection of stories, ‘In the Convent of Little Flowers’; I didn’t find it, but I came upon ‘The Mountain of Light’. It belonged to the same genre (Historical fiction), and the subject – The Kohinoor (or Koh-i-Noor, as is described here) – appeared really interesting

After I bought it, i
Pankaj Goyal
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The Mountain of Light’ is the story of the Kohinoor diamond, the diamond which captured the imagination of so many people. This was once the largest diamond in the world. It is believed that the name Kohinoor was first used by Nader Shah in 1739 CE when he took this diamond in his possession. Prior to this date, the name Kohinoor was not used. This diamond was on one occasion mounted on the Peacock throne of Shah Jahan, the Mughal ruler who commended the building of famous Taj Mahal. At present ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant piece of historical fiction. Once again Indu Sundaresan has brought history to life in this well-researched novel tracing the story of the 186-carat Kohinoor diamond from 1817, when Maharajah Ranjit Singh held Shah Shuja captive to procure the highly coveted gem, through years of war and royal intrigue in the Punjab -- a time of bloodshed, betrayal, and annexation -- to the time of English rule when the priceless gem is secreted overseas to Queen Victoria in England. The Mountain of ...more
Parwati Singari
The Mountain of Light.
Author: Indu Sundaresan
Publisher: Harper Collins India.
ISBN: 978-93-5116-091-5
Genre: Historic fiction.
The Kohinoor, the mountain of light as the Shah of Persia named is believed to have been given by the Lord Krishna to devotee, from there it’s physical mention is in the memoirs of the Mogul king Babur. It has then traversed in out of India to its final resting place in the crown of England.
The story opens in the court of Maharaja Ranjith Singh of the Punjab Empire who
Bindu Manoj
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
More often than not, as your expectation levels increase, the chances of getting disappointed also rises exponentially. Sad to say, the rule has been proved yet again. I could not put down the first two parts of her Taj trilogy and had jumped at the chance of getting a review copy of Indu Sundaresan's latest novel, based on the mysterious and controversial Kohinoor - The Mountain of Light.

The story starts with Shah Shuja and his wife Wafa Begum imprisoned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The only thing
Marcy prager
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Mountain of Light is the Kohinoor diamond, acquired, along with other unusual, splendid jewels and gems by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Punjab. The Maharajah, an honored ruler, housed a dethroned ruler of Afghanistan, Shah Shuja, in great style, with the hopes of acquiring the Kohinoor diamond from him, a 186 carat, flawless diamond. When the ruler's wife, Wafa, continued to delay the transfer, the Maharajah stopped all food and water from coming to them until the Kohinoor diamond was br ...more
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This book is definitely worth a read. Its a 3.5 according to me.
The most remarkable thing about it is that though the book is divided into sections, with each section having its own set of characters and the previous characters just occasionally mentioned, this book could easily have come off as something segmented, could have lost the sense of continuity. But it does not. It forms a beautiful narration of the various phases in the history of the Kohinoor. And I would definitely recommend it to
This is rough. I really like Sundaresan's other books. I am disappointed that over half of this book is told from the POV of the British colonizers. I am unsure why this route was chosen. The first few chapters were excellent, and all about one Indian ruler and his wife who are captive to another Indian ruler (Maharaj Singh) then it just sort of all went downhill. We follow a British woman for a bit and her courtship with an Italian man, the Kohinoor diamond makes a few very brief appearances, b ...more
Suzanne Tremblay
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
viewing India during the Raj from the Indian perspective is interesting and shows me a view point suspected but really unknown. Sundaresan manages a balanced perspective: not all colonialists are limited minded petty individuals, but not all infused with openmindedness either. The central "character" is the Kohinoor itself, although it remains silent.
The book is divided in 3 sections, each presenting a moment when the Kohinoor changed hands and how the characters who were around the Kohinoor the
Lynn Horton
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
The Mountain of Light is a very interesting book, a work of historical fiction about the Kohinoor diamond. The first two hundred pages read like historical fiction, but then there's a brief suspense/thriller passage. The book returns to historical fiction to finish the tale.

Sundaresan does a lovely job of depicting pre-colonial India, and an unfortunately good job of exposing a little of the underbelly of colonialism. (It was not Great Britain's finest hour, in my opinion.) I think this book is
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was expecting this book to focus on the Kohinoor almost exclusively. It really only shows in bits and pieces.

More than the story of a massive diamond, I found this to be more the story of the slow subjugation and take over of another people. The agony and pain that the Maha Raja expresses at the end is enough to convince me of that.

I enjoyed the variety of the perspectives in this story, but I was also amazed by the unhappiness and desperation that seemed to mark each character. There was no
Tanveer Ali
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
After the Taj Trilogy I expected a fast pace version of Kohinoor's story, however was disappointed as the book is drag at one too many occasions.

Some parts I am still wondering if it were necessary , also I expected to read more about Kohinoor which surprisingly makes the least appearance in the book.

I have loved how Indu sundaresan has craved her previous novels and it's out of sheer respect for those I dragged myself to finish this.

For those who have gotten interested in Sundaresan's other nov
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Well-written and interesting, but it just didn't hold my attention like her other stories (The Twentieth Wife, The Feast of Roses, The Splendor of Silence) have, which explains why it took me almost 5 months to finish it.
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a good book with its long lush chapters that give you a push for reading one more page every time you try to place a bookmark. The authoress writes meticulously about every detail like in a western fashion. Fancy yourself a leisurely reading.
Historical fiction based on the lives of people who owned the Kohinoor diamond. Takes place in the 19th and 20th centuries, mostly in the lands held be the Punjab Empire and British India.
Raheel Shaharyar
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had to abandon reading this one. I just couldn't get through it. Sad because she's one of my favourite authors and I LOVE the Twentieth Wife series but this did not live up. It was slow paced, confusing and just not as well written as her previous books
Emil Nuñez
I had high hopes for this one. It was good because I got my always-welcome history lessons, but overall not greatly impressed.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Definitely not my favorite Indu Sundaresan book.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wish you could give half stars
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Indu Sundaresan was born in India and grew up on Air Force bases all over the country. Her father, a fighter pilot, was also a storyteller—managing to keep his audiences captive and rapt with his flair for drama and timing. He got this from his father, Indu's grandfather, whose visits were always eagerly awaited. Indu's love of stories comes from both of them, from hearing their stories based on i ...more

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