Sunday, 6 December 2009

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Empire of the Moghul: Raiders from the North - Alex Rutherford


The epic story of the rise and fall of one of the most powerful and opulent dynasties in history.

It is 1494 when the ruler of Ferghana dies in an extraordinary accident. His only son, twelve-year-old Babur, faces a seemingly impossible challenge. Young Babur is determined to live up to the example of his great ancestor, Tamburlaine – Timur the Warrior – whose conquests transformed the face of the earth from Delhi to the Mediterranean, from wealthy Persia to the wildernesses along the Volga. But he is dangerously young to inherit a kingdom.

Before Babur can summon enough warlords to declare him the rightful king of Ferghana, plots against his crown, even his life, are hatching. And soon, as his obsession with Timur's legacy and the fabled city of Samarkand grows, and Babur becomes a man, he will discover that even the bravest and most fearless leader can be betrayed. With the wisest of advisers and most courageous of warriors by his side, Babur can achieve a great destiny and found an empire in India, but every step of his journey will be fraught with danger, in a world of tribal rivalries, rampaging armies and ruthlessly ambitious enemies.


History is full of heroes waiting to make the jump from fact to fiction. One such example is the character of Babur who as the last descendant of Timur seeks to save his bloodline from being wiped from existence by barbarians as well as fending himself politically from the multitudes of hangers on, those who seek to influence him and profit from his largess. Its an interesting and different novel and whilst I don’t even pretend to know much about the area’s involved or the timeline for this King its been a tale of exploration although it has felt disjointed in places as it seems to jump from well written prose to something a little amateur. Now this could be due to the novel being written by a couple under the one name or it could perhaps just be the fact that I didn’t feel a great connection with the principle character as its based on the original diaries of this king. It’s definitely a series I will continue to read as I do have a fascination with the time period but I’m hoping that the differing parts gel a little smoother in future novels.

Other than this, the only other qualm I have is the characters name. With one of the supporting cast being named Barburi I did, at times get a tad confused with the hero of the piece and this cast member and whilst historically you can’t do much about this, I would have forgiven the authors the change of name of this cast member to avoid such a mess.

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