Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

A dazzling, dangerous novel of 16th century Iran


Iran in 1576 is a place of wealth and dazzling beauty. But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult. Princess Pari, the Shah’s daughter and protégé, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but the princess’s maneuvers to instill order after her father’s sudden death incite resentment and dissent. Pari and her closest adviser, Javaher, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, are in possession of an incredible tapestry of secrets and information that reveals a power struggle of epic proportions.

Based loosely on the life of Princess Pari Khan Khanoom, Equal of the Sun is a riveting story of political intrigue and a moving portrait of the unlikely bond between a princess and a eunuch. Anita Amirrezvani is a master storyteller, and in her lustrous prose this rich and labyrinthine world comes to vivid life with a stunning cast of characters, passionate and brave men and women who defy or embrace their destiny in a Machiavellian game played by those who lust for power and will do anything to attain it.

Legendary women—from Anne Boleyn to Queen Elizabeth I to Mary, Queen of Scots—changed the course of history in the royal courts of sixteenth-century England. They are celebrated in history books and novels, but few people know of the powerful women in the Muslim world, who formed alliances, served as key advisers to rulers, lobbied for power on behalf of their sons, and ruled in their own right. In Equal of the Sun, Anita Amirrezvani’s gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, and love in the royal court of Iran, she brings one such woman to life, Princess Pari Khan Khanoom Safavi.

Review by Mirella Patzer

Author Anita Amirrezvani has written a fascinating tale that takes us into16th century Iran. To be swept back in time to an exotic location and time is why fans of historical fiction enjoy the genre so much. It is evident that the author has done a great deal of research. Like in most stories that feature a harem, there is a eunuch – Javaher. He is extremely well portrayed, highly believable, and very, very real. He faithfully serves the heroine, Princess Pari, the Shah’s daughter. When the country is left without an heir, the political manoeuvrings grow out of control. Pari is more than capable of running the country and tries to take a hold albeit behind a leader of her choice. Javaher is willing to go to extreme lengths and risk his own life to achieve her goals.

There is plenty of intrigue and character machinations throughout the story that will keep your attention throughout this well paced plot. Lovely poetry is included in various chapters. The poems sometimes added to the sinister mood the author was trying to create or brought a touch of humor to various scenes. Pari made a fascinating character. In a world where women mattered little, she remained strong throughout, unafraid to confront powerful noblemen who would not hesitate to kill her. I enjoyed this novel very much and would not hesitate to recommend it to avid readers of historical fiction.

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