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Monday, October 21, 2013

THE MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT by INDU SUNDARESAN






The Mountain of Light

The story of the 105 carat diamond comes into focus in 1830. It is in the possession of Ranjit Singh the founder of the Sikh Empire and the then current Indian Maharaja. The diamond has a chequered history peppered with plenty of bloodshed, war and destruction. The rulers felt that possession of this diamond would give them some "other" power over bickering rulers so it was of immense importance to the Maharajah's to own it.

At this point in time in the story we also delve into the politics of the kingdom of Ranjit Singh. The negotiations of the British to try to bring the kingdom under their control, the manipulations and way the East India Company works knowing fully well that with Ranjit Singh's demise the kingdom will be fragile and fractured with several sons vying for the throne. We also have Dalip Singh a 12 year old boy who finally ascends to the position of Maharajah totally under British domination. 

The machinations of the Court, the infighting amongst the various wives to elevate their own offspring to the throne has been the subject of lots of stories and has also been the cause for the downfall of many a kingdom in India. Strong rulers not leaving a clear line of ascension seems to be a recurring theme and this is no exception. 

The story of the Kohinoor diamond brilliantly told and how it eventually reaches Queen Victoria is entwined with the story of the Maharaja and his Court. The sad end is also very descriptive - including that of Dalip Singh his son who ends his days far away from India. 

It was sad to read how Dalip realized that he was never quite accepted in British society  and that by being "brown" despite all the riches, titles and so called acceptance by high British society, he was never quite one of them. The realization came to him late and saddened him as it did the reader. The emotion and feelings of Dalip Singh are portrayed beautifully in this novel. 

Rich in description, rich in historical detail I truly am glad that the author sent me this book.  I would like to recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about this period in Indian history which was of immense significance for both India and Britain.  This is no tale from a history book but it brings history very much alive to the reader. You feel so very much that you are watching history being made in this book. 

1 comment:

Marie said...

this sounds like a really fascinating and moving book. i'm going to look for it!