When I found this book, I was intrigued by the description. A witty Muslim man’s mission to Kabul to meet the Great Shah to give a mysterious message when India was very much under the colonial powers. An interesting mix for a great conspiracy indeed, and on this aspect, the book doesn’t fail.
It starts in off in the house of the highly self-righteous Mussalman Mahmoud, who after the death of his father has to undertaken the burden of his entire family. Due to certain unforeseen circumstances, he ends up in jail. Once out, he is appointed by the British to undertaken a highly top-secret mission to Kabul in Afghanistan, which is the pivot of the Great Powers and deliver a mysterious message to the Great Khan. On the way back, he is attack by the Waziri tribes, to obtain unexpected results indeed. Mahmoud’s younger brother, Hamid’s story is woven in and out.
Set in the 19th Century, the book provides a rich display of the culture of ancient India. We see stereotypes being reinforced, mindsets set in stone and most of all, the inter-mingling of the Muslim and the Hindus. The book is at first, a love story. And no, not just romantic love, but rather a deep love for family and status, that was highly important at the period in time. In the backdrop, it forms a story of espionage, conspiracy, revenge, loyalty and political intrigue.
The book gives a host of knowledge about the life of the women behind the purdah, elucidating quite unheard of rituals and practices, such as the monetary compensation given during the marriage to the bride by the husband in case of a divorce. It is a rich portrayal of the British rule and the sentiments of the people towards the British. It gives a good view of the western powers’ outlook of India. All in all, this book is a good read for anyone interested in various cultures. But the book flaws in the sense that it moves too fast, with an overlapping of time periods and lack of details. The main question after reading the book would remain and also never be answered. At the end, you feel as though it shouldn’t be over. This is a lot more to write. But alas, that is not the case as the book is truly over.
Overall Rating: 6/10
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