This book is extremely interesting, atleast for those who take even a little bit of interest in history and historical characters (I know there are many who would just run away even at the mention of history..). Written by Alex Rutherford, it is well narrated account of Babur’s life and initial phase of Moghul dynasty in India. I think this is a wonderful example of fluid narrative where you do not even feel like keeping the book down before you have finished it (but you will have to as it takes a bit of time to read over 400 pages).
The novel begins from the time when Umar Shaikh, ruler of Ferghana dies in an accidental death, leaving a twelve year Babur amidst courtiers and external enemies who are too keen to rob him of his right to rule his kingdom. But with the help of his father’s loyal aide, Wazir Khan and support from his mother, grand mother and sister – Kutlugh Nigar, Esan Dawlat and Khanzada respectively- Babur manages to crown himself the king of Ferghana. Soon after he occupies Samarkand, a kingdom ruled by his uncle as well but Babur is immature and the enemies are shrewd.
Babur struggles, makes mistakes, is betrayed by those he trusts, loses his kingdoms, even ends up surrendering his sister to Shaibani Khan, the barbarious Uzbek leader but he perseveres with the support of close ones. And when finally luck smiles at him, it is almost incredible! He becomes the ruler of Kabul.
Even though Babur rules Kabul, he is never satisfied. He has lost his two kingdoms that were close to his heart. Moreover, he has done nothing to prove himself a worthy successor of Timur, the great. There is an urging desire in him to do something to make his ancestors and successors proud. India appears to be a perfect choice. After all, even Timur, whom Babur idolizes, had captured Delhi. The beginning of the great Moghul Empire is successfully made.
Babur’s life is full of twists and turns. Events take place a time when least expected and what is expected is just a deception mostly. Even his personal life has issues which trouble him. How does Babur overcome all his problems? A fierce determination is for sure but there are other things as well. Towards the end of his life he appoints Humayun as his successor and dies.
The novel is just the first in the series of novels that will be rolled out by the author to capture the rule of the great Moghuls in India, but make no mistakes – this is a historical novel and the author has taken liberties. Characters have been created on the basis of account available. However, this is not to say that the entire novel is a fiction. Afterall, the source of this novel is Baburnama – the autobiography of Babur himself. Other than that, the book is thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. It gives a good idea about the life of Babur.
I loved reading this and really am looking forward to the next novel in the series. It is called, ‘Brothers at War’ and will carry the story forward from where this book ends.
My recommendation for the book. It is definetly worth reading.