An opulent story that takes you back to an age when the Moghuls ruled India
The Tainted Throne (Empire of the Moghul) by Alex Rutherford is by far one of the most compelling reads I’ve come across in recent times. The fourth book in its series, The Tainted Throne is a tale of ambition, power and death. While the story is largely based on historical facts, Rutherford does bring in his own spin to the tale, making it all the more riveting.
The story begins with a brutal battle between Jahangir and his son Khusrao, who dared to rebel against his father to take over the throne of Hindustan. Jahangir crushes his son’s troops to return victorious to his palace. The emperor, who himself had overthrown his father to become the ruler, is in no mood to let one of his sons do the same, and by meting out the most severe punishment to Khusrao and his supporters, he sends out the message loud and clear.
However, the Moghul’s rule must go on and Jahangir needs a suitable heir to succeed him. He zeroes in on Khurram, who later goes on to become Shah Jahan, as his rightful heir. In the meantime, Jahangir marries Meherunissa, or Nur Jahan as she later came to be known, his long lost love. Even as the couple grow closer, their ties are strengthened by Khurram’s marriage to Arjumand (Mumtaz Mahal), Meherunissa’s niece. As Khurram continues to win his father’s trust through his loyalty and determination, Meherunissa, who has bigger plans for herself begins to feel threatened.
Meherunissa takes advantage of Jahangir’s addiction to opium and wine and begins to take control of the state and also gets her daughter, from her first husband, married to Jahangir’s youngest son and plans to make him the next emperor. As she continues to create a rift between Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the latter is forced to flee. How he then fights to win back the throne that is rightfully his forms the rest of the plot.
Rutherford’s graphic descriptions of the wars they waged and the plotting and planning brings history alive in a way few other books have managed to. He minces no words when he describes the horrors of the wars and the savagery that once took place. But his careful choice of words makes the book an easy read.
The book is definitely a must read if not for anything but to get a feel of India’s past.
Name: The Tainted Throne
Author: Alex Rutherford
Publisher: Hachette India