Monday, December 14, 2015

Empire of the Moghul

Empire of the Moghul is a series of historical fiction novels written by Alex Rutherford (the pen name for Diana and Michael Preston). The series consists of six volumes covering the rise and height of the Moghul Empire in medieval India.

Raiders from the north
The first volume revolves around the story of Babur, heir to the ruler of Ferghana, Umar Shaikh. From his childhood onward, Babur vies against both foreign enemies and treachery from within his own court and family. Throughout most of his life Babur struggles to retain Samarkand, the ancestral capital of his family, repeatedly losing and recapturing it from his nemesis the Uzbek warlord Shaibani Khan. Babur's final seizure of Samarkand is rejected by the city's Sunni population due to the conspicuous aid of the Shiite Persians in his restoration, and he is eventually forced to abandon his ancestral homelands in Central Asia for new conquests in Hindustan. At his death in 1530, Babur controls an empire stretching from Kabul to Bengal.

Brothers at war
The second volume tells the story of Humayun, Babur's son and the second ruler of the Moghul Empire. Humayun is a well-meaning but dissolute ruler, prone to rash judgement and easily manipulated. Nonetheless Humayun successfully holds his father's empire for nearly ten years and conquers Gujarat before he suffers several setbacks that nearly cost him his throne. A combination of battlefield defeats from Bengali ruler Sher Shah and treachery from his half-brothers Kamran and Askari leave Humayun with only the Afghan portions of the empire.

Humayun spends the next fifteen years rebuilding his strength, partly with Persian aid. Though merciful to his siblings, their recurrent treachery forces Humayun to exile Askari and Kamran via a hajj to Mecca, with Kamran being blinded on Humayun's orders. Eventually Humayun and his son Akbar reconquer Hindustan after the death of Islam Shah, the son of Sher Shah. Barely six months after rebuilding the Mughul Empire, Humayun breaks his neck while falling down a flight of stairs.

Ruler of the World
Akbar, a bold ruler, faced many problems to control a vast kingdom. With many enemies, he had no one to trust, with his own milk-mother and brother planning to plot against him. He mercilessly crushed rebellions, entered into matrimonial alliances with the martial Rajputs, and controlled his son's ambitions to build the greatest kingdom of the subcontinent. He ranks among the greatest Moghuls.

Tainted throne
Jahangir, succeeded to his throne after his father's sudden death he was made a king. With hardships, he faced the enemies his father had.

The Serpent's Tooth
The fifth in a powerful and epic series of novels about the ruthless warrior emperors who ruled much of central Asia through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Moghul emperors are still bloodthirsty and entirely ruthless; they control a quarter of the world's population and have wealth beyond imagining. But this is the final flowering of a doomed empire and, while Shah Jahan mourns his dead wife and obsesses over the Taj Mahal, her monument, his son Aurangzeb is planning to take his father's throne, by any means necessary.

Traitors in the Shadows
The sixth volume covers the reign of Aurangzeb.

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