Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review: The Mountain of Light by Indu Sundaresan

History has a deep marking engraved on the minds of people. Every story it has in it gives a detailed outline of what happened or what might have happened at that moment of time. What remains of it are the writings and the narratives which has been passed on from one generation to the other. Author Indu Sundaresan in her latest venture "The Mountain of Light" traverses a road which in has a strong bearing on the history of mankind. So is this history alluring enough to quench the thirst of readers? Let's find out. 

By the time Queen Victoria slipped the Kohinoor on her wrist, the gem had traveled around the world, changing hands over the centuries from one ruler to another in Persia, Afghanistan and India. The fascinating story of this 105 carat diamond opens in 1830, when the Indian Maharajah and founder of the Sikh empire, Ranjit Singh, takes possession of the massive jewel that has been passed from man to man, king to king and emperor to emperor, through blood shed and destruction, since the 1200's. When Ranjit Singh dies, four of his sons are slaughtered in wars with the British and the diamond is left to Prince Dalip Singh, a six year old child. The British governor general orders that the mountain of Light be secreted out of India in 1850 and the teenage king Dalip Singh follows the diamond to London to officially present it to the queen as a spoil of the Sikh War. He is feted and petted by the British monarchy for a long while until he realizes that all that Britain gives him cannot make up for the loss of his country and its celebrated diamond. Told in her inimitable trademark style, Indu Sundaresan's The Mountain of Light is a wondrous and historically rich tale, as clear and as dazzling as a diamond itself.

First look at the title and the cover and the court of the king and an attractive title makes it a perfect set up for history buffs. The blurb talks about Kohinoor and it's journey throughout the world and it's impact on the history. It's a good blurb considering the fact that the book is a historical narration. 

The story revolves around Kohinoor diamond how it is passed on from Shah Suja and his wife Wafa Begum when they are imprisoned by Ranjit Singh the king of Punjab and then he goes on to have it in his possession for years before his empire breaks and disintegrates into pieces. The diamond attracts a lot of attention as Britishers end up seeking it from Dalip Singh the youngest heir to the throne of Ranjit Singh and after that how it reaches to Queen Victoria, the queen of England. In the whole process a lot of incidents and happenings revive the old myth and legends surrounding the precious diamond. This is what the story is all about. 

The historical tell tale in the book is marvelous and the freshness in narration and the theme of the book makes it a different offering for the readers. The Punjab empire has his presence felt in the book which is also a new experience for the readers. The absorbing narration and intricate details make it a bonus for the readers to enjoy till it lasts. First part of the book can be strongly related to the theme of the book. 

The downside of the book are certain characters like Emily & Fanny Eden. Their part taking away the story from it's original track. The Kohinoor diamond goes amiss in between chapters which takes the charm away from the story. Few characters could have been done away with very easily.

The story though an enlightening one and with a strong narration has a lot to reveal about the most precious ornament in the history of mankind has some loose ends too. Some parts exciting and some dragged make it a mixture of good and dull moments. But there is a lot to rejoice for history buffs in the book. 


3 OUT OF 5

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