Tuesday, June 26, 2012

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

Synopsis: Legendary women—from Anne Boleyn to Queen Elizabeth I to Mary, Queen of Scots—changed the course of history in the royal courts of sixteenth-century England. They are celebrated in history books and novels, but few people know of the powerful women in the Muslim world, who formed alliances, served as key advisers to rulers, lobbied for power on behalf of their sons, and ruled in their own right. In Equal of the Sun, Anita Amirrezvani’s gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, and love in the royal court of Iran, she brings one such woman to life, Princess Pari Khan Khanoom Safavi. 

Iran in 1576 is a place of wealth and dazzling beauty. But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult. Princess Pari, the Shah’s daughter and protégé, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but the princess’s maneuvers to instill order after her father’s sudden death incite resentment and dissent. Pari and her closest adviser, Javaher, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, are in possession of an incredible tapestry of secrets and information that reveals a power struggle of epic proportions.

My Thoughts: 1500's Iran is not a time period I read a lot about and having enjoyed Amirrezvani's previous novel The Blood of Flowers, I was really looking forward to reading this.  At the heart of the novel are Princess Pari Khan Khanoom Safavi-a young but formidable woman who was the favorite daughter of the Shah- and Javaher-a eunuch who joins Princess Pari's household and becomes her closest confidante.  This book is stuffed full of political intrigue and really gets going when the Shah dies without naming an heir and the court divides into factions advocating for different sons of the Shah to take his place as a God among men.

The story is told through the eyes of Javaher who voluntarily(!!!) becomes a eunuch at the age of 17 so he can serve the court, redeem his family name, and possibly discover who was really responsible for the demise of his father.  Javaher was by far my favorite character of the book and I think it is because he makes such an honest assessment of all situations encountered in the book and really evolves as the story moves along, digging deep and tapping into a sense of bravery he never knew he had.  I really liked watching the relationship between Javaher and Princess Pari progress.   As for the Princess, I got a sense right away that she is a woman ahead of her time.  Here is this highly intelligent woman who really has the best interest of her country at heart and is already adept at the game of politics but often makes rash decisions based on her frustrations which leads her farther away from her goal.  The novel is also populated with all the main players of the court some of whom prove to be most deceitful in nature.  The politics really fascinated me-there are rulers in the Safavi Dynasty whose deeds are so evil they make the Borgias look like a bunch of pansies!

The writing was beautiful although the ornate manner in which the characters sometimes addressed each other took some getting used to.  The book has a list of characters in the beginning and I wish it had included how to properly pronounce some of them.  I struggled with this a bit and a few times I got a couple characters mixed up.  The pacing of the book was also a little on the slow side at times.  Still, the story was very good and I loved both of the characters.  I did feel I got to "know" Javaher a little better than Pari and wish there had been even more about her in the story but it makes sense Javaher would feature more prominently since he is telling the story.  When compared to her first novel, I give The Blood of Flowers a slight edge over Equal of the Sun but this was still a good solid read about a time and place I knew virtually nothing about.  Also, just wanted to say-I totally love the cover for this book!

This book was provided to me by the publisher for participation in the author's tour with TLC Book Tours.  These are my honest thoughts on the book.

And now for the giveaway!  Up for grabs is 1 copy of Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani for one lucky winner!

Giveaway is open: US

To enter: Leave your name and email address in the comments.  One extra entry each will given for spreading the word about the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.

Giveaway ends: Midnight July 5th.  Winner will be announced July 6th.

For more reviews, giveaways, interviews/guest posts with author Anita Amirrezvani you can view the rest of the tour schedule HERE.

About the author:
Anita Amirrezvani is the author of  The Blood of Flowers, which was long listed for the Orange Prize, and a former staff writer and dance critic for the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times. She is currently an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.


  1. Thanks for a great review. Blood of Flowers has been on the TBR shelf for over a year. Because of this post I'll move it to the front, while hoping to win Equal of the Sun. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Wonderful review!! I've been on the fence about this one, but you've sold me!!!
    Please enter me! allisonmharper@hotmail.com

  3. This book looks great-- thanks for the giveaway!


  4. I'm so happy to see this book has come up for giveaway. I missed my chance to win one a few days ago. It looks fantastic, I'd love to win this copy. Thanks!

    Carl Scott: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    For an extra entry in the draw I tweeted a link to this blog post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/217660461854892034

  5. Terrific review! It's so interesting how you mentioned that the Javaher character voluntarily becomes a eunuch, because the author wrote a fantastic "Why I Love" guest post for Historical Tapestry (slated to run tomorrow) about why she enjoys writing about eunuchs. I hope you'll check it out!

    Thank you so much for the wonderful review and for being on this tour. We really appreciate it!

  6. Thanks!
    here is my tweet:
    and it goes also on my FB
    Emma @ Words And Peace
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  7. I've been wanting to read this for awhile! Thank you for this giveaway!

    volta2173 at sbcglobal dot net

  8. This book looks fantastic. I know almost nothing about this period of time.

  9. Blood of Flowers was a great read so I'm glad to see that she has a new work out. Please sign me up for the give-away. rammj99 at gmail dot com

  10. I would love to read this.

  11. This looks like a great book! I hadn't run into it, so I'm glad to see it. Always need new historical fiction, and it seems like those books are harder to find.

  12. Ugh! I don't know whether I can handle another book about a eunuch! (I read The Bells last year.) But I'm still interested! Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl At gmail DOT com

  13. This book sounds really interesting, and I love the history in it. Please enter me. Thanks!

  14. I didn't read this author's previous work but would like to read both books, now. Thanks for the chance to win one.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  15. I would love to read this!


  16. I would love to read this!