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.
Giveaway is open: US
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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.
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