In 1632, the Emperor of Hindustan, Shah Jahan, consumed by grief over the death of his empress, Mumtaz Mahal, ordered the building of a grand mausoleum to symbolize the greatness of their love. Against scenes of unimaginable wealth and power, murderous sibling rivalries, and cruel despotism, Princess Jahanara tells the extraordinary story of how the Taj Mahal came to be, describing her own life as an agent in its creation and as a witness to the fateful events surrounding its completion.
To escape a brutal arranged marriage, Jahanara must become the court liaison to Isa, architect of the Taj Mahal. She is soon caught between her duty to her mother's memory, the rigid strictures imposed upon women, and a new, though forbidden, love. With exceptional courage, Jahanara dares to challenge the bigotry and blindness at court in an effort to spare the empire from civil war, and to save her father from his bellicose son, Aurangzeb, a man whose hatred would extinguish the Islamic enlightenment from the Mughal Empire. To do so she must enlist her Hindu friend, Ladli, and her guardian, Nizam, as spies, and urge her brother, Dara, the designated heir to the throne, down from the ivory tower of his philosophical inquiries. The stakes become ever greater when Jahanara must deceive her husband as to the true father of her child, and must protect those closest to her from her enemies' retaliation.
As a princess and a mother, as a sister and a daughter, Jahanara will find herself faced time and again with impossible choices, and will discover the real meaning of her regal birthright. In Beneath a Marble Sky John Shors recreates an historical Hindustan brimming with breathtaking intrigue and containing the secret truth of the Taj Mahal for a world still in awe of its enduring majesty.
The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers dont finally meet somewhere,
theyre in each other all along.
In the early days, when I was still an innocent girl, my father believed in perfection.
Once, musing over his empire, contemplating the splendor he had created, he composed a poem. On the vaulted ceiling above his Peacock Throne he had an artist inscribe in gold, "If there is a paradise on the face of the Earth, it is this, it is this, it is this." Simple words from a simple man. But how true they were.
Sunrise over the Yamuna River has often prompted me to think of Paradise. From the broad shoulders of the waterway I have cherished the sights before me as I might cherish the face of my lover. This mornings views are as inspiring as ever, especially after having been away in hiding for so long. To my right sprawls the magnificent Red Fort. Opposite, awash in the suns...
This is a highly readable first novel combining elegant prose, exotic setting and historical accuracy - recommended for any who enjoy quality historical fiction, with a dollop of romance thrown in for good measure.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (420 words).
When reading historical fiction I always
like to know what is fact and what is
fiction. So, two years ago, when I first
recommended Beneath A Marble Sky in
hardcover, I asked John where fact ended and
fiction began, to which he answered, "About 65% of
Beneath a Marble Sky is based upon hard
facts. All of the royal characters, for
instance, were real people and acted as they
do in my book. I did make up a few of the
characters such as Nizam and Ladli, and the
relationship between Jahanara and Isa is the
result of my imagination."
He is working on a new book but that is having to ...
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