Review: Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani
Author: Anita Amirrezvani
Publisher: Scribner, Simon and Schuster Paperback March 19, 2013/Hardcover June 5, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Labels: Historical fiction, Iran, Conspiracy, Islam, Muslim Women, Safavi Dynasty, 1500's, 16th Century, Royalty
Rating: 4 Stars
The Safavi dynasty ruled in Persia 1501-1722. It was the first ruling empire after the Muslim conquest. Shi'a Islam was the authorized religion. Their empire encompassed not just modern day Iran, but also Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Afghanistan.
In 1576, a young princess named Pari Khan Khanoom, wanted to be ruler after her father died and the empire was in turmoil because a will had not been written. Pari was intelligent, insightful, and knowledgeable about the responsibilities of being a ruler. She had a unique blend of personality that set her apart from other princesses and other women of her era. She was also as skillful and calculating as any male heir who wanted to take the throne. After her father's death she worked tirelessly to prevent corruption and hostility in the court. Her reputation threatened and provoked other's who wanted to rule. Pari stands apart in Persian history as a woman, "Equal of the Sun".
When I first began reading this story I did not like it, I wondered what possessed me to want to read and review it. It seemed to be a slow start, I was not becoming invested in the story, and the heroine (Pari) of this story was told from the voice of a eunuch named Javaher. The later reason was a tempting reason for me to read this story, yet the tone of his voice seemed to keep Pari at a distance which is why I was not becoming involved in her character. Later I figured out the reason behind keeping Pari at a distance is the eunuch worshiped and idolized Pari, as well as out of respect he would have naturally kept a distance from a royal family member especially her being a female. About half the way through the book I noticed Pari and Javaher's trust for each other deepened which led me to become more involved with the characters lives.
The focus or thrust of this story is Pari's inner-workings in court between her father's reign and the next Shah. Included is: Pari's daily life, her limited relationships, and her dominating and intelligent personality versus what was expected of her.
An additional focus is Javaher's life story: his family, how he came to be a eunuch, his personal life as a eunuch, and his mission.
What I disliked about this book.
- Slow start.
- There were a few overly stimulating cheeky sentences, for example: "Her thin body seemed as fragile as a long-necked rose-water sprinkler made of glass." page 56
- A strong education about the Muslim world of 1576, life in a harem, court intrigue-schemes-alliances, and vivid descriptions of lavish clothing.
- I had never read about, and I knew little about, eunuchs; I can state now I've been fully educated.
- Pari is not the only strong hero/heroine character in Equal of the Sun.
- The story has an adequate closure.
If you've made it this far in my lengthy review I wanted to mention one more thing. I'd read other reviews about the sexual tone in the story. Yes, there are a few detailed scenes in the beginning of the book, but nothing I felt was sensationalistic.
Thank you to Scribner, Simon and Schuster for my free review copy!
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