This book is fourth in the Empire of the Moghuls series. It covers the reign of Jahangir and the power tussle with his son, Khurram.
The book opens with an account of how Jahangir quashed a rebellion of his eldest son, Khusrau. He meted out harsh punishments to the rebels and imprisoned his own son. He also sent an assassin to kill the husband of Mehrunissa in Bengal.
Most of the first few chapters deal with how he brings Mehrunissa to the Agra court and bides time to court her. He marries after a certain period of time is over and falls completely under her spell. His second son, Parvez is addicted to easy life and wine. His third son, Khurram was beloved of his grandfather, Akbar. He is a worthy contender for the throne and Jahangir comes to love him best. The youngest son, Shahriyar does not seem smart enough for royal duties.
The Moghuls are extremely romantic, handsome and capable. But they are also bloodthirsty and do not hesitate to maim and kill their close associates and brethren to suit their own ends. The phrase to describe this is "Takht ya takhta" meaning "Throne or coffin".
The dire punishments meted out for rebellion does not seem to deter the Moghul Princes for making the attempt to seize the throne again and again. The pattern is repeated with every Moghul Emperor.
This is brilliant book about Babur's life in Ferghana as the crown prince. He is routed out of his kingdom and forced to live the life of a nomad, a pillager. When all his attempts at reclaiming his Kingdom fail, he makes towards Hindustan. He finds himself in his element here and puts down his roots after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi. Soon his empire extends from Kabul to Bengal.
This is, by far, the best book in the series. It is rich in detail about the life of Moghuls that we do not know much about, before they reached the shores of India.
The story continues with the tale of Moguls. After Babur, Humayun is the Emperor of Hindustan. The story of the Moghuls nearly terminated with Humayun when he lost a major portion of his kingdom to Sher Shah Suri.
Humayun had to fight against the treachery of his brothers and Sher Shah's Army to regain his lost empire. He did win it back but did not live long to enjoy its fruits.
His beloved wife, Hamida rallied to the cause of Moghuls by safeguarding the interests of her teenage son and successor, Jalaluddin.
This book seemed the weakest of the four that I have read, to my surprise. Maybe I was expecting a lot more from the book about the greatest of all Moghuls, Akbar the Great.
The book concentrates on the relationship of Akbar with his older son Salim. It is a shaky relationship, Salim is forever starved of any affection from his great father. It is his sons, Khurram in particular who are beloved of their illustrious grandfather.
The four books I have read so far are rich in detail. At the end of each book the authors make a list of their sources. They also list the actual sequence of events according to history and let us know whatever characters and events that were invented by them for the sake of embellishing the fiction. This, I feel, is the best part of their books. We get to know the facts as well as the fiction of the books.
I have ordered and eagerly await the arrival of the final two books in the series, The Serpents Tooth and Traitors in the Shadow.