A tall, yellow-haired young European traveller calling himself 'Mogor dell'Amore', the Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the real Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the whole imperial capital. The stranger claims to be the child of a lost Mughal princess, the youngest sister of Akbar's grandfather Babar: Qara Koz, 'Lady Black Eyes', a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, who is taken captive first by an Uzbek warlord, then by the Shah of Persia, ...
A tall, yellow-haired young European traveller calling himself 'Mogor dell'Amore', the Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the real Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the whole imperial capital. The stranger claims to be the child of a lost Mughal princess, the youngest sister of Akbar's grandfather Babar: Qara Koz, 'Lady Black Eyes', a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, who is taken captive first by an Uzbek warlord, then by the Shah of Persia, and finally becomes the lover of a certain Argalia, a Florentine soldier of fortune, commander of the armies of the Ottoman Sultan. When Argalia returns home with his Mughal mistress the city is mesmerized by her presence, and much trouble ensues. The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man's world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other - the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire and the treachery of sons, and the equally sensual Florentine world of powerful courtesans, humanist philosophy and inhuman torture, where Argalia's boyhood friend "il Machia" - Niccolo Machiavelli - is learning, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. These two worlds, so far apart, turn out to be uncannily alike, and the enchantments of women hold sway over them both. But is Mogor's story true? And if so, then what happened to the lost princess? And if he's a liar, must he die?
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How does one balance high expectations with an unbiased review? Rushdie's latest book is exemplary with superlative imagery and an awesome command of language and the (expected) inside jokes. It's a well researched (going by the bibliography) text that looks at the intersections of history between Mughal, Ottoman, Florentine and North American geographic areas during the Renaissance. it's an important juncture in history and Rushdie is adept at juggling numerous themes. However something seems to be missing from Rushdie's earlier work from the 1980's. The tricks and flourishes seem like we've seen them before and the text ends up as historical fiction...which is not bad; just far fetched (perhaps).
It's a problematic book for me because it raises so many uncertain responses. But maybe that's what good books are supposed to do?
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