Book Reviews / Fiction / Historical Fiction

Book Review: ‘The Mountain Of Light’ by Indu Sundarsean

Title of the Book: The Mountain of Light Author: Indu Sundarsean

Published October 27th 2013 by HarperCollins India (first published October 8th 2013), ISBN 9351160912, edition language: English, Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
The Mountain of Light
My Rating: ****

‘The Mountain of Light’ is the story of the Kohinoor diamond, the diamond which captured the imagination of so many people. This was once the largest diamond in the world. It is believed that the name Kohinoor was first used by Nader Shah in 1739 CE when he took this diamond in his possession. Prior to this date, the name Kohinoor was not used. This diamond was on one occasion mounted on the Peacock throne of Shah Jahan, the Mughal ruler who commended the building of famous Taj Mahal. At present, it lies in the hands of the British Royal family. This book traces Kohinoor’s movement from India to England. The author has researched well in tracing the diamond’s changing location from one place to another.

This captivating tale of Kohinoor begins at the time when Shah Shuja and Wafa Bagum were imprisoned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and ends with Maharaja Dalip Singh’s life in England. This is an enchanting tale of Kohinoor which is ever-present throughout this book. The book revolves around the lives of those people who touched, owned, protected or even longed for this diamond. The book is divided into different sections, each dealing with a fascinating tale surrounding the diamond. Each of the sections takes the story forward and describes how the diamond gets passed to the next owner. The excitement and tension that prevail in Kohinoor’s world are authentically portrayed by the author. The author not only recognises but also beautifully describes the fears, anxieties, aspirations and actions that must have been gone into capturing this beautiful diamond in the historical times.

While the main theme of the book is Kohinoor, the characters around the diamond are well represented. The author has been successful in bringing these characters alive, especially the female ones (Wafa Begum, Maharani Jindan Kaur, Roshni, Emily, Fanny Eden and Lady Login). There is much that we learn of various characters both from the narrative and from the incidents presented in the book. Most of the characters have a representative function in this historical plot. The character of Dalip Singh has also been well portrayed and the changes involved in the transition of Dalip Singh’s childhood (a role of dependence) to adulthood (a role calling for maturity and independent decision making) are represented with sharpness and detail. With the use of various insights of human nature, the reading of ‘The Mountain of Light’ certainly gets a new dimension. The strength of Indu Sundarsean’s art is to present even a negative character from a human angle and thereby shed light on his likable weakness as well.

The author should be acknowledged on keeping this fiction as close to the reality as possible. However, what makes it a living reality in this novel is the ability of the author to give a mythical aura to factual details. While it is really difficult to imagine the amount of hard work gone into writing this book, the amount of research done by the author is really well paid off. I will strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading historical fiction.

(I won this in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway contest)

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