The Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan


About the Author

Indu Sundaresan was born in India and grew up on Air Force bases all over the country. Her father, a fighter pilot, was also a storyteller—managing to keep his audiences captive and rapt with his flair for drama and timing. He got this from his father, Indu’s grandfather, whose visits were always eagerly awaited. Indu’s love of stories comes from both of them, from hearing their stories based on imagination and rich Hindu mythology, and from her father’s writings.After an undergraduate degree in economics from India, Indu came to the U.S. for graduate school at the University of Delaware. But all too soon, thestorytelling gene beckoned.


Review

The Mughal empire is crumbling. With the death of his beloved queen Mumtaz, Emperor Shah Jahan slowly loses interest in everything while his sons conspire and scheme to gain control of the empire. 

Princess Jahanara is only seventeen when the weight of the imperial zenana is thrust upon her after her mother’s demise. Shah Jahan’s favourite daughter, she is the most important woman in the harem and is forced to remain at the Mughal court all her life, caught up in the intrigues and power politics of her siblings, sacrificing her own desires for the sake of her father. 

This book is the last in the Taj Trilogy by Indu Sundaresan. I did fall in love with Mehrunissa who makes an appearance but this book is primarily revolves around Jahanara and her siblings. However, Jahanara doesn’t have Mehrunissa’s cunning or enterprising nature. She was born with privilege while Mehrunissa really had to fight and struggle for it. Jahanara seems like a mute spectator while her siblings engage in politics and a fight for the crown and there is a semblance of frailty in her dealings with them. There are two relationships that are intriguing – Jahanara’s rivalry with her sister, Roshanara and Aurangzeb’s relationship with Jahanara. Roshanara’s favourite brother is Aurangzeb while Aurangzeb is constantly vying for acceptance and love from Jahanara making it an interesting dynamic. 

This books describes the construction of the Taj Mahal in several chapters and the inspiration from it comes from the tomb that Mehrunissa built for her parents making it ironic considering it was Shah Jahan who banished her from the kingdom. 

This book is a lovely end to the trilogy, though Indu Sundaresan manages to make you want a book on Aurangzeb as well.