Empire of the Mughal: Raiders of the North (Rutherford #1)
About the Author
Alex Rutherford is the pen name of Diana Preston and her husband Michael. Both studied at Oxford University reading History and English respectively. They are keen travellers and have now clocked up visits to over 140 of the world’s countries.
I am fascinated about this time period in Indian history – the Mughal dynasty. It’s been something I’ve pored over for years now with an almost academic interest. Alex Rutherford has decided to dedicate each book to one Emperor and this makes it easier to comprehend not only the family dynamics but the changing political scenario and the opulence of that time.
The first book traces Babur’s conquest and lineage. Thrust with the kingdom of Ferghana at thirteen because of his father’s untimely death, Babur’s rule revolves around his battles with the Uzbek’s and their uncouth leader, Shaibani Khan on one hand and his love for the kingdom of Samarkhand on the other. He is blessed with good fortune in his advisors and friends but to rule and be respected as well as keep loyalty are hard lessons to learn and understand. To be King is a lonely existence and you can read that feeling in Babur’s decisions and thoughts. His discipline, his perseverance and his constant inner dialogue regarding his legacy and destiny are regular themes in this book. The women are a standout in this book too – Babur’s grandmother, mother and sister are such strong characters – constant in their support of Babur when he had no throne, home or kingdom.
Babur finally established himself in Kabul where he marries and has children. Despite having stability and finally finding a home, I found his restlessness here a bit frustrating as a reader. He never seemed to be at peace – with or without a kingdom. His constant need to reflect on what his ancestors had done made him set his sights on Hindustan and he started to establish himself here. The book ends with him dying, ensuring that his court knows that the rightful heir is Humayun, his oldest son – this choosing has consequences as there are other brothers of Humayun who think they are worthy. This sets up enough intrigue for the second book.
This is a pleasurable read if you enjoy this period and are genuinely interested in the way the dynasty came to be. The detailing in the battles and the tracing of his journey across miles really shows the kind of research put into the book. I loved reading it from the Emperor’s perspective and I’m pretty sure I will enjoy the next one.