Blurb (as on Goodreads):
MUHAMMAD WAS A GOOD MAN WHO DID TERRIBLE THINGS AND A TYRANT OF A SULTAN WHO TRIED TO DO GOOD.
When his father dies, Prince Jauna Khan succeeds to the throne of Delhi as Muhammad bin Tughlaq. His reign will prove to be epic and bloody, but unsurpassed in splendour, innovation and defeat.
A formidable strategist and remarkable scholar, the Sultan will go down in history for his brutality as well as his brilliance, unfairly remembered only as a cruel tyrant who might have been raving mad. His high-flown aspirations and grandiose ambitions may have met with crushing failure, but even so, Tughlaq was a great hero of the fourteenth century, albeit a tragic and fatally flawed one.
In this fictional retelling, Anuja Chandramouli, one of India’s best mythology writers, reimagines Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s life and times in incredible detail to bring to life the man behind the monarch.
Muhammad Bin Tughlaq- a tyrant known for his short temper, violent conquests, ambitious nature, and shrewd politics has been given a new story by Anuja Chandramouli and here’s is what I have to say: It’s bloody brilliant.
Tughlaq’s conquests have been documented widely by historians and poets alike, but behind this violent personality is a life of sufferings, regrets, and loss. The story begins when he rebels against the present Sultan of Delhi, followed by his controversial coronation and his final downfall in the hands of pestilence.
Being a character-driven plot, much emphasis has been given in writing each character who played a significant role in the Sultan’s life. Be it his family or his close associates and advisers, these characters are well formed. Tughlaq’s character especially, made a place in my heart because the author brought out all the sides to his character one by one and justified it with plot twists and political strategies.
Tughlaq’s life in this story almost resembles the one in history and a few characters and events have been added by the author to push the story forward. A flawed emperor, driven by his nature and his circumstances, Tughlaq can’t exactly be categorized as a hero or a villain. It is up to the readers to judge him and form an opinion about his reign and his life.
Chandramouli’s extensive research and storytelling skills shaped Muhammad Bin Tughlaq into a compelling and engrossing read. It’s one of those books that will surprise you in a positive manner.
*Grateful to the author and Penguin India for the physical copy. All opinions are my own*