Based loosely on the life of Princess Pari Khan Khanoom, Equal of the Sun is a riveting story of political intrigue and a moving portrait of the unlikely bond between a princess and a eunuch.
Iran in 1576 is a place of wealth and dazzling beauty. But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult. Princess Pari, the Shah’s daughter and protégée, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but her maneuvers to instill order after her father’s sudden death incite resentment and dissent. Pari and her closest adviser, Javaher, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, possess an incredible tapestry of secrets that explode in a power struggle of epic proportions.
Legendary women—from Anne Boleyn to Queen Elizabeth I to Mary, Queen of Scots—changed the course of history in the royal courts of sixteenth-century England. They are celebrated in history books and novels, but few people know of the powerful women in the Muslim world, who formed alliances, served as key advisers to rulers, lobbied for power on behalf of their sons, and ruled in their own right. In Equal of the Sun, Anita Amirrezvani’s gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, and love in the royal court of Iran, she brings one such woman to life, Princess Pari Khan Khanoom Safavi. Amirrezvani is a master storyteller, and in her lustrous prose this rich and labyrinthine world comes to vivid life with a stunning cast of characters, passionate and brave men and women who defy or embrace their destiny in a Machiavellian game played by those who lust for power and will do anything to attain it.
Filled with political intrigue, heartbreak, and passion, Amirrezvani's second novel (after The Blood of Flowers) is an intense ride through the fickle regimes of Iranian shahs in the 1500s. Javaher made the unprecedented choice to become a eunuch at age 17 in order to gain access to the harem and uncover the truth behind his father's murder. His plan seems to be working when he becomes a servant of the most powerful woman at court, Princess Pari Khan Khanoom Safavi (an historical character upon whose life the story is roughly based), but all goes awry when Pari's father, the shah, dies, and her brother Isma il assumes the throne. Pari tries to temper Isma il Shah's despotic rule, but as a result, her former allies turn against her. Desperate to restore order, the ambitious and reckless princess devises a treasonous plot, and Javaher must decide whether to jeopardize everything to help the woman he's come to admire or to step back as the fabric of his world unravels at the hands of a deranged shah. Saturated with color and emotion, Amirrezvani's newest is a provocative and thrilling historical.
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A riveting tale
"Equal of the Sun" is a fascinating, well-written novel that brings to life the world of the harem in 16th century Iran, chronicling the story of one of the most intriguing female influences in Persian history, Pari-Khan Khanum. Through the eyes of her trusted eunuch advisor, Pari's story of political ambition and devotion to her country unfolds dramatically as readers are brought behind the well-guarded doors of the harem and into an exciting, dangerous world of intrigue, duty, and betrayal of the Safavid Dynasty and the unsung women who fought to defend their nation from the greed, ineptitude and graft of their franchised male counterparts. Anyone interested in Persian/Islamic history, specifically from the perspective of those traditionally held back assuming that region's political power (women, eunuchs, racial/religious minorities), would find this a terrific read.