History is a confusing subject. There have been times when I absolutely hated it, and there have been times when I have been salivating for more. I’ve had vastly different experiences with Historical Fiction – I loved the fiction based on World War II, but apart from that this genre left a lot to be desired. Amidst this I started reading “The Lotus Queen” by Rikin Khamar which tells the story of the Rajput Queen Padmini and the kingdom of Mewar; and I was pleasantly surprised.
The Lotus Queen recounts the tale of Padmini’s marriage to the king of Mewar, and the subsequent attack by the Delhi Sultan to win over the beautiful queen.Padmini is very beautiful, and her fame travels from Chittor to Delhi whose Sultan wants to see her himself. This is a major disrespect to the Rajput kingdom, relations turn sour soon afterwards and the Sultan comes back to attack Mewar. The defense and final war of Mewar completes the story.
Although this book is based on an actual attack that took place in 14th century, the details known about Queen Padmini are sketchy at best. Here is where Rikin has taken the liberty to fictionalize the tale, and he has come up trumps with the characterization of Queen Padmini. There are a few other characters who appear throughout the book, but they were always the extra characters, including Padmini’s husband. Since the narration of the story was done by different characters at different junctures, I was wishing that at least a few characters be fleshed out more. But then this book is all about Queen Padmini.
The story runs in two parallel segments – one segment concentrates on the on-going war, and parallel flashback track is about the events leading to this eventuality. Even though every chapter is narrated by different people and each chapter has two timelines, the flow never got confusing. And it was a very good decision on part of the author to keep the book short, with so much content at his disposal this book could have easily converted in an epic, but Rikin has kept a tight leash on the story, and never allowed it to run amok. The editing has kept the plot taut and made the book a delightful read.
If you are even a bit interested in Historical Fiction, pick The Lotus Queen.
Addendum: This is an author requested review. Rikin asked me to review this book. Also, Rikin is a co-author of Urban Shots.