Drawn largely from the autobiography of Babur, the first Moghul emperor, this first of five planned novels about the Moghul empire is heavier on history than plot. The story begins in 1494, when Babur is 12 years old, and moves through the next 36 years, until his death. Babur is a descendant of Timur (Tamerlane to Westerners), a youth suddenly thrust onto a throne that he must defend against traitors and invaders, resulting in a quick education in leadership, torture, deception, merciless warfare, and unbelievable brutality. Babur's lust for power and glory lead him into vicious battles and deadly court intrigues where cruelty, treachery, destruction, and slaughter occur every day. The plot is thin, however, serving as a loose framework for Rutherford's exciting history lesson. The strength of this novel is not the story but the colorful depiction of savage leaders building voracious empires. (May)
Rutherford—a pseudonym for Diana and Michael Preston (coauthors, Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire)—bases this novel on the history of the Mogul Empire, founded in early 16th-century India. As a very young ruler of a small kingdom, Babar, a descendant of both Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, must become hardened to resist the many enemies who want to prey on his youth and inexperience. This is a sprawling, roaring epic of violent people in a turbulent time. It is rich with vivid and sometimes gruesome detail as Babar fights for his life and his perceived destiny—he wishes to be a conqueror like Tamerlane. VERDICT The first of a planned series on the rise and fall of the Moguls, this is well written and comparable to Conn Iggulden's Genghis Khan series; however, the obscure (to us) era and personalities may not have broad appeal.—Robert Conroy, Warren, MI
Simon Vance is a prolific and popular audiobook narrator and actor with several hundred audiobooks to his credit. An Audie(R) Award-winner, Vance was recently named "The Voice of Choice" by "Booklist" magazine.