Author: Indu Sundaresan
Publishing Date: 30 August 2010
Shadow Princess is the third book in Indu Sundaresan’s Taj Mahal Trilogy and it proves to be a worthy sequel. This is the story of Princess Jahanara, the eldest child of Emperor Shah Jahan and Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Not much is known about this enigmatic princess but it is apparent that she was an intelligent lady with a strong mind. She was a brilliant architect as well- she designed the famous Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi.
Shadow Princess also narrates the building of India’s emblematic monument- The Taj Mahal. The tale starts in 1631, Mumtaz Mahal dies giving birth to her fourteenth child in Burhanpur. Shah Jahan is devastated on losing his beloved wife. Unable to cope with his loss, he decides to abdicate the throne in just four years of rule. His seventeen-year old daughter Princess Jahanara makes him understand the gravity of the situation and succeeds in changing his mind. But the damage his done. Shah Jahan’s decision to abdicate has unleashed an intense sibling rivalry between his two sons- Prince Dara Shikoh and Prince Aurangzeb. On the other hand, Princess Jahanara finds herself as the head of her father’s harem, a position given only to the chief queen of the emperor. Here her biggest rival is her sister Princess Roshanara, who won’t stop at anything to gain power over her.
Indu Sundaresan weaves a rich tapestry of Princess Jahanara and the sibling rivalries between her four brothers. The story of Taj Mahal is interleaved with royal power struggles and court intrigues. The plot is well-written, almost lyrical in its rich details. Sundaresan vividly describes the daily lives of the Mughals with intricate details like their jewelry, their clothes, food and most importantly their palaces.
The historical characters in Shadow Princess are so well-developed that they almost feel real. Indu Sundaresan has done a good job recreating the characters’ ambitions, power struggle, their grief, loss and their love. Readers will definitely find the characters relatable and believable.
In my opinion, The Taj Mahal trilogy is about celebrating women in power. Be it the shrewd and beautiful Nur Jahan or the fiercely loyal and brilliant Jahanara, women don’t need a man to gain power. I recommend Shadow Princess to readers who like reading about powerful women. Readers who love reading Historical Fiction, this is the book for you.