Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani
Published: 2012 by Scribner
Source: Received e-galley from the publisher for review
Equal of the Sun is a novel set in a time and place not commonly seen: 16th century Persia. More common is its description of the power struggle after of the death of the reigning shah between rival faction within his own family, including his daughter, Pari; who seems the most able to take the position but of course cannot because of her gender.
Overshadowing this for me, though, was the story of Pari’s servant and closest adviser, Javaher, a eunuch. This is the part of the novel that just fascinated me. Javaher became a eunuch as a young man – by choice! – to prove his loyalty to the shah after his father, a member of the royal court, was executed on suspicion of treason. And frankly I don’t know much about eunuchs and their role in court life, other than they were the only men allowed in the harem; but Javaher’s character is so much more multi-dimensional than I expected. Not only is he Pari’s servant, but he is also her closest advisor, a role I did not expect for a eunuch. In addition, he is passionate both emotionally and physically with women, which surprised me; I gather from the narrative that this is because he became a eunuch later than normal.
Oh and if you’re a bit squeamish – or a guy – you might want to skip past the part where the process of actually becoming a eunuch is described.
The main plot of the novel — that of Pari’s battle with the men of the court , including two of her brothers — is interesting for its setting, but for me it’s not unlike other stories of the fight for power at that time in history anywhere else in the world. The language used though is extremely poetic and visual, sometimes to beautiful effect:
“.. ancient lusterware caught the light in alcoves and mirror work shimmered all the way to the ceiling, mimicking the radiance of the sun”
and sometimes ?:
“”I am honored to be your human handkerchief. Never fear, it was like bathing in a river of diamonds.”
I glanced at the gleaming mucus on my robe”
Overall, I did enjoy reading Equal of the Sun because I did learn something from it, but I can’t say that I loved it. Please be sure to head over to the other stops on the blog tour for this book and find out what other readers thought:
Monday, June 4th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, June 6th: Confessions of an Avid Reader
Wednesday, June 6th: Historical-Fiction.com Book Highlight
Thursday, June 7th: Broken Teepee
Friday, June 8th: Royal Reviews
Monday, June 11th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, June 12th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, June 13th: Man of La Book
Thursday, June 14th: A Bookish Affair
Friday, June 15th: Book Chase
Monday, June 18th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, June 19th: Bibliosue
Wednesday, June 20th: The Book Garden
Monday, June 25th: Col Reads
Tuesday, June 26th: Bippity Boppity Book
Wednesday, June 27th: Historical Tapestry
Thursday, June 28th: Enchanted by Josephine.
Friday, June 29th: Twisting the Lens