Equal of the Sun: A Novel by Anita AmirrezvaniEqual of the Sun: A Novel by Anita Amirrezvani

Equal of the Sun: A Novel

byAnita Amirrezvani

Hardcover | May 7, 2013

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From the author of the internationally bestselling The Blood of Flowers comes a compulsively readable and gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, intrigue, and love in the royal court of sixteenth-century Iran.

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.

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 protégé, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but the princess’s 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, are in possession of an incredible tapestry of secrets and information that reveals a power struggle of epic proportions.

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. Anita 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.
Anita Amirrezvani is the author of  The Blood of Flowers, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, and a former staff writer and dance critic for the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times. She is currently an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
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Title:Equal of the Sun: A NovelFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:448 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.4 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 1.4 inPublished:May 7, 2013Publisher:ScribnerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1451660464

ISBN - 13:9781451660463

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This is a beautiful book.
Date published: 2014-09-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fascinating and unusual The Good Stuff Very well researched Fascinating information about Eunachs and their place in history Surprisingly fast paced, I was worried that I would be bored to tears, but the storyline keeps moving Plenty of political intrigue and murder to keep you glued to the story You can really see the authors love of the subject matter The poetry included is quite lovely, and quite dark and sarcastic which I enjoyed Princess Pari is a fascinating character, so fierce and strong, yet compassionate Interesting look into Iran and its murderous royalty -- man Game of Thrones has nothing on these guys LOL! So glad I wasn't a women during this time period -- I so would have been killed Interesting to see what happened during this period through the eyes of those who served royalty and how their fates were so intertwined The Not So Good Stuff Could have benefitted from some more editing. There are many instances of repetition that could have been taken out to make it a tighter story -- for example the constant mentions of having tea and dates was annoying (or could be just because after reading I had a serious urge for tea and dates and we were out of dates LOL!) Story does drag a wee bit, but less than other historical fiction of this subject matter The flowery language when they talk to anyone in power, while historically accurate, is seriously irritating Very disappointed that Javeher was a fictional character, as he felt very real Favorite Quotes/Passages "A fine silk rose can do well to hide The pompous ass who is hidden inside To know the truth that only God knows Look beyond the fineness of clothes. Seek much further to what is below the skin Shatter the barriers, discover what is within. By glitter and glamour don't be deceived Truth lies beyond what the eyes have perceived. Ask "What is just? What is true? What is real?" Only pigs devour garbage without a squeal. "The salutations were read by ambassadors from Murad III of the Ottomans, Akbar the Great of the Mughals, Zhu Yijun of the Ming, and Abdullah Khan of the Uzbeks, the most exalted and powerful rulers of the earth, as well as a few from those who ruled the less important Christian kingdoms to the west, Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth I of England, who were currently trying to vanquish each other." "Yet again, I was maddened by his lack of statecraft. After you kick a faithful dog, even if it has misbehaved, you would be well advised to throw it a bone. Otherwise, don't be surprised if it sinks its fangs into your throat. But it was Pari's task to try and tame him, since she had the most to lose, and instead she had merely managed to make him growl." Who Should/Shouldn't Read Historical fiction lovers will enjoy, especially if they have interest in Iran Those interested in political intrigue and royalty will be ensnared by this 3.5 Dewey's I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review
Date published: 2012-06-11

Read from the Book

Equal of the Sun PROLOGUE I swear to you on the holy Qur’an there has never been another woman like Pari Khan Khanoom. A princess by birth, a strategist by the age of fourteen, fierce but splendid in her bearing; a master archer, an almsgiver of great generosity, and a protector of prostitutes; a poet of uncommon grace, the most trusted advisor to a shah, and a leader of men. Do I exaggerate, like a court historian writing flowery panegyrics to a leader in the hope of being rewarded with a robe of honor? No such gift is forthcoming, I assure you: I am a man without a protector. I wrestled over whether to attempt this work, since I am neither biographer nor historian. Despite the danger, the ignorance of the men around me compels me to set down the truth about the princess. If I refuse this task, her story will be misrepresented or distorted to become a tool of those in power. Court historians report only the best known facts about how royal women have led troops into battle, deposed shahs, killed their enemies, and thrust their sons into power. They are forbidden from observing the lives of these women directly and therefore must rely on rumors and invention. As Pari’s closest servant, I not only observed her actions but carried out her orders. I realized that upon my death, everything I know about her would disappear if I failed to document her story. But I must proceed in the greatest of secrecy. If this book were discovered by the wrong man, I could be executed, for I have committed monstrous deeds and made mistakes that I would prefer not to reveal—although what man hasn’t? Man is flawed by his very nature. His ears hear only what they wish; God alone knows the absolute truth. Perhaps, now that I think of it, I exaggerate slightly in saying that Pari was the only woman of her kind. She came from a dynasty that bred valiant women, starting with her grandmother Tajlu Khanoom Mowsellu, who had helped elevate her own ten-year-old son, Tahmasb, to the throne; and her aunt Maheen Banu, who advised Tahmasb until she died. By then, Pari was fourteen and wise enough to take Maheen Banu’s place, and she reigned unchallenged as her father Tahmasb’s advisor, above and beyond his wives, until his death almost fourteen years later. But Pari’s deeds outshone those of her foremothers, and her boldness knew no bounds. When I think of her, I remember not only her power, but her passion for verse. She was a poet in her own right and lavished silver on the poets she admired, keeping bread and salt on their tables. She had read all the classics and could recite long sections from them. Of the books of poetry she loved, a single tome stood out above others: the Shahnameh, or Book of Shahs, in which the great poet Ferdowsi recounted the passions and struggles of hundreds of Iranian rulers. During the time I served her, one story from that great book—about the usurper Zahhak and the hero Kaveh—guided our thoughts, directed our actions, and even invaded our dreams, so much so that I sometimes wondered if the story was about us. We turned to it for advice, wept over it in despair, and drew comfort from it in the end. It guides me still, as I celebrate Pari for the sake of generations to come.

Editorial Reviews

“A dazzling historical novel of ancient Persia, a fairy tale of universal resonance, EQUAL OF THE SUN is a story of love and ambition, loyalty and intrigue, the eternal anguish of a heart—and a country—at war with itself. —Gina Nahai, author of Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith and Caspian Rain