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Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani
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Equal of the Sun (2012)

by Anita Amirrezvani

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Young Javaher is the son of a murdered nobleman in 16th-century Iran. Willing to sacrifice his body in pursuit of uncovering the truth about his father's death, Javaher chooses to become a eunuch in order to gain access to the harem (women's quarters) in the royal palace. Once there, he eventually becomes a trusted servant and adviser of the royal princess Pari, daughter of the reigning Shah. When the Shah, who has four wives and numerous other children, suddenly dies without having named an heir, the line of succession is unclear.

Equal of the Sun is a beautifully written book, and it is based on real historical figures and events. The author's delightful prose and imagery made me feel almost as though I were present. Fantastic! ( )
  ryner | May 25, 2017 |
Equal to the Sun by author Anita Amirrezvani is a historical novel of 16th century Persian politics told by relating the story of Princess Pari Khan Khanoom, a favored daughter of the Shah, and her quest for power. The story is told by her trusted servant, eunuch, Javaher, who serves as her advisor, spy and confidant.

This story illustrates the difficulty of being an intelligent, ambitious woman who must battle for her very life in a time where women weren’t expected to show how politically enlightened they could be. Princess Pari plots and schemes behind the latticed screen of the harem. Her father appointed her as his advisor when she was only sixteen. When he died she had difficulty convincing the subsequent incompetent Shah of her value and had to make arrangements to have him murdered. She thought the next Shah would undoubtedly recognize her value, but unfortunately he came with a very ambitious wife.

I liked the first book I had read by this author, The Blood of Flowers, and found Equal to the Sun another absorbing read. As the story is told by Javaher, I felt the character of the princess was a little remote but I particularly enjoyed the setting of this story as I don’t often get to read about this time or this part of the world. Equal to the Sun was an excellent example of how good a well written, well researched historical fiction novel can be. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 24, 2017 |
In 1576, when Tahmasb Shah of the Safavid dynasty dies unexpectedly, there is no designated heir to the Iranian throne. Sensing the chance for greater power, different factions within the ruling class weigh up the contenders. Pari Khan Khanoom has all the qualities of a brilliant Shah – intelligence, political acuity, generosity and compassion – but one major flaw negates all the rest: she is a woman. And yet she is determined to play a role in the struggle for the succession. As Tahmasb’s beloved daughter and most trusted adviser, she has helped to direct the empire’s policy for fourteen years and is determined to carve out a place for herself under the new Shah. But which of her brothers will succeed in claiming the crown? Based on the true story of Tahmasb’s ambitious, fratricidal sons, Amirrezvani’s novel turns the spotlight on their remarkable sister, as remembered by her loyal vizier, the eunuch Javaher...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2017/02/19/equal-of-the-sun-anita-amirrezvani/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Feb 20, 2017 |
Equal of the Sun – A. Amirrezvzni
Audio performance by Simon Vance
4 stars

The story is told by the eunuch, Javaher, closest advisor to the Princess Pari. Javaher is uniquely positioned to navigate the treacherous political pathways of Iran’s 16th century court intrigue. While her father lives, Pari is in an unusual position of power and influence. After her father’s murder, her influence within the court decreases drastically.

This was an interesting look at historical events and a culture that are completely unknown to me. So, I can’t speak to how much this fiction conforms to fact. As a novel, this book was enjoyable reading. The descriptions were very rich and the action was well plotted. I was drawn into the conspiracy and the trauma of the story. I liked the major characters and I was saddened by the tragic events of the story. Clearly it was as dangerous to be female in the Iranian royal family as it was to be a female relation of 16th century English monarchs.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Anita Amirrezvani's latest novel, Equal of the Sun, transports readers to 16th century Iran. At the centre of the story is Iranian princess Pari Khan Khanoom, daughter of the Shah. Although Pari lives in a male-dominated society, she becomes her father's closest adviser due to her unrivaled knowledge and understanding of court politics. When the Shah dies suddenly without naming an heir, the country falls into chaos. Putting her prodigious skills as a courtier to use, Pari works tirelessly to install her brother Isma'il on the throne, hoping he will reward her efforts by naming her his chief adviser. While her efforts on behalf of Isma'il are successful, her aspiration to become his chief advisor goes unrealized, and ultimately contribute to the power struggles that characterize Isma'il's reign. At Pari's side is her chief adviser, Javaher, a eunuch whose loyalty to his princess never wavers. Together, they must navigate their way through an increasingly treacherous court, one where it is difficult to tell friend from foe.

The greatest strength of this novel lies with Amirrezvani's conveyance of the customs and conventions of the royal court, especially as they pertain to women. Whether Pari or Javaher are in audience with the Shah or simply trying to collect information through associates in the royal harem, the reader is given great insight into life at court. Although Pari is at the heart of this novel, I feel it is her trusted adviser Javaher, from whose perspective the story is told, who is the real star of the book. Although born into the nobility, Javaher's father is accused of treason and put to death. To prove his loyalty to the court, Javaher does the unthinkable and voluntarily becomes a eunuch. Amerizzvani does a masterful job developing Javaher's character, showing his determination to balance his service to his princess while at the same time attempting to uncover the truth about his father's death. She also successfully conveys Javaher's inner struggles to come to terms with his decision to become a eunuch.

Given my knowledge of Iranian history is limited, I was immediately drawn to this novel because reading it would present me with the opportunity to learn about historical people and places of which I know little. Upon reading the first couple of chapters, however, I wasn't immediately sure that the historical components of the novel would be detailed enough to meet my expectations. Nevertheless, by the time I finished I realized my concerns were unfounded, as I had, in fact, learned an awful lot. Although it did take me a bit of time to connect with the novel's characters and story lines, by the midway point, when court power struggles and intrigues come to the forefront of the story, I found the book difficult to put down. I look forward to reading more from this author. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
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Voor mijn ouders
en voor alle Kavehs
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I swear to you on the Holy Qur'an there has never been another woman like Pari Khan Khanoom.
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Book description
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.
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"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 protege, 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."-- Dust jacket.… (more)

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