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Review: Muhammad Bin Tughlaq: Tale of a Tyrant

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq: Tale of a Tyrant by Anuja Chandramouli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was the Sultan of Delhi in the early 14th century had ruled over a large empire in India. Writings books around this period can be tricky, as opinions are very divided – either as a period where values plunged with mind-numbing cruel violence, or more favourably as being the general practices of the times. Anuja Chandramouli strikes a very good balance in the book – combining historical facts with new voices of the characters. As she mentions history is especially scant about the voices of the women of the time, and Anuja gives Muhammad Bin Tughlaq’s mother, wife and sister a voice.

The Khilji clan’s reign had ended, and Muhammad Bin Tughlaq becomes the Sultan of Delhi after the death of his father Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. It was challenge to match the legacy of his father who was much respected. Muhammad however tries his best to be considerate to his subjects (including non-muslims), while still adhering strongly to the rituals required of his faith. And yet, he was cruel as well with opponents, and (in this version) also his own wife Saira. The bar for values had been set very low by Alauddin Khilji, and hence rulers who followed come across as so much better. However, the cruelty, religious intolerance and violence can still make you cringe by the standards of today. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq runs into issues with a number of rebellions and watching his kingdom coming apart near the end of his life.

The narration is a bit dry in parts. Though the author mentions that today, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq is regarded by many more favourably, it is not very clear from the narration in entirety as to why that should be the case. The balance in the writing is the strongest and creditable aspect of the book. The interspersing of the author’s version of incidents over what is widely known is imaginative as well. These two aspects make the book well worth a read.

My rating: 3.5 / 5.

I received a free copy of the book for providing a review.

View all my reviews

This post first appeared on Good Books Lift You, please read the originial post: here

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Review: Muhammad Bin Tughlaq: Tale of a Tyrant


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