Beneath the Marble Sky

This isn’t really a book report or a book review. It is more a reminder, a personal reflection geared to keep the book I’ve just finished reading, close to my heart. This seventeenth century historical fiction novel by John Shors recounts the story of the Taj Mahal. As a memorial of a just Emporer Shah Johan for his wife Empress Mumtaz Mahal, her tomb remains a gleaming white marble eulogy of their love.

The eternal struggle between the two most powerful human emotions love and hatred are ever the theme of this story. The antagonist, the Shah’s son Arangzeb, represents extreme evil as the heroine, the shah’s eldest daughter Princess Johanara, embodies the virtues of goodness.

Brutality displayed vividly in two men is countered by the gentle strength of two other men in the story. In describing the brutality of the evil men the author holds nothing back. It is the endurance of Johanara that allows the reader to accept the vivid physical abuse as necessary to the story. It is a complicated plot. The underlying and perhaps more important theme is the Muslem and Hindu faith of the characters which exhibits the good and the evil interpretation by the characters.

Being Christian, I noted the mention of the spires of a few churches along with those of the temples and mosques in an idyllic town by the sea, where the virtuous characters in the story spent some respite from the extreme struggles they were otherwise experiencing. This first novel of John Shors is well worth reading.

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