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The Taj Mahal Trilogy

Shadow Princess (2010)

Winter 1577: A young Persian nobleman flees his homeland, headed east toward India and the glittering Mughal court of Emperor Akbar. Ghias Beg isn’t traveling light; he has with him a pregnant wife and three small children. When his family stops at Qandahar—which is today in modern-day Afghanistan, at that time was on the outer fringe of the Mughal Empire—his wife gives birth to a baby girl named Mehrunnisa.

Thirty-four years later, this winter child will become an Emperor’s wife and the most powerful woman in that Mughal dynasty. Mehrunnisa is The Twentieth Wife of Emperor Jahangir, Akbar’s son, a woman so beloved of her husband that he grants her most of the powers of sovereignty. She signs on imperial documents called farmans and mints coins in her name and truly comes into power during the sixteen years of her marriage to Jahangir in The Feast of Roses.

Mehrunnisa’s niece (her brother’s daughter and Ghias’ granddaughter) marries one of Jahangir’s sons, Prince Khurram who becomes Emperor Shah Jahan after his father’s death. When this niece dies in childbirth in June of 1631, Shah Jahan builds the Taj Mahal in her memory.

But it is Mehrunnisa’s grand-niece (and Ghias’ great-granddaughter) Princess Jahanara who takes center stage in the third novel of the trilogy, Shadow Princess. She’s seventeen years old when her mother dies and her father, in his grief, leans upon her to the extent that she’s never allowed to marry. Throughout her life, Jahanara has to pacify warring brothers who each want the throne after their father, and engages in a rivalry with a sister, Roshanara—in supporting differing brothers politically, and in falling in love with the same noble at court, Najabat Khan.

Powerful in her father’s harem, immensely rich with half her mother’s estate bestowed upon her and all of her mother’s yearly income, Jahanara still fails to turn the course of India’s history and has to find love with Najabat Khan in unconventional ways.

The Main Players

(Click image below to access family tree)

The Feast of Roses (2003)

The Twentieth Wife (2002)
Shadow Princess Taj Trilogy
© Indu Sundaresan
Contact Indu: indu (at) indusundaresan (dot) com