Fear of Lions
Author: Amita Kanekar
9789388322218 | Paperback | pp.348 | 2019 | Hachette India
Set twelve years into the rule of the austere Aurangzeb Alamgir, in a time of impossible wealth and unbearable want, of brilliant architectural extravaganzas amidst ancient traditions of squalor, and of a caste society on the threshold of capitalism, Amita Kanekar’s powerful and intricately woven novel tells the story of an unlikely rebellion that almost brought imperial Dilli to its knees.
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On a hot April morning in 1673, two young Mughal nobles, Shamsher and his sister Zeenat, leave Shahjahanabad for a trip down the royal highway to the market town of Narnaul. The reluctant Shamsher is on a secret mission for his father; an excited Zeenat on one of her own.
Their journey takes them through the shattered landscape of a recently crushed uprising – one different from those the Mughal Empire frequently spawned, of petty warlords fired by dreams of kingship. This revolt was rumoured to have been inspired by Kabir and led by a witch; her militant followers, many of them women and all of them rabble, called themselves ‘Followers of Truth’. The rebels were defeated, but the questions remained: Where had they come from and what did they want? Had Kabir, the revered saint–poet of Banaras, really incited violence? Why couldn’t the inclusiveness fostered by Emperor Akbar hold the realm together? What role did the firangis have to play? Or was it all simply because of the bigot on the throne?
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About the Author
Amita Kanekar is the author of A Spoke in the Wheel (Navayana). She writes on history, politics and architecture. This is her second novel.
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