My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I’m more disappointed with myself that it took me so long to read. There’s a point about 1/3 of the way through that didn’t make me want to read it because I was confused by the characters, but I’m glad I picked it back up.
There’s so much about it that was a learning experience all the way around. Even though it’s historical fiction, I still felt that I learned so much! My western education didn’t exactly cover Middle Ages (1500’s) Iranian history- beyond the Ottoman Empire. First of all, the narrator is a eunuch, which is so unusual. It gives the perspective of a man and woman, which is very interesting perspective. I love that the author went into detail about when he was cut. It was gruesome, but very interesting. This perspective allowed for the reader to appreciate the palace life. It is so rich! The details of food, clothing and daily life made the whole palace grounds seem like a paradise. I really enjoyed reading about it.
Additionally, the detail of the writing was superb. As the characters become less confusing, it’s easier to understand the policies and procedures that make the palace run. There is so much formality. It is frustrating, but when the characters break the formality, it puts a smile on my face. There are quite a few times where the dialogue is whip smart and made me laugh out loud.
I really enjoyed hearing Princess Pari’s story. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that this is very similar to A Game of Thrones, based on the turnover of Shah’s and the characters who are featured. It’s Game of Thrones “lite” since it’s not a series. Overall, the life of Pari and Javaher the eunuch enchanted me and left me wanting more.