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Tiger Claws: A Novel of India Paperback – Bargain Price, November 11, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Maya, the 17th-century Indian heroine of Speed's The Temple Dancer, plays a minor role in this sequel, the middle volume of an epic trilogy that charts Mogul emperor Shah Jahan's declining years. As the emperor secludes himself in Agra with opium and dancing girls, two of his sons—blustering bully Dara, who is the favored heir, and the austere, intelligent, and far more dangerous Aurangzeb—secretly contend for the royal succession. Various nobles, army generals and palace eunuchs alternately aid and betray each brother. Meanwhile, in distant Poona, Shivaji, a daring Hindu thief and dispossessed heir of a small kingdom, gathers an army to reclaim his inheritance—which brings him to the attention of the scheming imperial forces. Some of the book's plot elements are resolved with startling abruptness, while others clearly await the concluding volume. But Speed offers a fascinating glimpse into a history unfamiliar to most Westerners. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A dazzling debut and a real page-turner."
--India Edghill, author of Queenmaker and Wisdom's Daughter
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Tiger Claws has a promising beginning and I was eager to read more about Basant and Roshanara. However, the novel changes pace and slows to a crawl as we follow the development of an impending war. Although historical fiction is typically very enjoyable, Tiger Claws is incredibly dull in comparison to most. I hoped for treachery, treasonous behavior, anything to make the story more interesting!
The characters are flat and unlikable; I simply did not find myself caring about any of them. Shivaji is a far cry from an inspirational leader and it is difficult to see him as an individual that is able to cause a poor, hodgepodge army to rise up against one of the richest empires in India. At climatic moments when you typically find yourself rooting a character on, I felt rather indifferent towards the outcome. Even Maya herself, who plays a very small role, lost her initial draw. She is no longer the strong, determined woman she was in The Temple Dancer. Maya has become a woman who has given up on life and is filled with self doubt as she is pushed from one situation to another. While it appears that the Brotherhood will once again play a strong role in the development of the novel, they are added almost as an afterthought in certain areas. I missed the manipulation and deceitfulness they brought to The Temple Dancer that kept you wondering what would happen next. I was very hopeful that the story would improve when a few, seemingly dynamic, characters were introduced throughout the story, but they were simply used to unite one event with another and never heard from again.
Where I flew through The Temple Dancer, about 280 pages into Tiger Claws I began skimming sections that were redundant and incredibly slow-something I rarely do. Although the novel picks up the pace again in the final chapter, it was a relief when I finally reached the end.
I feel like Speed has tried to create some sweeping, mystical epic, but falls unbelievably short. He claims in the intro to have "worked" on this book for 20 years. I am sure he did extensive research, and is very knowledgeable, but his storytelling is just horrendous. This book is just a mess.
I would literally recommend any book on India other than this one: Beneath a Marble Sky, The Feast of Roses, The Twentieth Wife, The Splendour of Silence, etc.
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