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Tiger Moon Paperback – October 1, 2009
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The journey weaves together the lives and adventures of people as diverse as India itself. Wealthy merchant, Ahmed Mudhi, discovered a young girl named Safia dreaming under a date palm. As his gorgeous black horses pranced nearby and his men hurried to do his bidding, Ahmed Mudhi decided that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on. And though he had many other wives he would not be satisfied until he negotiated a marriage with the innocent virgin for that same evening. Her family had no money, and were not of the same religion. Money resolved all of these obstacles, and her family was left prosperous.
Safia's terrible journey to become one of the many wives of a Rajah had begun. She knew her death was imminent because she was not a virgin. She tried to escape many times. Each time that she was captured her fear for her life was renewed. But circumstances conspired to allow her many days before the marriage was consummated.
During this time she told a story of magical and fascinating proportions to the young eunuch who tended the wives at the palace.
This story begins with Farhad, who abandoned as a child was relegated to the life of beggar and thief surviving on the fringes of society. He is cast into the role of hero. Feeling totally incompetent and given nothing but riddles to unravel, Farhad unwillingly begins this quest. Nitish is a sacred white tiger with magical abilities to fly. Farhad overcomes amazing obstacles with the help of the mystical white tiger Nitish and discovers the kindness and compassion within himself as he completes his journey. We travel along in wonder and confusion as we discover the people, places, gods and goddesses of India.
Tiger Moon meets the simple yet profound criteria in literature. It is as Mark Twain would say, "...a good story well told... ." This story possesses the qualities to become an enduring classic.
Armchair Interviews agrees.
The only thing I liked was the explanations throughout the novel.
My biggest criticism applies to Nitish. There a few cases where the author writes him as a tiger. However, most of the time, he might as well be a human or a dog. I do want to mention that I couldn't get attached to any characters. Either they didn't grow on me or they didn't appear that much. Those Gods were almost as useless as a group of ghost cats. My second biggest criticism is the novel practically begs to questioned. At first, I attempted not to question it. However, there's plenty of scenes that I won't simply accept. In fact, I got the feeling that author takes her audience for morons.
At the center of Raka's story is a most unlikely hero, Farhad Kamal, a thief, trickster and con man who finds himself the unexpected target of Krishna, the Hindu god of love. Krishna's beautiful daughter has been spirited away by a powerful demon who has fallen in love with her. Krishna gives the young man one cycle of the moon to find and rescue his beloved daughter before she dies at the hands of the demon king. If he does, he will be reincarnated in his next life as something wonderful and powerful. If not, he'd better get used to the idea of life as "something low and disgusting."
Farhad has no idea how he will reach the captive princess, or whether he even wants to work that hard. When he teams up with a sacred white tiger, however, himself the subject of a cryptic prophecy, Farhad begins to imagine that fulfilling Krishna's orders might really be possible, despite near-insurmountable obstacles of immense distance, no money, monsoon rains, and dangers around every corner.
Among the most dangerous threats to Farhad and Nitish, the white tiger, is a nebulous figure who appears to be of European origin. Like Farhad, he seeks the immensely valuable but deadly bloodstone, a huge rare gem. Farhad hopes the bloodstone will be the key to rescuing Krishna's daughter, but the mysterious stranger seeks the stone for his own personal and financial gain.
As Farhad and Nitish try to overcome these obstacles and make their way to the princess before the full moon, a rich and rewarding friendship grows between the two. Farhad, the consummate trickster, has never previously allowed himself to care for anyone. Nitish, the powerful tiger, is at times nearly paralyzed by fear. How the two manage to sacrifice themselves for their friends, and for their quest, becomes a moving testimony to the power of friendship.
Just as compelling is the novel's commentary on the power of story to shape lives, inspire courage and even change personalities. Raka's story, which bears some uncanny parallels to her own biography, inspires everyone who hears it, including one who may be the unlikeliest hero of all. Of course, the best thing about TIGER MOON is that, just as Raka's fairy story --- which blends elements of magical realism with cultural background on Hindu deities, traditional Indian customs and British colonialism --- draws in everyone who hears it, so too will it draw in those lucky enough to discover Antonia Michaelis's almost compulsively readable book.
Michaelis, a popular German author, makes her U.S. debut with TIGER MOON, capably translated from the German by Anthea Bell, who also translates Cornelia Funke's novels into English. It's always a joy to discover a talented writer from overseas whose works are newly available in English. Michaelis's skillful storytelling should certainly win her a wide following among anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a good, old-fashioned tale of adventure, love, friendship and storytelling.
--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Yes, there are some mature themes. But there's really nothing here that wouldn't be suitable for the intended young adult audience. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a well-written story full of fantasy, adventure, and romance.