History, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy
This book really does have it all but spends more than it's fair share of time with the tensions brought on by the British influence in India and Pakistan and not enough time in my opinion revealing the very interesting and rich cultures of the region. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of grand descriptive prose here but it leans heavily on the military aspects. By the time you finish this book you feel that you may have traversed from Bombay to the Hindu Kush and back again yourself. It is exhausting, it is huge, and it is definitely written richly and beautifully for the indulgent and appreciative reader/listener. It is a marvel.
If there could be a perfect novel, or book, than this is it. Everything you have ever wanted in a story is written on over 900 pages and it brought tears to my eyes to see it finally offered on Audible.
I have read this novel many times and everything else by M.M. Kaye, it is like finding a long lost friend and though I haven`t even listened to this program yet, I already know that it will be the best 48 hours of my reading history.
This is an epic story that covers ever emotion known to man, transporting you to far away places and lingers on your mind long after it ends.......
I wish there were a zillion more M. M. Kaye novels hidden somewhere and we just found them. I can dream!!
"fabric artist and quilter"
This is a HUGE book - at 80 hrs long its a commitment but for your money its excellent value as there are not just one story but many stories all of them well written and reasonably well told by Vikas Adam (although his british accent was woeful). There were slightly dull passages, there were incredibly exciting passages and there were boring bits that connected the stories.
M M Kaye published this as just the one massive book but in reality it could easily have been 4 big books. I think it would have been a better tale if it had been 4 books as the dull passages would have had to be more interesting to keep the reader reading.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and the final story of the Second Afghan war and the mission to Kabul was wonderfully written and terribly exciting - as a piece of descriptive writing it was amongst the best I heard. Sadly the end was predictable, soppy and very abrupt and it left me feeling disappointed that the ends weren't more appropriately tied off.
I'd recommend this book to those interested in life in the British Raj of 1870s, romantics who are looking for more than a bodice ripper and those who enjoy a long tale with lots of characters.
I didn't realize until after finishing this book, that in 1984 it was made into a tv mini series starring Ben Cross, in 2005 a musical, and in 2011 a radio drama for Britian's BBC. The author used her personal childhood experiences and parts of her grandfather's biography to create this memorable masterpiece. I'm now searching for another book to fill it's shoes, no luck yet. I might have to listen again.
It takes place during the British Raj (British domination) in India. Ash was born Ashton Pelham-Martyn to two British citizens living in India shortly before the Indian Rebellion of 1857. By the time he's a toddler, both are deceased and he's left alone with only his Hindu nanny, Sita, to care for him. She disguises him as Hindu to basically save his life. After Sita dies, he becomes Ashton once again and the story deepens as does his life. Sit back and get ready to go on this "page turning" adventure with this impulsive young man who wears his heart on his sleeve, upholds fairness and justice in all he encounters while he thumbs his nose at authority, periodically. His love for a princess from his childhood, Anjuli, eventually becomes his driving force. She's a lucky girl, and you'll see why..
The book is an education in British-Indian history interlaced with love, friendship, loyality,
race, religion, bigotry, racism, a look into Indian royality, and the caste system. Don't be overwhelmed by the many characters and their names. Don't be afraid to rewind. I really don't think you'll mind. The narrator was great, but I wasn't that swept with the female voices. It wasn't enough to detract from the book however. It is one I'll remember and recommend.
Great story and historically accurate. We learned so much about the culture and society. Should be in the top 10 of historical novels.
It took nearly 5 months, but I have finally finished this epic tale of star-crossed lovers searching for a place to belong, set amid the political intrigues, cruelties and hubris of the British Raj. At almost 49 hours, it's by far the longest audiobook I've yet tackled. Narrator Vikas Adam was an expert guide, and much of the story had me utterly captivated. But this novel had a couple of glaring flaws that kept me from giving it 5 stars (although, in the end, it did seem to add up to more than the sum of its parts).
I will leave a detailed recounting of the plot to other reviewers. At the heart of the story is the struggle of Ashton Pelham Martin, born British but raised Indian, to reconcile the two halves of himself. His beloved, Anjuli, gives the book its soul. A neglected Indian princess, she too is "half caste," valued solely for the emotional support she gives her spoiled, volatile younger sister, Shushila. The same intolerance and prejudice that makes both Ash and Juli outcasts in their own country, places seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the path of their love.
The story managed to have both a breathtaking scope - sweeping from the Himalayas to the parched deserts of India and back again to the Hindu Kush - and a remarkable intimacy, revealing the private inner lives of a huge cast of characters. The novel highlighted how people find both comfort and frustration in cultural customs and traditions. They give human beings a place to belong while simultaneously limiting and stifling them.
Despite all of the other compelling characters, Ash and Juli's saga was so central to the book's emotional core that the story lost its way when its focus shifted to the Second Afghan War and the ill-fated British mission to Kabul. Try as I might, I was not as engrossed in the fate of Lt. Walter Hamilton, Ash's best friend, especially as both Ash and Juli were relegated to the role of bystanders. The final quarter of the book dragged, taking me a few weeks to finish. I wish M.M. Kaye had used that section as the basis for a second book, rather than trying to shoehorn it into Ash and Juli's story.
The key figures in the siege against the British mission were based on real people. Therefore, the story seemed unnecessarily padded in this final section, as if Kaye were just marking time to arrive at the major historical events. Throughout the book, she also showed a weakness for heavy-handed foreshadowing, to the point I could predict major plot twists long before they happened. In the final quarter, she beat the reader over the head with it, until I was almost relieved to finally reach the end (where I felt Ash and Juli's story was wrapped up too hastily).
However, the book's many strengths made it compelling and worthwhile, and I'll probably listen to or read the story again someday. Vikas Adam was an extraordinary narrator, giving consistent, distinctive voices to all of the characters. I especially loved how he used different accents for Ash, depending on whether he was thinking or speaking in English or in an Indian dialect.
This was a wonderful book. I spent the month of October enjoying the adventures of Ashton Pelham-Martyn as he grew up in 19th century Northern India as a member of the English Army stationed in India. I learned a great deal while listening to this amazing book. I won't retell the story but I listened to every word. I researched the people and events that were truthfully stated by the author. It was time well spent and I recommend it highly. I listened every day for one to three hours. It was a commitment, but a worthwhile one. I'm so glad I chose this book from Audible.
Ashton Pelham-Martyn - the main character.
No, I haven't listened to Vikas Adam previously. He was fantastic. His pronunciations and accents for the many ancillary characters were superb.
Don't make a film. It already was one. I do NOT plan to see it. I am leaving the book in my head - not on film.
Thank you, Audible.
I "found" this book years ago and have re-read and handed off copies to friends, something about it calls to me. Totally enjoyed being able to listen after having read it several times in the past. The narration was excellent. I love the characters and the whole story of the british going into Afghanistan, begs the old adage "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it".
Highly recommend, absolutely love this story!