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Empress

The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan
By: Ruby Lal
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

In 1611, 34-year-old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, became the 20th and favorite wife of Emperor Jahangir, who ruled the vast Mughal Empire. An astute politician as well as a devoted partner, she issued imperial orders; coins of the realm bore her name. When Jahangir was imprisoned by a rebellious nobleman, the empress led troops into battle and ultimately rescued him.  

The only woman to acquire the stature of empress in her male-dominated world, Nur was also a talented dress designer and innovative architect whose work inspired her stepson's Taj Mahal. 

Nur's confident assertion of talent and power is revelatory; it far exceeded the authority of her female contemporaries in Renaissance Europe, including Elizabeth I. Here, she finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens us to a fascinating history.

©2018 Ruby Lal (P)2018 HighBridge Company

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  • Katie Brookins
  • 14-09-18

A Fascinating Life

I had heard of Jahanara, but if her father's stepmother Nur Jahan was included in the Royal Diaries series book based on the young Indian princess (and I now suppose the must have been), her role was not significant enough to have imprinted her name on my brain. I'm all the more pleased to have discovered this excellent, well-researched biography of Empress Nur Jahan, born while her parents were traveling as political refugees from Persia to India. Although remembered for her love story with Emperor Jahangir (her second marriage and his twentieth), she was also a profoundly capable stateswoman who rose to be co-sovereign with her husband, the first and last woman to lead the state of India until Indira Ghandi was elected Prime Minister over 300 year later. Nur Jahan designed gardens and clothes, shot tigers to protect her subjects, generously funded and arranged marriages for orphaned girls who wished to marry, issued imperial orders, led troops in battle, rescued the kidnapped emperor, and negotiated political alliances. I plan to read this book again and again so that my children will grow up hearing stories of Nur Jahan.

The narrator did an excellent job keeping the tone clear but lively, important with a nonfiction book.