originally written in urdu, this book covers a huge space in time, thousands of years of indian history, using four recurring characters of different religions, hindu, muslim, buddhist and christian. reappearing in various time periods, these four character's lives intertwine creating a rich and interesting storyline. the story, however, is almost the sub-plot to the telling of indian history, a subject i am not particularly knowledgable on. i strongly recommend reading this book with the use of an encyclopedia or the internet if this is the case as the depth of the historical recounting is immense, to the point of being confusing. i really had to consciously keep up with what was going on, which characters were which and where in time we were.
the pace of the book is fast and rambling, slowing later as it approaches relatively modern times. it has an element of a fairy tale, passed down from generations, slowly becoming more and more embellished and elaborate as it goes on. the descriptions of india are beautiful and rich, exactly as i would expect india to be, having never been and i really felt like the chaos, pace and madness of asia had been captured.
this book does require some fairly intense tolerance and patience but ultimately it is worth it simply for the lavishness of the story and the interesting history of the country.