It was one of those books that made me feel hugely frustrated page after page. The plot is unique and unlike any other books i have read about India during the British Raj. Sufism, the old city of Lahore, Ranjit Singh's rule over the Punjab and the signing of the treaty that led to the disastrous first Afghan War are all the things I was hungry to learn more about. What a shame though that Ali's writing falls far below the mark such subjects of significance deserve.
My first language is Urdu and I find it impossible to believe that Mariana, the heroine can master the language to the point of fluent communication in just 3 months. That for me i suppose is the point where i start finding it increasingly hard to suspend my disbelief.
The prose comes out jerky and the descriptions of scenes and durbars uninspiring. The feelings the main characters develop for each other are never properly explored which leaves all relationships feeling wooden. There are no subplots in the story which just hurls from one palanquin ride to another without gathering much pace or reaching a proper climax.
Despite everything though, I am still looking forward to reading the sequel - probably because I am hoping that Ali would have gained a better understanding of her characters and made them speak, act and interact in ways that will make them feel more real and endearing. Fingers crossed!