Shadow Princess (2010)
Winter 1577: A young Persian nobleman flees his homeland, headed east toward India
and the glittering Mughal court of Emperor Akbar. Ghias Beg isn’t traveling light;
he has with him a pregnant wife and three small children. When his family stops
at Qandahar—which is today in modern-day Afghanistan, at that time was on the outer
fringe of the Mughal Empire—his wife gives birth to a baby girl named Mehrunnisa.
Thirty-four years later, this winter child will become an Emperor’s wife and the
most powerful woman in that Mughal dynasty. Mehrunnisa is The Twentieth Wife of
Emperor Jahangir, Akbar’s son, a woman so beloved of her husband that he grants
her most of the powers of sovereignty. She signs on imperial documents called farmans
and mints coins in her name and truly comes into power during the sixteen years
of her marriage to Jahangir in The Feast of Roses.
Mehrunnisa’s niece (her brother’s daughter and Ghias’ granddaughter) marries one
of Jahangir’s sons, Prince Khurram who becomes Emperor Shah Jahan after his father’s
death. When this niece dies in childbirth in June of 1631, Shah Jahan builds the
Taj Mahal in her memory.
But it is Mehrunnisa’s grand-niece (and Ghias’ great-granddaughter) Princess Jahanara
who takes center stage in the third novel of the trilogy, Shadow Princess. She’s
seventeen years old when her mother dies and her father, in his grief, leans upon
her to the extent that she’s never allowed to marry. Throughout her life, Jahanara
has to pacify warring brothers who each want the throne after their father, and
engages in a rivalry with a sister, Roshanara—in supporting differing brothers politically,
and in falling in love with the same noble at court, Najabat Khan.
Powerful in her father’s harem, immensely rich with half her mother’s estate bestowed
upon her and all of her mother’s yearly income, Jahanara still fails to turn the
course of India’s history and has to find love with Najabat Khan in unconventional
The Main Players
(Click image below to access family tree)