It was certainly lavish. A yellow haired wanderer and magician of Florentine descent related to Amerigo Vespucci and named after Niccolo Machiavelli but calling himself the 'Mughal of Love' arrives at the imperial Moghul court of Akbar the Great. He tells a story of Qara Koz, the woman he claims to be his mother, a princess of the line of Tamburlane and Genghis Kahn, who was multiply abducted through the fortunes of war until she found love with a Florentine Janissary. This makes him Akbar's uncle.
His stories weave magic around the Mughal court and enchant the great emperor (who has himself conjured up a fantasy queen). And the tale weaves back and forth from past to present, from India and Persia and Ottoman Asia to Transylvania and Italy and the Nuovo Mondo, from history to fantasy, rich, gorgeous and romantic.
- Philosophical: "If there had never been a God, the Emperor thought, it might have been easier to work out what goodness was." (Chapter 19).
- Political: "Was foreignness itself a thing to be embraced as a revitalizing force bestowing bounty and success upon its adherents, or did it adulterate something essential in the individual and the society as a whole?" (Chapter 19)
- Witty: "Only the humble did not stumble" (Chapter 19)
November 2011; 443 pages