The third book in the Mughal series covers the story from where it left in the last book- the secret coronation of Akbar when Humayun died. Apart from the exploits of Akbar, this book also covers the story of his sons and their immense desire to inherit the throne.
In my opinion, Akbar is the most familiar of all Mughal kings because of the famous Akbar & Birbal tales that most of us have grown up reading.
To me, this book is in sharp contrast to the fun and leisure loving Akbar. Or the pliant & romantic yet tough king portrayed in the movie Jodhaa Akbar. In fact even Jodhaa’s character is in sharp contrast to her character in the movie.
So go for the book with absolutely no pre conceived notions.
Akbar, the 13 year old King is in the forest hunting camp when Bairam Khan’s message catches him by surprise. Delhi has fallen to Hemu- the nondescript king of unknown origins.
Akbar leaves Delhi to a safe zone and heads the war council. He inspires the army to fight the war of Panipat and defeat Hemu
The story moves with Akbar losing his right hand man Bairam Khan in a court plot and killing his milk brother to punish him for his treachery.
Akbar then turns his attention to Chittor and marries the Rajput princess Hirabai for the sake of political alliance. Hirabai could never reconcile to this marriage and tried to stab Akbar on the first night. However ultimately she gives Akbar his heir- Salim and thereafter Akbar leaves her alone.
In Salim we find a deep ambition and intense desire to become King. And he has a fierce competition in the form of his other brothers. Apart from that, Salim’s relation with Akbar was on a downward slide with his mother driving him against Akbar and Akbar’s exasperation at Salim’s fascination towards Anarkali- the court dancer.
The book courses through various war campaigns during Akbar’s rule and Salim’s focus towards obtaining the throne.
In true sense Akbar was the King of Hindustan and is it not the law of nature that what goes up comes down?
The book is as delightful as the preceding ones and I look forward to the next in line.