Book Review : The Rebel Queen

Estimated Reading Time:

Rating: 45
Generally speaking, historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I tend to gravitate towards reading something from this genre than most anything else. There’s something about going back in time and living in real time during that era that captivates me.
Michelle Moran is the author of several historical fictions novels, Rebel Queen being the latest of her releases. It’s based in India, in the era of the Rani Jhansi Lakshmi Bai, the first female freedom fighter to become famous for her rebellion against the British and their presence in India. That sentence alone would lead you to picture a woman of great perseverance and inner strength, not to mention a great big pair of balls.
The book is technically centered around the life of one of the queens’ bodyguards, the ‘devadasis’, her inner core of protectors, friends, room mates and guards. These 9 women spend every waking minute of everyday guarding over the kingdoms most precious possession, the queen.
It follows one girls journey to becoming a devadasi, her hardships and endurances, her trials and tribulations, leading to her ultimate triumph in getting selected. The book is well written, a step up from previous Moran books, either practice does make perfect or Ms. Moran has changed editors. Ms moran has always had the talent to take a reader successfully back in time to whatever era she is writing about and she continues her magic here as well. She transports us easily and believably back into olden day India, I found myself in the village, lost in the book many a times. The main character is developed beautifully and by the end of the book, I feel an acute sense of loss to have to say good bye to her.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and I was sad to see it end, but if I had one ax to grind it would be the portrayal of the queen. What we read in the history books and are told by scholars paint a picture of a strong rebeliant fearless queen. The picture Moran paints is vague at most but the little that the queen is featured portrays a very different picture one that I don’t really like to be honest. She seems weak, indecisive, slow to act or react, gullible and cautious to a fault. I could go on. Maybe I was projecting and was hoping to be shown a strong queen who had the guts to stand her ground and fight which is what I thought the story with the queen was. In the book, she’s always running. It led me to question, how can someone with those characters do what she did? Or maybe, she wasn’t any of those things and it just so happened in the end that as anyone would with their back to the wall, it was fight or flight time. Then I realized I didn’t really know her story. Maybe I was judging a persons’ character by the way her story ended. It was google time. Not to give away any part of the story, it seems that Ms. Moran stayed as true to recorded history as possible. The Rani of Jhansi didn’t spend her whole life making large acts of bravery throughout, she was a woman with patience and tenacity, hoping that her submission would bring about results in her favor. I see her life as a volcano, slowly building up to a point where it finally erupts. Her strength and bravery always simmering just below the surface, present but unseen.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a well written, well researched captivating historical fiction novel.