The Far Pavilions

Written by: M.M. Kaye

The Far Pavilions Book Cover
A magnificent romantic/historical/adventure novel set in India at the time of mutiny. The Far Pavilions is a story of 19th Century India, when the thin patina of English rule held down dangerously turbulent undercurrents. It is a story about and English man - Ashton Pelham-Martyn - brought up as a Hindu and his passionate, but dangerous love for an Indian princess. It's a A magnificent romantic/historical/adventure novel set in India at the time of mutiny. The Far Pavilions is a story of 19th Century India, when the thin patina of English rule held down dangerously turbulent undercurrents. It is a story about and English man - Ashton Pelham-Martyn - brought up as a Hindu and his passionate, but dangerous love for an Indian princess. It's a story of divided loyalties, of tender camaraderie, of greedy imperialism and of the clash between east and west. To the burning plains and snow-capped mountains of this great, humming continent, M.M. Kaye brings her quite exceptional gift of immediacy and meticulous historical accuracy, plus her insight into the human heart.
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The Far Pavilions Reviews

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Actually 2.5★ - I liked it well enough to keep reading for more than two months, but in the end it was just too damn long (my ebook edition ended on p1289).

This is the story of Ashton Pelham-Martyn, born to British parents in India in the mid 1800s, but brought up as the son of an Indian Hindu widow. As a child he meets the Princess, Anjuli, and they form a bond, which becomes key to the plot later on (many, many, many pages later...)

Some would say that this is a romance novel, but I thought the Actually 2.5★ - I liked it well enough to keep reading for more than two months, but in the end it was just too damn long (my ebook edition ended on p1289).

This is the story of Ashton Pelham-Martyn, born to British parents in India in the mid 1800s, but brought up as the son of an Indian Hindu widow. As a child he meets the Princess, Anjuli, and they form a bond, which becomes key to the plot later on (many, many, many pages later...)

Some would say that this is a romance novel, but I thought the romance between Ash and Juli was very much secondary to the main tale, which was about Ash's exploits and adventures as an officer in the British Army. And it was the military stuff that I found a bit boring; skim-reading the last 25% or so through the Second Afghan War.

But Kaye's writing is beautifully descriptive - possibly the cause of a lot of the bloat - and it was this that kept me plodding on towards the end. Here's a piece that I liked when the action moved to Kabul:

Sir Louis looked forward to the autumn. He had heard that it was almost the best time of year in Kabul: not as beautiful as spring, when the almond trees were in bloom and the valley was white with fruit blossom, but with a spectacular beauty of its own as the leaves of poplars and fruit trees, vines, walnuts and willows flamed gold and orange and scarlet, the snow-line crept down the mountain-sides, and thousands of wild fowl on their way south flew in from the tundras beyond the great ranges of the Hindu Kush. The stalls in the bazaars of Kabul would be piled high with apples, grapes, corncobs, walnuts and chillies, and there would be snipe and quail and chikor in the uncultivated grasslands and on the lower slopes of the hills.
Spiderorchid
A very good adventure novel with interesting characters and great descriptions of the various settings in India and Afghanistan and their culture. The love-story is believable and doesn't dominate the suspenseful story (I've often found this book described as a romance but I don't think this is really true - the love-story is a central part of the plot but a romance-fan will be confronted with a lot of politics, military strategy and detailed descriptions of battles and camp-logistics too).
As a A very good adventure novel with interesting characters and great descriptions of the various settings in India and Afghanistan and their culture. The love-story is believable and doesn't dominate the suspenseful story (I've often found this book described as a romance but I don't think this is really true - the love-story is a central part of the plot but a romance-fan will be confronted with a lot of politics, military strategy and detailed descriptions of battles and camp-logistics too).
As a fan of Rudyard Kipling's work I really enjoyed this book - Kaye has, as Kipling did, a thourough understanding of the country and the ability to describe it without boring her readers. In addition she has a more critical view of colonization, racism and prejudice than Kipling (naturally, beeing from a different generation) and uses her protagonist as the person to voice this criticism. This makes this book not only very entertaining but also interesting from a social-cultural point of view. I also liked that she created in Anjuli a heroine who is definitly a strong and intelligent character without being too emancipated or unconventional for a woman of her time and status, something that is often a problem in modern historical novels. Even the minor characters are memorable, not an easy task in a book of this size (almost 1000 pages) and with a multitude of different settings and characters.
In short: highly recommended.
Tweety
I can't even think where to begin in a review for this, I barely know what to rate it.
Where the Red Fern Grows :: Drina Ballerina :: Drina Goes on Tour :: Drina Dances Again :: Bergdorf Blondes
Sharon Crawford
Probably my all-time favorite book...epic (is the word).
Elizabeth
I loved this book!! The author did an excellent job at describing the characters, the setting, the people, everything...I really want to travel to India now :) I loved the main character Ash, although I found myself wondering "why can't he just wake up and see what is really going on???" But I still love him!
I also loved the message of the book of how sometimes we get caught in having to "be" one thing or another and our prejudcies sometimes prevent us from truly knowing another culture or peop I loved this book!! The author did an excellent job at describing the characters, the setting, the people, everything...I really want to travel to India now :) I loved the main character Ash, although I found myself wondering "why can't he just wake up and see what is really going on???" But I still love him!
I also loved the message of the book of how sometimes we get caught in having to "be" one thing or another and our prejudcies sometimes prevent us from truly knowing another culture or people. I found my own prejudices and ignorance breaking down as I read about the differing beliefs of English, Hindu, Muslin, etc... It was truly fascinating to me. Also, in light of the current situation in Afghaniastan (the land of Cain) I found it interesting that that country is still untameable.
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The beginning of the book moved at a much faster pace and I really enjoyed the first 2/3 (books 1-5) a lot...hence the five star rating...but the last part (the II Afghan War) I found a little too descriptive and it could have moved at a much faster pace and not had to of been so long. I would have give the last two books a 3 or 4 star rating, but because of how much I felt I learned overall it is 5 star!!
Deanne
When I picked this up it was because I've been looking at the Guardian list. Did borrow it from the library twice, the first time I didn't even open the front cover, but someonelse wanted it so i had to take it back.
This time I started it, and though I read it in small bites at first I began to notice I was reading it in bigger chunks. Found a liking for Ash and his sense of justice, and the book as an adventure story worked. Anjuli however was a character that I couldn't warm to. Did feel at ti When I picked this up it was because I've been looking at the Guardian list. Did borrow it from the library twice, the first time I didn't even open the front cover, but someonelse wanted it so i had to take it back.
This time I started it, and though I read it in small bites at first I began to notice I was reading it in bigger chunks. Found a liking for Ash and his sense of justice, and the book as an adventure story worked. Anjuli however was a character that I couldn't warm to. Did feel at times that she needed a good shaking, but the book is set in the 1870's and in a different culture.
There are lots of characters to love and a few to hate, and then there's India.
Sally Christie
Awwww. This is one of my favorite all time books, the way Kaye sweeps you up in the story and doesn't allow you to get down until the end - incredible. This is one of those books when I read it, I literally forget where I am, and when I'm disturbed in the middle of it, I look around blinking, thinking: Where am I? I've a particular interest in India and stories of the "Raj" but I think anyone who just wants to read a SUPERB book should try this.
Faith Mortimer
Loved it. From the opening pages, right through the heart stopping sadness of Ash's forbidden love for Anjuli through to the end. I couldn't put it down and have read it now 4 times.
Evocative of its' time in the Raj of India, the descriptive prose is wonderful. I can heartily recc it to both male and female readers of all ages.
William
M.M. Kaye wrote this book nearyl 40 years ago and yet her description of Afghanistan and Pakistan is so current it is frightening.
The British in the 1870s did exactly what the Americans are doing today in 2009. Kaye depicted the Afghanis exactly as they are today, and the British appear precisely how the Americans are acting today.
The implications are frightening.
Freya
I can read this book again, again and again. And every time I absolutely love it.

Enough said. If you haven't read it yet. Go now and start!

Latest read - 11 Jan. '16 to 12 Feb. '16
Karen
Whoo .... a good book to put you to sleep ... over a period of six months .... a "filler" between actual worthwhile reads.
Christine Nolfi
A classically told love story interwoven with the history of India's colonial era. Highly recommended.
Krisaundra
This book is my hands down, nothing can compare to, all time favourite book, out of the hundreds, more likely thousands of books that I have read over a lifetime of reading! It all began because of a youthful adoration of an older female cousin who raved as she read this book while she babysat us. I was at that age where I was old enough to babysit for short periods, but not for full days, or evenings, so then my cousin would come in to babysit, book in hand, happy to share her excitement over t This book is my hands down, nothing can compare to, all time favourite book, out of the hundreds, more likely thousands of books that I have read over a lifetime of reading! It all began because of a youthful adoration of an older female cousin who raved as she read this book while she babysat us. I was at that age where I was old enough to babysit for short periods, but not for full days, or evenings, so then my cousin would come in to babysit, book in hand, happy to share her excitement over this book with a younger cousin she knew already had a deep love for reading. I became obsessed with my need to have this book to the point where it was all I talked about, asked for, and "would die if I didn't get it".. lol Christmas came, and under the tree there it was, my begged for book! I tore off the wrapping paper to discover than in reality my book was actually two very thick, large, daunting hard cover books that held within them the magical story I had heard enough about to know I wanted to read it, regardless of the unexpected surprise that it was actually two books, both equally thick (almost the thickness of a brick each). And so, my journey began...

While The Far Pavillions is initially daunting because of its sheer volume, from the first words I found it completely enthralling as it whisked me away to the lands of India during a time of great turmoil as the British attempted to maintain reign over a country and peoples who were ready to reclaim themselves. In the midst of this political chaos a British woman dies as her son enters into a owrld where the very color of his pale skin was a death sentence. With no mother, and a military father who was well meaning, but uncertain of what to do with this new child that he knew nothing about raising, and was too involved in military situations of great urgency to properly ecide what to do with this child and no wife to care for it. Up steps the family servant, an Indian widow who instantly loves this child named Ashton and decides immediately that no harm will come to this little boy... She becomes his mother in every aspect, craftily hiding his british identity by rubbing a clay dust over his entire body, darkening it to a hue of the Indians of the not so far off mountain villages, and from here the story truly takes off...

To women this is a book of motherly love, sacrifices and protectiveness to an enchanting young boy who has no idea that he is not an child of India, or the woman who he calls his Mom. Through a string of events, this unlikely tiny family of two find themselves living an unexpected life within the palace walls in a time when Royalty truly had infinite power as well as hidden plots and dangers in every corner within it. As Ash grows he becomes the servant, the companion and the trusted listener to not only the single son of the Maharajah, and heir to the throne, as well as the playmate to the all but forgotten daughters of the same King. With time these friendships evolved into a deep relationship with one sister and a life or death relationship with others within the Palace, despite his mothers many attempts to protect him... The story gorws as do the characters in age and behaviours to become a love story like none I have ever encountered that will cost loved ones their lives, angry ones to retaliate and an unexpected love to grow under such unusual, unexpected conditions to make it all the more like a true romance, because it must face obstacles that seem endless in numnber, and are too full of danger to have it happen, and yet as with any great romance worth remembering, those who truly love perservere despite the impossible odds faced by all parties touched by those in love...

This book is also an amazing read for men. It is a story of soldiers fighting side by side for their country, beliefs, and very lives. it is the tale of an orphaned child in a war torn country, adopted by a woman who in theory is his enemy simply by their individual circumstances of birth... A child who grows into a young man, a child of the palce of his unknown enemies, and eventually a proud soldier of the country of his birth. Many years later, as an adult soldier of the British army, Ash returns to his beloved India, torn between all he has learned of his heritage and a childhood and youth where he lived as a child of the country of his birth. Old friends will emerge, as will dangers once encountered behind palace walls... almost forgotten, but not completely, and neither recognizing the other until all is at stake, including the life of a childhood friend and love.

This story covers many lives, over many decades, with twists, turns, and complexities that create a story full of the deepest passions our human hearts ever encounter... from the passion of life as an innocent child, to the passion of a heart that finds its first love. The seldom explored passion between comrades in arms and the brotherhood they share that will lead men to make decisions that few other things ever could... the passion for the love of ones childhood home, and the dreams that went with those, and how it is affected when one returns with the eyes and heart of an adult man. And lastly it is the passion of two people who have held a love since childhood that runs so deep either will sacrifice everything to ensure the safety and happiness of the one they love, even if it means they never see each other ever again... the question is what will win out? The desire to protect the "brothers" Ash has found as he grew into manhood, the opportunity to protect, and potentially save one who once did the same for him as a child, or the love that has been rekindled but will cost him everyone and everything except for that one individual? Only by opening the pages of this incredible book can one find out the answers to these, and many other questions, mysteries and adventures that all take place in an ancient land filled with magical, mysterious places and peoples that will capture your heart from the moment you turn the first page... as for me, I know all these answers, and yet every year when summer comes I re-open this amazing book and revisit every aspect of abook that won my heart many years ago, and will continue to satisfy and fulfill it every time I go back to revisit it. To me, it wouldn't be summer if I didn't spend it with the now familiar people and places that bring me so much joy every time I go back to visit them... I hope you find it as enchanting and irresistable as I have from the first time I held it in my young, eager hands! <3
Helen
The term 'sweeping epic' is used so often it's become a cliché, but it's actually an accurate description of The Far Pavilions. M. M. Kaye takes us on a journey across 19th century India and Afghanistan, during which we witness some of the major turning points in the history of those two countries.

Ashton Pelham-Martyn is born in India, the son of British professor Hilary Pelham-Martyn and his wife Isobel. When both of his parents die within a few years of each other, the four year-old Ash is bro The term 'sweeping epic' is used so often it's become a cliché, but it's actually an accurate description of The Far Pavilions. M. M. Kaye takes us on a journey across 19th century India and Afghanistan, during which we witness some of the major turning points in the history of those two countries.

Ashton Pelham-Martyn is born in India, the son of British professor Hilary Pelham-Martyn and his wife Isobel. When both of his parents die within a few years of each other, the four year-old Ash is brought up by Sita, the wife of his father’s Hindu groom, unaware that he is not actually Indian. Several years later, after Sita's death, Ash learns the truth about his birth and is sent to school in England. Eventually he returns to India to serve in the British army, but finds that his loyalties are torn between his Indian friends and the members of his regiment. The Far Pavilions is the story of Ash's struggle to find his identity.

At the heart of the story is a forbidden romance between Ash and the Hindu princess, Anjuli. However, that's only one aspect of the book. Non-romance fans will enjoy the action and adventure, descriptions of military life or simply learning more about 19th century British-ruled India. Most of the battles and other historical events mentioned in the book did actually take place and several of the characters, such as Walter Hamilton and Louis Cavagnari, were real historical figures – you may find it interesting to do some research as you read.

Of all the historical fiction books I’ve read, this is one of the most detailed and well researched. Whilst reading this book I've learned a huge amount about 19th century British India, from the names of mountains and rivers, details of battles and mutinies, facts about Hindu and Islamic culture, right down to the various types of flora and fauna. We encounter a large number of Indian words and phrases (most are explained either directly in the text or in the glossary at the back of the book) which feels natural and adds to the authenticity of the story. M. M. Kaye spent a lot of time living in India which explains how she was able to write so convincingly about the country and its people. It's also interesting that although the author was British, she uses various characters in the novel to explore conflicting opinions on whether British rule was a good or a bad thing for India.

At more than 950 pages it does sometimes feel as if the book will never end, but that's not necessarily a bad thing because it's one of those books that pulls you into the story so much that you don’t really want to reach the last page and leave behind the characters you’ve spent so much time with. However, the main storyline comes to a natural end at around page 700 and the book could easily have finished at this point in my opinion. The final 200 or so pages deal with the Second Anglo-Afghan War which is still interesting to read about but could have been the subject of a separate book.

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Laura
Books like this make me feel like a teenager all over again, reading voraciously in many a lazy summer afternoon. Books by the pool, books in bed until late at night, books that I wasn't to be examined on. Gone with the Wind, Agatha Christie, A Hundred Years of Solitude. Now I am an adult, and I have read The Far Pavilions in between preparing meals, marking assignments and doing the school run. It has taken me a long time to finish it, but I have enjoyed it as much as I would have when I was fi Books like this make me feel like a teenager all over again, reading voraciously in many a lazy summer afternoon. Books by the pool, books in bed until late at night, books that I wasn't to be examined on. Gone with the Wind, Agatha Christie, A Hundred Years of Solitude. Now I am an adult, and I have read The Far Pavilions in between preparing meals, marking assignments and doing the school run. It has taken me a long time to finish it, but I have enjoyed it as much as I would have when I was fifteen.
This is the kind of book you wish had been written by a man, because the male protagonist is so sweet and if only real men were like that -in a way, of course, many are. Ashton -Ashok- is a hero, truly, a romantic hero, a military hero, a man of action, a traveller, a man between cultures. Born in India, from British parents, he is left an orphan at an early age and grows up thinking his foster mother, an Indian, is his mother. This is the first element of a romance, an orphan who is unaware of his true origin, and many more of the typical features of this kind of story follow: children who meet up again as adults, claustrophobic palaces, journeys by boat, battles, loyal servants, rescues, lucky escapes, treacherous villains, it has it all.
The first part of the story deals with the hopeless romance between Ashok and Anjuli, a Hindu princess; the second part is focused on the war between the Raj and Afghanistan, and there is plenty of history to learn here for the reader. Ashok has a strong romantic appeal, in the intensity of his love for Anjuli in the face of many difficulties -and the passage of time. In him there is a moving blend of emotion -not consistent with the "stiff upper lip" of the Brtish upper classes in India-, and resiliance -"Keep calm and carry on", very British and very commendable, this-. Ashok is truly capable of empathy, and as a man who is the mixture of many cultures, he is able to judge people and situations without personal allegiances to blur his vision. However, because of this, he often feels he belongs nowhere. Anjuli is his homecountry.
Kaye is a master of suspense, and this accounts partly for the length of the book. When events are coming to a crucial point, the author often builds up suspense and delays resolution by dilatory techniques, such as long descriptions, much as Thomas Hardy in his "cliff hanger" in A Pair of Blue Eyes. I am afraid one has to catch up one's breath and keep reading the inconsequential paragraphs whilst hoping no one is going to die on us.
So, if you wish to enjoy again reading like a teenager on a summer holiday, go for this one.
Kaye McSpadden
I absolutely LOVED this book. It was a long road to travel (955 pages!) but worth every minute. This is an epic saga, story-telling at its best, following the life of a British man in India during the second half of the 19th century. Because he was raised as a native, he feels comfortable and at home in either culture. But at the same time, he has a strong sense of justice and fairness and is frequently at loggerheads with British officials as well as with the local Hindu and Muslim peoples.

The I absolutely LOVED this book. It was a long road to travel (955 pages!) but worth every minute. This is an epic saga, story-telling at its best, following the life of a British man in India during the second half of the 19th century. Because he was raised as a native, he feels comfortable and at home in either culture. But at the same time, he has a strong sense of justice and fairness and is frequently at loggerheads with British officials as well as with the local Hindu and Muslim peoples.

The story is breath-taking in its scope -- it is part action and adventure, part romance, part political and military history, and part travelogue, celebrating the beauty and variety of India's land. It touches on many different topics, including the nature of courage and honor, racial and religious intolerance, the subjugation of women, and culture clash. I learned so much about traditional Hinduism, Islam, and the period of British rule in India, but I also loved getting to know the characters. Beyond the central characters of Ash and Anjuli, there is a whole panoply of men and women who play pivotal parts in the story. I learned later that many of these characters were actually historical. I was afraid I'd have a hard time keeping them all straight, but somehow, I didn't have any trouble at all. I chalk that up to Kaye's masterful storytelling. I also enjoyed learning and saying (to myself) the many Indian words, and appreciated the glossary at the back of the book.

There are so many fabulous, vivid scenes, from the harrowing flight of Sita and Ash escaping from Gulkote, to the horrific suttee scene at Bhithor, to the unbelievable battle of the British mission to Kabul. I've learned that HBO made a mini-series of the book that's available on DVD, but apparently it's pretty bad (Amy Irving as Anjuli!), so I think I'll skip it and just hang on to my own mental images instead. However, I do recommend that readers check out this website: http://www.purrlions.net/ash/index.htm. It has a lot of helpful info, including maps, photos, and historical background. It carefully avoids spoilers, so you can check it out even as you're reading the book.

I highly recommend this book to people who like epic stories (think, Pillars of the Earth, but even more so) and/or like to be transported to and immersed in a different time and place. I've done a little bit of reading about the author, M.M. Kaye -- an extraordinary British woman who, like the main character Ash, was born and raised in India and considered it home. She wrote several other books that I plan to check out.
Kat Hagedorn
http://tinyurl.com/5sh7g7

Just to get it out of the way, the first thing I'll do is complain about the length of this book. 955 pages-- what were you thinking, Mary Margaret? Actually, I know perfectly well what she was thinking. Her intent from the beginning must have been to write an epic, and that only as an epic would this tale of British rule in India, the Second Afghan War, and the romance between her British-born, India-raised soldier and the half-blood Russo-Indian princess work.

This migh http://tinyurl.com/5sh7g7

Just to get it out of the way, the first thing I'll do is complain about the length of this book. 955 pages-- what were you thinking, Mary Margaret? Actually, I know perfectly well what she was thinking. Her intent from the beginning must have been to write an epic, and that only as an epic would this tale of British rule in India, the Second Afghan War, and the romance between her British-born, India-raised soldier and the half-blood Russo-Indian princess work.

This might give you some hint as to what the main themes of the story are. Prejudice is a big one-- these two are fighting to find a place where they won't be judged by the color of their skin or the fact that they are foreigners in a strange land. The other big theme-- the utter uselessness of invading other countries-- works perfectly in parallel.

In fact, the book is quite topical. I wasn't even aware there was a First Afghan War (and that her father was one of its historians), much less a Second one. The very real history embedded in this novel is still in play: The world powers against the smaller, feistier, much more religiously driven countries.
Betsy King
I read this book when it first came in the l970's and happened to see it in the library. I am totally enjoying this book again. The characters are so believable and the story line just keeps you wanting to continue reading until you get to the end. As a woman, I would never be able to live in a country where there is the possiblity of my parents choosing who I am to marry. Forget that. I can picture the mountains and the plains from the way the author discribes them. There are two other books th I read this book when it first came in the l970's and happened to see it in the library. I am totally enjoying this book again. The characters are so believable and the story line just keeps you wanting to continue reading until you get to the end. As a woman, I would never be able to live in a country where there is the possiblity of my parents choosing who I am to marry. Forget that. I can picture the mountains and the plains from the way the author discribes them. There are two other books that are sequels to The Far Pavilions and they are sitting on my night stand waiting for me to read them again also. Ashok is the main character and he has to go through a lot of trails and tribulations, starting early in his life. The history in this book is so interesting. If you need a good historical novel to read, please try The Far Pavilions. You will not be disappointed.
☆Ruth☆
This is a long book - nearly 1000 pages and I thoroughly enjoyed practically all of it. The final fifteen per cent, which is based on an incident from the second Afghan war, was not really to my taste but I imagine others would find it quite fascinating, as I believe it is historically accurate.
The bulk of the book however, is intensely romantic, being the story of star-crossed lovers set against the background of colonial India, during the days of the Raj. Masterfully written, the beauty and gr This is a long book - nearly 1000 pages and I thoroughly enjoyed practically all of it. The final fifteen per cent, which is based on an incident from the second Afghan war, was not really to my taste but I imagine others would find it quite fascinating, as I believe it is historically accurate.
The bulk of the book however, is intensely romantic, being the story of star-crossed lovers set against the background of colonial India, during the days of the Raj. Masterfully written, the beauty and grandeur of the vast Indian landscapes is vividly portrayed by the author and forms an exquisite backdrop for the intrigue and drama of the story.
A magnificent novel, without question a five star rating.
Angie
The Far Pavilions is one of those books that gets inside you. It has the power to define you and change how you see the world. The characters seem real and come to feel like old friends, which is not surprising when one considers that the supporting cast is made up of many historical figures. The story itself is beautiful, and much of that stems from the depth of research into history itself. British India and Afghanistan come alive and present. This book provides great insight into the current The Far Pavilions is one of those books that gets inside you. It has the power to define you and change how you see the world. The characters seem real and come to feel like old friends, which is not surprising when one considers that the supporting cast is made up of many historical figures. The story itself is beautiful, and much of that stems from the depth of research into history itself. British India and Afghanistan come alive and present. This book provides great insight into the current political circumstances in that part of the world. So little has changed. Perhaps with understanding and tolerance, we can still find our own Kingdom.
Sapphire
I have always been enamored by the beauty of India, and intrigued by British Imperialism in India. I love this novel. It took me a while to get through this thick novel, and I found myself often reading only a couple pages at a time in order to truly absorb the richness of Kaye's characters in their India. It is a joy to be lost in.

Rich and compelling, this is an epic love story set across an exotic land torn apart by imperialism and strict tradition. Kaye paints such a beautiful scenery, and gi I have always been enamored by the beauty of India, and intrigued by British Imperialism in India. I love this novel. It took me a while to get through this thick novel, and I found myself often reading only a couple pages at a time in order to truly absorb the richness of Kaye's characters in their India. It is a joy to be lost in.

Rich and compelling, this is an epic love story set across an exotic land torn apart by imperialism and strict tradition. Kaye paints such a beautiful scenery, and gives such exquisite details that you can literally feel as if you are in India. Truly an experience, and I recommend it to all who enjoy a "epic love stories".
Jill
This is surely one of the most amazing books ever written. It covers such a vast scale, and taught me so much about India, much of which I've never forgotten. I can't think of it without a rush of memories and images coming into my mind, and I've only read it twice (perhaps it's time to read it again). In one sense this is an epic love story, and in another it's the story of someone who belongs nowhere, and in another it's a great tale of adventure.
Carolyn
Wow! What a way to learn about another culture! I loved this book so much I bought the movie series also. Of course, the book is much more than the movie series could ever be. But the series allowed me to see actual locations, costuming, and give a sense of the culture that I could not get from the book. I would suggest both because each adds to the other.

This is a must read to increase you view of the world.

Leslie
I suffered an injury in my early teens that left me off my feet for weeks. Mom was sent to the library to select something "long" to last me through the ordeal. This book was perfect. It transported me past all the pain and little sufferings of my invalid state. I still remember so much of it and it will always be one the best books I've ever read, and I've read all the great classics of literature.
Jeanette
This book was recommended to me by my husband's mother. Extremely well written adventure/romance/historical epic novel set in India. The author lived most of her life in India, so she knows intimately the cultures of both the native Indian people and the British who occupied their country.

P.S. Don't see the movie version - it's as terrible as the book is brilliant.
Rebecca Huston
A gorgeous, enthralling tale of two doomed lovers in the India of the British Raj. Massive read, but you're not going to want it to stop either. I've loved this tale of Ash and Anjuli, full of mystery, intrigue, and told in a way you won't forget. Five stars all around.

For the longer review, please go here:
http://www.epinions.com/review/The_Fa...
Leslie
I loved it - the made for television movie cut out so much of the beginning it was awful.
I loaned this and a picture book to go with it to a co-worker years ago - and still regret that.
I actually MIGHT want to read this again.
Great characters, great sweep of country, history, epic story.
Erin
I can't think of another book I've hated more. Was recommended by a friend who has great taste in books, but was a major disappointment. Wordy, characters were unlikable, seemed to have no focus or plot, just rambled.
Tantan
I absolutely loved this book. This is the book that made me fall in love with India, years before I ever visited there.

And this is the book that I returned to many times for the best comfort read ever.
Ginny
This book is one of my top five of all times. I read it in the early 70's and still remember the journey of the characters as if I were right with them. It is one of the few books I would read the second time. It is long but definitely worth the time it takes to read it.
Hailey
I loved this one... it is exciting and frustrating and fun and insightful.... i could go on and on. I always look for it in used book stores because it's out of print I think... so I own 3 copies now! But i felt like I just loved this book so much.
Amy
This is my favorite book EVER! If you like historical fiction, than this is a must read.
Jody
This book had been with me for over 30 years, I loved it the first time and I love revisiting it again every few years, highly recommended.
Sunaina
Basically, my favorite book of all times. Nothing beats it, man.
Megan
All of the M. M. Kaye books that I have read are outstanding!
Michelle
This book is long, but well worth the read. I actually missed the characters after I had finished reading the book.
Rachel Sharpe
Along with Pillars and Nightbird - Pavilions is one of the best books that I have ever read. I actually stayed home from work one day to continue reading this book!
Juliette Qureshi
One of my top 3 for sure. Epic, original and enthralling. I missed the characters when it was over. Time to remake the movie!
Amy
This is the only book I have read more than once. Excellent story-telling!
Andrea Pulaski
This is a great adventure and unusual story. This book has a wide spectrum of elements to entertain a wide variety of readers. Every page is worthy.
David
This was one of my favorite books of all time - an exquisite description of India at the end of the British occupation.
Barb in Maryland
Top of the line historical romance. I did not want this one to end.
Maudie
This is one of those books you read slowly so as to savor each moment...it's that good...
Caroline
This is equivalent to at least four books in one epic saga, spanning the life of an English orphan who is raised by a Hindi woman in late 19th century India and, later, Afghanistan. The first 75 pages were so dull I set the book aside the first time I tried to read it, but on my second try I persevered and got to the good stuff — a thrilling epic of impossible adventures, including love, friendship, betrayal, loyalty, and lovely historical and cultural details for hundreds and hundreds of pages. This is equivalent to at least four books in one epic saga, spanning the life of an English orphan who is raised by a Hindi woman in late 19th century India and, later, Afghanistan. The first 75 pages were so dull I set the book aside the first time I tried to read it, but on my second try I persevered and got to the good stuff — a thrilling epic of impossible adventures, including love, friendship, betrayal, loyalty, and lovely historical and cultural details for hundreds and hundreds of pages. Only four stars because I didn’t care for the last 200 or so pages on the Afghan wars — the foreshadowing got tiresome and then the actual battle scene in Kabul dragged on too long. But I recommend this nonetheless, if you don’t mind investing at least a month or two in such a lengthy epic.
Amy
An epic romance novel of India during the 19th century when the British Raj was in full flower. Ashton, born to English adventurers and raised by a Hindu foster mother, straddles two cultures and struggles to honor both. An ambitious, deeply felt work, filling 900+ pages with history and atmosphere.
Regan
I read this nearly 1000-page book in 8 days, so that should tell you how much I liked it. Ostensibly, this book is about the sweeping love story of Ashton/Ashok, an Englishman raised as an Indian in an Indian palace, and Anjuli, a neglected Indian princess, rejected because of the Russian blood of her maternal grandfather. While their story certainly is sweeping and all-consuming, along with the focus and the catalyst for much of the action, India itself at the time of the British Raj is the sce I read this nearly 1000-page book in 8 days, so that should tell you how much I liked it. Ostensibly, this book is about the sweeping love story of Ashton/Ashok, an Englishman raised as an Indian in an Indian palace, and Anjuli, a neglected Indian princess, rejected because of the Russian blood of her maternal grandfather. While their story certainly is sweeping and all-consuming, along with the focus and the catalyst for much of the action, India itself at the time of the British Raj is the scene stealer. I've never had much desire to see the Himalayas or northern India, but after reading Kaye's description of the towering mountains and fantastical valleys there, it is on my travel bucket list.

A brief summary of each part of the book:
(view spoiler)[
The Twig is Bent: Ashton Pelham-Martyn is born to English parents, an adventuring mother and a scholar father, in India. He is shortly orphaned thereafter, and raised by his nursemaid, Sita. After saving the heir to the throne's life, he is put into service in the heir's household, where he becomes the object of little unloved Princess Juli's hero-worship. When she overhears the queen plotting Ash's death for stopping the murder attempt on the heir, Juli helps Ash and Sita escape. Sita dies shortly after the escape, but first reveals that Ash is English and that he must go find his people. Ash does, and is sent to live with relatives in England.

Belinda: After seven years of schooling in England, Ash returns to India to serve in the Guides, a military corps. On the trip there, he falls for and becomes engaged to Belinda, a husband-hunter. Their engagement is delayed by his commanding officer and her father, so Belinda starts flirting with George, a poor aspiring businessman. Ash continues to visit Belinda and is convinced of her love until she gets engaged to another, wealthier, older man and starts spreading rumors about George, which leads to George's suicide. Ash breaks off from Belinda and his regiment, driven by grief and regret to hunt down a renegade Afghan who has run off to Afghanistan with stolen guns.

World out of Time: Ash returns from his self-imposed mission, successful after two years of passing as an Afghan. As his punishment for two years of being AWOL, he is sent to serve as escort for the bridal party of two sisters, Indian princesses traveling to their bridegroom's kingdom on the other side of India. One of the princesses turns out to be Juli. She and Ash fall in love, but Juli refuses to run away with him, as it would mean abandoning her little sister Shushila, a spoiled brat who was loved while Juli was ignored, but whom Juli basically raised.

Bhithor: The bridal party arrives at the groom's kingdom. The groom turns out to be an old, unpleasant man, only marrying Juli in order to get pretty Shushila. As Juli is not fully Hindu, he demands even more money for marrying her, and it is Ash who has to negotiate the way out of this demand, in order to protect Juli's future, even if it means marrying a grotesque degenerate. Ash succeeds, and Juli is married.

Paradise of Fools: Ash returns, depressed and alone, to his regiment. He is sent to a station only 100 miles from Juli. He becomes friends with some of the locals and reunites with his friend Wally, an idealistic member of the Guides.

Juli: Ash receives word that Juli's husband is sick and that when he dies, she and her sister will be forced to become suttee (sati) by burning alive with their husband's corpse. Ash rides out, disguised, to save them. In an intense, dramatic scene that alone is worth reading this book for, he manages to only save Juli but shoots Shushila before she is forced to die by fire. Three of Ash's friends also die in the rescue. Juli is despondent, which Ash takes to be in mourning for her sister and blame for him, but in reality is just regret at wasting the last two years, as she was treated horribly by her husband (who refused to see her after the wedding ceremony) and her sister, who turned out to be a jealous, vindictive villain. Juli and Ash are happily married.

My Brother Jonathon: Ash's friends are shocked at his marriage, which he mostly tries to keep secret from his regiment, for Juli's protection. The focus here shifts away from the love story and moves on to the political. As tensions mount with Russia and England (rivals at the time) both trying to establish an embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Ash goes back undercover to Afghanistan to act as a spy. His warnings and understanding of the Afghan people is ignored, and the Second Afghan War breaks out. England wins and sets out to establish an embassy.

The Land of Cain: Wally is given a top position in the new embassy, which is not welcomed warmly to Kabul. Ash continues to warn the top officials about the hostile and suspicious feelings of the Afghan people towards the British, which is ignored. However, he is comforted by Juli, who has joined him in Afghanistan. The hostile feelings escalate until the embassy is attacked and all the British and Indian soldiers and diplomats killed, including Wally. Ash and Juli leave Kabul, hoping to find a place where they will be accepted and able to live their lives in peace. (hide spoiler)]

And it may even be that they found their Kingdom.

Barbara Peters
This is one of my favorite books. It has everything you could want in a book--adventure, romance, history, mystery, you name it. It's long and ocassionly gets a little tedious, but it's informative, and tells a lot about India during the 1800's under British rule
Tracy Lea
Read decades ago - and is still one of my all time favorite books!
Jen Mays
Note: The following review may contain comments which could be considered spoilers; therefore, be advised and skip the review if such things bother you.

Review: Ash is a man born of two worlds and belonging to neither. The son of a prominent English scholar, he is orphaned early in life due to disease in India and is subsequently raised by the only mother he knows until he learns the truth at the old age of eleven. The in between years are full of wonder and heartbreak inside the walls of a remot Note: The following review may contain comments which could be considered spoilers; therefore, be advised and skip the review if such things bother you.

Review: Ash is a man born of two worlds and belonging to neither. The son of a prominent English scholar, he is orphaned early in life due to disease in India and is subsequently raised by the only mother he knows until he learns the truth at the old age of eleven. The in between years are full of wonder and heartbreak inside the walls of a remote kingdom far removed from British India by both location and tradition, and these early years set Ash on the path that will forever force him to walk between his two cultures, the one of his birth and the one of his upbringing.

He is comforted by a small group of friends that he considers family, and though the members of this group fluctuate from time to time, they rarely increase; he keeps his circle very tight. This group will see him through his return to England and a Westernized education, the conflict felt between his devotion to serving in the military and the frustration of witnessing the iron-handed way in which the British deal with the countries and peoples they want to dominate, and the igniting of a love forbidden by both sides and yet still destined to flourish.

This is a book that fits quite comfortably into the niche of "sweeping saga" and, though I had not known it prior to reading the book, the discovery through other reviews posted recently that this was once a TV miniseries brought no surprise: it is the type of story made for such, right down to practically hearing theme music in my head during certain long-described scenes. And just as other miniseries-destined "sweeping sagas" such as The Thorn Birds and Sho-Gun do, it is so easy to get caught up in the melodramatic tide, enjoying the ride even as one occasionally rolls their eyes to imagine such a scene on anything but paper.

Since much of this book was about Ashton and his discovery of and return to his One True Love, this may have actually been a five star book had it stopped there. Unfortunately it didn't, and like some other reviews have noted, the last section of the book regarding war in Afghanistan was lacking. It was overly long, for one, and it seemed really disconnected from the rest of the book. It was as if, having reached the end of the adventure of her young star-crossed lovers, the author was reluctant to leave them just yet and had to embellish for another 300-400 pages just to keep them for a little while longer. And yet, neither Ash nor his ladylove Juli featured much at all in the last section (with Juli being such an afterthought that even Ash forgot about her for a while). The result of this was that, though there were familiar characters in this final section, it felt unconnected and unnecessary; it was a second book without it being a second book, with the only goal, it seemed, to kill off pretty much anyone Ash ever cared about other than Juli so that they could retire to a hidden valley together without any obligation to another human being. Poor Ashton was just cheated by his Creator and I felt like he deserved a bit better than what he got.

I would still recommend this to anyone who enjoys being taken into the type of book where exotic lands were still mysterious and forbidding, before GPS and Google maps shrank the world to fit in anyone's pocket. Descriptions of rivers and sunrises and the play of shadows across snowy mountains create awe-filled mental vistas very effectively and there were times when I could feel the heat and taste the dust and curry in the air. Remote and lonely and exciting, even when crowded with people, it is an engaging glimpse at an environment the modern reader will never experience. For those that have loved the vast lands of Drogheda and the icy tundra of Ayla's quest, The Far Pavilions holds much to indulge in.
Shawn
The Far Pavilions is not a book to pick up as a quick read. My paperback copy ran for 1,189 fairly dense pages. It is also a tough book to categorize although it is listed on Goodreads as a historical romance. The leading couple spends very little time together and there are only a few instances when they can explore their love. Throughout the novel they are separated by their backgrounds and religions. The main character is Aston Pelham-Marten who is a soldier in the British Army during the tim The Far Pavilions is not a book to pick up as a quick read. My paperback copy ran for 1,189 fairly dense pages. It is also a tough book to categorize although it is listed on Goodreads as a historical romance. The leading couple spends very little time together and there are only a few instances when they can explore their love. Throughout the novel they are separated by their backgrounds and religions. The main character is Aston Pelham-Marten who is a soldier in the British Army during the time of the Imperial Raj. His love interest is a Hindi princess called Anjuli. The two have to steal moments with one another despite the prejudices and religious restrictions in place in British India. At times, it was difficult for me to track the dozens of characters and the difficult to pronounce provinces and villages. In many ways, The Far Pavilions is like a Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky novel without the intellectual airs. All deal with persons of different traditions trying to exist and find satisfaction in a world sometimes turned upside down.
I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and she did a terrific job of giving the reader a sense of time and place. Her depictions of the monsoon soaked plains, dense jungles, towering peaks, and teaming villages were very engaging. However the sheer length of the novel was challenging and I do not feel that I have a short attention span.
M.M. Kaye’s treatment of both the Indians and the westerners very even handed and I learned how dogmatic and inflexible the Hindi caste structures and principles could be. I found it interesting the faith that comes across the most open and tolerant in the novel was Indian Islam. I learned that Islam was extremely helpful in joining with the English authorities and putting an end to the practice of Immolating on burial fires the widows of Hindi men. Most of the positive role characters in the book are Muslim.
The Far Pavilions gave me a better since of the events that brought about the India we know today. The struggles against the west and Islam, the enormous population, the travails brought upon by nature and the typhoons. There were in the book anti-imperialist undertones but the author also points out Hindis as a people had a frightening contentment to accept near universal poverty before the arrival of the west.
It was all very interesting. Aston and Juli witnessed many of the historical events of the time including the Sepoy Revolt of 1857, the invasion of Afghanistan and the proxy war with the Tsarist forces on the Northwestern frontier. The battle scenes are few and far between but when conflict is described it is never glamorized.
Primarily it is an epic that seems to promote a “love conquers all” belief. It is only with one another the lovers can find harmony. The Far Pavilions refer to the high mountain peaks of the Hindu Kush toward which Ashton decides to focus his prayers. Although the author does not describe it as such, this ritual seems to symbolize Ashton’s rejection of all of the practicing religions including his own. He finds solace with Juli there. It is in their shadows the two lovers escape to live out their lives in peaceful contentment.
While I enjoyed this book there is not a chance I will read it again. I doubt I would learn much more with a second go through.
Andrew Vh
This was a very good book. It is a bit of a shame that it seems to have faded into literary history.

From the beginning, this book transports you back into time, and plonks you down inside the palace of a fictional Raja. The culture is believable and (I hope) accurate. The characters seem real and the twists in the subsequent story exhibit all the serendipity of real life, in large part (as the reader finds out at the end) because many sequences are based on historical events. As someone who did This was a very good book. It is a bit of a shame that it seems to have faded into literary history.

From the beginning, this book transports you back into time, and plonks you down inside the palace of a fictional Raja. The culture is believable and (I hope) accurate. The characters seem real and the twists in the subsequent story exhibit all the serendipity of real life, in large part (as the reader finds out at the end) because many sequences are based on historical events. As someone who did not know much about the British adventures into Afghanistan, the book was very educational.

The book captures brilliantly the complex relationship between the British and the country they sought to control. Through the eyes of the main protagonist, who is neither Indian nor British, the readers sees the tensions between cultures, and the way in which people are trapped inside their cultural roles (not withstanding the high level of interaction between the various ethnic groups, the book describes). A lot is said about the pitfalls and damage done by British chauvinism, but the book also highlights that similar interactions (and suffering) exist within and between the ethnic groups that were rule by the British Raj. For me, the book is a powerful protest against dangers of prejudice and pride; the conflicts it produces, the illogical decisions it leads to (seen in the actions of the British officers), and the suffering it causes by driving people apart (seen in the central love story, in particular).

I am harping on about the broad themes of the book, as this is what struck me most. However, the story line stands alone and marks this book as a 'great read'. I cared deeply for the characters, in particular Anjuli, who is more trapped in her culturally prescribed role than anyone else. The action sequences - in particular those involving tense standoffs - were well drawn and exciting.

My main criticism: Even taking into account the historical detail provided, the book is too long! A lot of words are used to describe the 'internal worlds' of the characters. Sometimes these descriptions of emotions and thoughts were obvious, in other scenes, we get several perspectives of the same event or interaction. This slows the story line to a crawl in places. The final section of the book - set in Afghanistan - was extremely slow, and I was really struggling to finish the book. However, the final twenty pages provide a satisfying conclusion.

Overall, this book reminds me most of Shogun, by James Clavell, in terms of cultural engagement and epic scope. However, its pace was more leisurely (and Shogun is by no means a quick read). I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in grand historical fiction, with the disclaimer that some sections can drag a bit. The characters and scenes in this book will stay in my memory for a long time.
Heidi
Young Ashton grew up thinking he was somebody else. Born to English parents living in India during the years of the East India Company, Ashton was orphaned at an early age and was adopted by his nurse, Sita, who thought it would be unsafe to tell him who he actually was. The first uprising against British control of India had just taken place and Sita was certain that her young ward would be massacred by revolutionists like so many of the other English occupiers. So Ashton became Ashok, a Hindu Young Ashton grew up thinking he was somebody else. Born to English parents living in India during the years of the East India Company, Ashton was orphaned at an early age and was adopted by his nurse, Sita, who thought it would be unsafe to tell him who he actually was. The first uprising against British control of India had just taken place and Sita was certain that her young ward would be massacred by revolutionists like so many of the other English occupiers. So Ashton became Ashok, a Hindu boy living peacefully with his Hindu mother in the small kingdom of Gulkote in the mountains of northern India.

When he was 7 Ashok came to the attention of the young prince and was invited (commanded) to live in the royal palace to be the prince's attendant and playmate. Against his will, Ash and his mother Sita entered a world of intrigues, murder, and secrets. And he also made some true friends, including the prince's younger sister, the princess Anjuli.

But the truth always comes out. Ashok eventually had to be told he was actually Ashton and was sent back to England to be cared for and educated by his British relatives. But unfortunately identities cannot be overwritten so easily, and Ash spent the next several years of his life (up until the book ends, anyway) trying to decide who he was: Ashton or Ashok. And herein lies the bulk of the book's plot: Ash can't make himself be one thing or another. And he also can't let go of his dear Indian friends, particularly little Juli.

The plot twists are all set against the magnificent backdrop of India. M. M. Kaye clearly loved the country. Each description is an homage to a beautiful but troubled land. Reading the book was like taking a road trip through the hot, flat south and the cool, mountainous north: I could picture everything clearly.

This was a re-read; the first time I read this book was more than 20 years ago. Sadly, I think I liked it better then. Back then I was swept up in the romance and in the nobility of what Ash was trying to accomplish in both India and Afghanistan. This time around I thought Ash was bit of a prat: needy and demanding in his love affairs and rather self-righteous with his friends and his military leaders. Juli's character didn't ring true for me, and neither did their whole romance. But this time around I enjoyed the history much more, especially the last 300 pages with the British negotiations and attempted annexation of Afghanistan. I also appreciated the descriptions of India and liked the feeling of being swept up in another world (or at least another country).

Rating a 1200+ page book is difficult since the writing and the plot were uneven. My favourite parts were the early saga of Ash's childhood in India and the last battles in Afghanistan.
nettebuecherkiste
Der junge Ash, Sohn britischer Eltern, wächst nach deren Tod in Britisch-Indien auf – in dem Glauben, ein Inder zu sein. Das Buch erzählt seinen Lebensweg, seinen Aufenthalt als Kind im Palast eines Rajas, seine Flucht von dort, die Entdeckung, dass er Engländer ist. Sein Aufenthalt in England als Schüler wird nur kurz umrissen. Schließlich kehrt er als Soldat nach Indien zurück, wo er gute Freunde und seine große Liebe, eine indische Prinzessin, trifft. Dabei hat er gefährliche Abenteuer zu bes Der junge Ash, Sohn britischer Eltern, wächst nach deren Tod in Britisch-Indien auf – in dem Glauben, ein Inder zu sein. Das Buch erzählt seinen Lebensweg, seinen Aufenthalt als Kind im Palast eines Rajas, seine Flucht von dort, die Entdeckung, dass er Engländer ist. Sein Aufenthalt in England als Schüler wird nur kurz umrissen. Schließlich kehrt er als Soldat nach Indien zurück, wo er gute Freunde und seine große Liebe, eine indische Prinzessin, trifft. Dabei hat er gefährliche Abenteuer zu bestehen.

Es fällt mir schwer, ein Urteil über dieses Buch abzugeben. Es hat mich über weite Strecken hervorragend unterhalten und mich in eine Welt versetzt, die es so nicht mehr gibt – die märchenhafte, aber gerade für Frauen auch schreckliche Welt der indischen Paläste. Die Beschreibungen von M. M. Kaye sind so gut, dass man diese Welt wirklich vor seinen Augen sieht. Und die Liebesgeschichte zwischen Ash und Anjuli ist wirklich mitreißend. Das Buch ist in in acht Bücher mit vielen Kapiteln unterteilt – und da liegt für mich der Knackpunkt, denn der Bruch zwischen Buch 6 und Buch 7 ist ziemlich groß. Ich habe es sogar so empfunden, dass die eigentlichen Hauptfiguren nicht mehr die Hauptrolle spielen. Außerdem dreht sich in Buch 7 und 8 alles um das Militär, den Krieg, Spionage und den Aufstand in Kabul, und ich muss gestehen, dass ich Beschreibungen von Kämpfen, des Lebens der britischen und einheimischen Soldaten in Indien und dem Glanz und Gloria drum herum, so realistisch sie sind, nicht viel abgewinnen kann. Es interessiert mich einfach nicht besonders. Der Evening Standard lobt das Buch folgendermaßen: “... not one of its 950 pages is a page too much”. Es tut mir leid, dem kann ich mich nicht anschließen. Buch 7 und 8 hätte man für meinen Geschmack ganz knapp zusammenfassen können. Das ist wohl der Hauptgrund, warum ich volle 2 Wochen an dem Buch gelesen habe (abgesehen von den eng und klein bedruckten 960 Seiten) und ich mich zum Schluss wirklich durchgequält habe, was mir leid tut, da mir Sprache und Thema des Buches ja größtenteils sehr gut gefallen haben.

Was mich zum Schluss noch sehr erstaunt hat, war M. M. Kayes Nachwort, denn bis auf die Hauptfiguren sind die meisten Charaktere und Ereignisse des Buchs nicht fiktiv, sondern historisch. Das hat dann noch mal für Gänsehaut bei mir gesorgt

Ich habe überlegt, dem Buch nur 3 von 5 Sternen zu geben, aber da mir ja der überwiegende Teil zugesagt hat, gebe ich doch 4.
Erin
This book is written by a British lady who spent most of her life in India - at over 900 pages long it's her life's opus (I believe she was in her 70s when it was published), which is part of why it took me forever. However, I actually read the first 600 or so pages pretty quickly - I was interested in the main character, Ashton/Ashok (known as Ash). Ash is English by birth, but Indian by upbringing (it's a long, complicated story as to why). At first the book is a sort of coming of age story as This book is written by a British lady who spent most of her life in India - at over 900 pages long it's her life's opus (I believe she was in her 70s when it was published), which is part of why it took me forever. However, I actually read the first 600 or so pages pretty quickly - I was interested in the main character, Ashton/Ashok (known as Ash). Ash is English by birth, but Indian by upbringing (it's a long, complicated story as to why). At first the book is a sort of coming of age story as he grapples with his identity, and does endearingly "rash" things. It morphs quickly into a forbidden love story between him and a Hindu princess that ends with a daring and semi-tragic rescue. This is all the part I read really quickly.

The drawn out ending, however, takes place in Afghanistan (which apparently is considered The Land of Cain - legend says it's where he ended up). The action switches from the star-crossed loves and follows Ash's British comrades as they try to establish themselves in Kabul (this takes place in the 1800s). Ash speaks several languages and can pass as a Muslim, so he is a spy who tries to warn them that what they are doing will come to no good. There are very long, drawn out military scenes here. Reading these is always a bit like reading jibberish to me, plus it is incredibly painful, knowing what has happened in Afghanistan since then. It doesn't help that while the book features Hindu and Muslim characters, the main characters are all British soldiers, and it is difficult to feel sympathy for them - given that they are doing their country's bidding without question, even though it means trying to control a country that isn't theres to control.

Yet, despite these flaws, I decided to give the book 4 stars because in the end it is Ash's story again, and it is about looking for somewhere an identity based on race or religion is not required. From a purely historical standpoint as well, this book was fascinating. Given the present unrest in Afghanistan, I do find it helpful to be reminded of the country's long history of being invaded and coerced by foreign powers...although for now, all I feel I can do it sit with the knowledge. And I suppose, like Ash, try to do what I can in my individiual world. I think that is what the author, MM Kaye, would have wanted for her readers.
Helen
Still haven't managed to finish this book more than a month after beginning. Perhaps unfairly, a fluffy vampire romance has turned my head for many weeks now. I do intend to finish, though even before the dreamy vampire came around I was having difficulty staying involved. After Ash rescued Juli and married her secretly, my interest dropped off sharply for some reason. I guess the part about leaving Juli at home while Ash goes off to Afghanistan to spy seemed like the author was trying to tack o Still haven't managed to finish this book more than a month after beginning. Perhaps unfairly, a fluffy vampire romance has turned my head for many weeks now. I do intend to finish, though even before the dreamy vampire came around I was having difficulty staying involved. After Ash rescued Juli and married her secretly, my interest dropped off sharply for some reason. I guess the part about leaving Juli at home while Ash goes off to Afghanistan to spy seemed like the author was trying to tack on even more history from this part of the world (not that that's a bad thing; just feels like a different story). I really was engrossed in the story up until this point. Perhaps the rush from Juli's rescue and the exciting escape through the mountain pass left me in need of a resolution soon after, rather than stringing me along while Ash plays dress-up for the umpteenth time (not that I didn't appreciate his abilities earlier or anything). I will hopefully be proven wrong and have to eat every word I've typed here.

Update: 11-Nov-08
Here I am, eating my words already, and still haven't quite finished. The Battle of Fatehabad happened almost right after I started reading again, and was extremely well-written and exciting (though I don't hold with glamorizing war in general, I do enjoy reading battle scenes if they're well done). Waiting to see how the powder keg in Kabul will ignite. Less than 100 pages to go...

15-Nov-08
Finally finished it this morning. The powder keg blew sky high, indeed. A tragic but well-fought battle brought this book to its end. I couldn't help mourning just a bit for Wally, though he died perhaps as he would have wished. I suppose I wanted to see him grow old, fall in love, become a Field Marshal, but barring that, "it was a good death." Ash and Juli set out to find their peaceful kingdom, and I wouldn't have minded the author getting them there before the book ended. Lord knows they've earned a rest. Overall, a great adventure. Now that I've finished, I'm glad that it ended this way, and not with the 'boy rescues girl, marries girl, lives happily ever after' rather unrealistic way. Much more satisfying and profound, if that's the correct word. Will have to look up the history of Afghanistan at this time to help sort fact from extremely convincing fiction.
Scott
M. M. Kaye's magnificent, titanic "The Far Pavillions" has thrilled readers since its release in 1997. This massive book - the paperback edition clocks in at almost 1,000 word-stuffed pages - follows the life and loves of young Ash in 19th century India, England, and Afghanistan. This book is a definitive epic - the best I've read since James Clavell's "Shogun."

Ash is born to British parents in India, but his mother dies in childbirth and his father dies of cholera a few short years later. Ash i M. M. Kaye's magnificent, titanic "The Far Pavillions" has thrilled readers since its release in 1997. This massive book - the paperback edition clocks in at almost 1,000 word-stuffed pages - follows the life and loves of young Ash in 19th century India, England, and Afghanistan. This book is a definitive epic - the best I've read since James Clavell's "Shogun."

Ash is born to British parents in India, but his mother dies in childbirth and his father dies of cholera a few short years later. Ash is raised by his Indian nanny, who takes Ash as her own son. And so it is that Ash's life is set on a precarious path almost from birth. A British national, and a member of the Establishment to boot, at the height of Britain's imperial phase, he would normally be expected to see the world through British eyes. And yet Ash is raised as a Hindu, even though one can only be a Hindu if one is born a Hindu. In a world where a man must be black-or-white, Brit or Hindu, believer or infidel, Ash is an unfortunate blend of cultures.

The fact that Ash generally represents the best of both worlds does not save him from suspicion and prejudice, and while he has close friends and brothers-in-arms, virtually everyone keeps him at arm's length. There are only a few exceptions. One is Wally, Ash's fellow-soldier in the Guides, who is so blinded by dreams of glory and romance that he cannot fail to see Ash's good qualities. Wally is a true believer in Britain, to be sure, but he places a higher devotion to heroes, and Ash is his. Wally would be a mere sidekick in a lesser book, but he emerges as a hero in his own right.

Ash has one other person who sees him as himself - Juli. Another child of mixed parentage, Juli is scorned by most but adored by Ash with a love for the ages. However, fate and circumstance conspire to keep Ash and Juli apart - far apart - for much of the book. Their love inpires both to acts of heroism worthy of the name, and both Ash and Juli are worthy of the affections of the other.

Throughout the book's many episodes and chapters, Kaye writes with a dedicated eye for finding the beauty and humor in the often gritty and violent India of the 19th century. This book is as much a travelogue as it is an epic, and will ignite a desire in the reader to see the Far Pavillions for yourself.

Highly, highly recommended.
Devin Ross
This book is absolutely amazing! M. M. Kaye has written a novel that is just wonderful. This is going to be a story that will be with me forever. Absolutely love it!
Clara
I enjoyed reading this desperately suspenseful, sweeping novel--which kept me up until midnight on several consecutive nights, so that now I can blame it for the bags under my eyes. Nicely-drawn characters, excellent plotting, and sweet romantic intrigue demand the constant turning of pages--it's an amazing adventure story, and I highly recommend it...

Except that the latter fourth or so of the novel disappointed me. From court/romantic drama, the last part of the story turns to the exploits of W I enjoyed reading this desperately suspenseful, sweeping novel--which kept me up until midnight on several consecutive nights, so that now I can blame it for the bags under my eyes. Nicely-drawn characters, excellent plotting, and sweet romantic intrigue demand the constant turning of pages--it's an amazing adventure story, and I highly recommend it...

Except that the latter fourth or so of the novel disappointed me. From court/romantic drama, the last part of the story turns to the exploits of Walter Hamilton, a real-life British officer and Ash's best friend. Hamilton was related to MM Kaye's husband; he's not exactly a famous figure, so it's not much of a surprise that MM Kaye decided to honor him with a place in her book.

However, the Kabul/2nd Anglo-Afghan War portion of the novel strikes me as vastly different from the remainder of the story--tonally, plotwise, character-wise--really, in every way. We see little of Ash and company and though they do return before the book ends, the sudden emphasis on Wally detracts from the previous direction/momentum of the story. It gets old very fast if you're like me and look up the 2nd Anglo-Afghan war online. (DON'T DO IT! IT WILL RUIN THE SUSPENSE FOR YOU AND LEAVE YOU QUITE BORED.) I could have done without the deflection/wandering of focus here and really think the story should have ended several hundred pages earlier.

Not to mention that, far from appearing heroic to me, the British Mission members mostly come across as a jingoistic bunch of conceited blowhards. Wally's a basically decent guy, but his narrow cultural perspective and desire for military glorification make him a less-than-sympathetic figure. I don't admire him so much as I pity his insularity.

That said, I still give the novel four stars, since everything up to the Afghanistan part had been unabashedly awesome.

Irfken
An epic masterpiece, a wonder of storytelling and a must-read for all those who savour and cherish historical epics. They certainly don't write them like this anymore, gone are the days when writing was this breathtaking and magical. Grand, sweeping, captivating and heartbreaking, this epic tale of love and war across India left me enchanted, in utter awe and moved beyond measure.

I refrain from writing reviews to influence peoples choices as I believe that literature, like art, is subjective and An epic masterpiece, a wonder of storytelling and a must-read for all those who savour and cherish historical epics. They certainly don't write them like this anymore, gone are the days when writing was this breathtaking and magical. Grand, sweeping, captivating and heartbreaking, this epic tale of love and war across India left me enchanted, in utter awe and moved beyond measure.

I refrain from writing reviews to influence peoples choices as I believe that literature, like art, is subjective and what one likes may not be what another would enjoy. In this case, I make a plea to fans of great literature to read this book. You shan't be disappointed. A vivid magical tapestry was woven before my eyes. Taking place across the historical events that shook India and the Raj from the mutiny to the second Afghan war and beyond; the humanity and depth of the characters left me stunned. I fell in love with these characters and their personalities, ideals and hearts until I slowed down my pace as I was gobbling the book up. The writing is so fluid, natural and effortless, so pure, beautiful and vivid as if heart and soul were bared on the page. A rich landscape was painted before my very eyes. The kind of writing that sweeps you off of your feet, captures you mind, imagination, body and soul. The art of language and the magnificence that the written word is capable of comes through powerfully in this book. History, politics, war, social issues, philosophy, humanity and most importantly love define this masterpiece. I shall certainly be thinking of the characters and the indelible mark they left on me for years to come, characters I am sad to say goodbye to. I won't spoil the story so for now all I can do is sing the praises of a work of art, one that I think is, as I mentioned before, not just a must-read but a must-cherish.
Leslie
I will leave it to others to summarize this epic novel. But, having just finished it this morning, I need to write down my thoughts for some closure. The basics are these: this is the story of Ashton Pelham-Martyn who was born to English parents in India whose early deaths and a series of events leave him an orphan at an uneasy time, he is raised by a Hindu woman and it is only when he is in severe danger and she is at the point of death that his true parentage is revealed. He returns to family I will leave it to others to summarize this epic novel. But, having just finished it this morning, I need to write down my thoughts for some closure. The basics are these: this is the story of Ashton Pelham-Martyn who was born to English parents in India whose early deaths and a series of events leave him an orphan at an uneasy time, he is raised by a Hindu woman and it is only when he is in severe danger and she is at the point of death that his true parentage is revealed. He returns to family in England but returns as a soldier to India as soon as he is able. His passionate love for the Indian princess Anjuli takes the lion's share of the narrative.

I knew from a quick glance that I could get whisked away into a frenzied reading of this novel (my copy boasts a very dense 955 pages). I tried to take my time reading it - hoping that I could keep my reading to a pleasant before bed perusal of the drama. This proved hopeless as I became more and more concerned about Ash and Juli and with the characters surrounding them, notably Wally.

I caution readers of this novel to make sure you have time to devote to the novel. I was happy to take my time in getting through the first 2 (of 8) books, but from book 3 through book 6 I could hardly stand to put it down. The final 2 books deal with the British campaign against Afghanistan and the subsequent British Mission to Kabul in the late 1800s. With the pressing dangers of the love story basically resolved, I was able to take a little more time with reading, but not by much.
Summer Meyers
My Mom gave this to me when I was pregnant with Caroline and said she read it when she was pregnant with me and loved it. I put off reading it for two reasons: it is stinking long. Not usually a deterrent for me, but I just had other things to read and didn't want to be stuck in this book forever. Reason number two, it takes place in India and this is going to sound awful (especially for someone who grew up in Asia) but I have never been that interested in colonial India. My background knowledge My Mom gave this to me when I was pregnant with Caroline and said she read it when she was pregnant with me and loved it. I put off reading it for two reasons: it is stinking long. Not usually a deterrent for me, but I just had other things to read and didn't want to be stuck in this book forever. Reason number two, it takes place in India and this is going to sound awful (especially for someone who grew up in Asia) but I have never been that interested in colonial India. My background knowledge of it consists of watching a Gandhi movie in hs, so I know this is unreasonable. Still, I would prefer to eat Indian food rather than read 1000 pages of prejudice, caste, and angry misunderstandings.

Can I just say for the record, I regret all of that and wished I had read this sooner?

I loved it. Ms Kaye is a phenomenal writer and story teller. Her writing style is like a storm that you see in a distance--it builds and then all of a sudden crashes on you.

I love how Ash worships God with his mountain. It attached itself to my romantic sensibilities...
I knocked off a star because you have to take yourself seriously. There isn't really a break from intense serious-ness--- Ash isn't a person to laugh at himself. And I felt like every time he and Juli were together he was shaking her or angry with her. There were very few sweet moments of them together as adults. The romance was still good but just--ugh intense.

And I have always loved the name Wally, but now I think I have to have a son named Walter. Purely because of his battle hymns.

Jennifer
Just finished a marathon of re-reading M.M. Kaye's books.
This was my third reading of The Far Pavillions.
I will probably read it again someday!

The Far Pavilions is in my opinion probably one of the best epics ever written. I found myself taking notes to keep track of the characters and the events. It is one of those historical novels that makes one wonder again: why don't we learn from our mistakes, why are we making them again. So many of you have commented that you could have done without the Just finished a marathon of re-reading M.M. Kaye's books.
This was my third reading of The Far Pavillions.
I will probably read it again someday!

The Far Pavilions is in my opinion probably one of the best epics ever written. I found myself taking notes to keep track of the characters and the events. It is one of those historical novels that makes one wonder again: why don't we learn from our mistakes, why are we making them again. So many of you have commented that you could have done without the final section of the book the part that takes us into Afghanistan, and the second Afghanistan war. If only our modern warriors and politicians would read and learn from that section of the book. Page 935 "Afghanistan is no country to fight a war in and an impossible one to hold if you win...it's never stops breeding hate".

M.M. Kaye's characters become real people. You are made to feel as though you are living with them in their world, sharing their journey. She recreated India as it was in the mid 19th century and then graciously allows us to envelop ourselves in the lives and experiences while she subtly educates. The story of Ash and Juli is like a fairy tale. The story of India is an epic. This is one of those books I can not forget. Reading it once in the early 1980's again in 1991 and now it was still a 5 star review. I am considering revising many of my other 5 stars...I had forgotten what really good writing is. This is a novel I didn't want to end.
Amy Chamberlain
More like 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding it up to four.

This is your basic "sweeping epic." It takes in all the breathtaking scenery, splendor, and twisted politics of 18th-century India, what is now Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Our Hero, Ashton, is engaging and likable, and Kaye uses his unique part-British part-Indian outlook to explore questions of race, heritage, and identity.

The first 5/6ths of the book were particularly strong for me: lots of action, romance, and intrigue. The last 6th was ALL More like 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding it up to four.

This is your basic "sweeping epic." It takes in all the breathtaking scenery, splendor, and twisted politics of 18th-century India, what is now Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Our Hero, Ashton, is engaging and likable, and Kaye uses his unique part-British part-Indian outlook to explore questions of race, heritage, and identity.

The first 5/6ths of the book were particularly strong for me: lots of action, romance, and intrigue. The last 6th was ALLLL about the British in Afghanistan and how both sides worked really hard to create a supremely messed-up situation. Surprise! What, Brits and Afghans don't play well together??? Who knew! Anyway, for me, those last 8 hours of listening began to drag. I tuned out several times and would tune back in to realize, oh, it's just more war. OK. Blah, blah, blah, war. Also, Kaye's foreshadowing about who was going to die was pretty blatantly obvious, so the Grande Death Scene didn't have the emotional impact it could have had.

Unrelated to the novel, but definitely related to my listening experience: the narrator handles British and Indian accents pretty well, but his Irish accent was lousy. Also, he mispronounced "plaited," "irrevocable," and "stolid"--granted, not words that one runs across every day, but if you're a NARRATOR, you might want to, you know, check out how to pronounce the words you're going to have to read.
Brandi
I really wanted to love this book. It is the favorite book of a well respected and much wiser acquaintance that I've been wanting to read for years and is by far the longest book I've ever tackled so I had a lot of time invested. And although it was sweeping, and epic, and I learned much, I found it didn't have enough for me to love it. Like it? Yes. Love it? No. Especially the last quarter of the book I felt was quite lacking and drawn out and was mostly about war which is not my favorite subje I really wanted to love this book. It is the favorite book of a well respected and much wiser acquaintance that I've been wanting to read for years and is by far the longest book I've ever tackled so I had a lot of time invested. And although it was sweeping, and epic, and I learned much, I found it didn't have enough for me to love it. Like it? Yes. Love it? No. Especially the last quarter of the book I felt was quite lacking and drawn out and was mostly about war which is not my favorite subject. I love a great love story and this was an interesting and powerful one that I will remember. However it could have been so much more and I felt that aspect lacking, especially in the later portion and felt the ending with the main characters kind of meh, sadly by that time I was just so glad to finally finish that I was ok about it. However I did learn much about the culture and people and landscape of India and I enjoyed the broadening of my scope of knowledge in this area that I didn't know much about. There were many parts that were quite beautiful and very interesting and intriguing. This may have been more fulfilling for me had it been a series instead of one huge novel. Anyway, it was a good read and I can see myself even attempting to tackle it again some day, but not any time soon. Haha. I am glad that I read The Far Pavilions.
Jill Miskin
I felt a little sad when I finished this book. I really enjoyed the setting and story. This book follows Ash-born in India to English parents. He spends the first several years of his childhood in India before going to England to be educated. Then he has the chance to return as part of the Guides, a military branch from England that worked with native soldiers. His perspective, having been a child of India is different from those of the fellow officers he serves with. The story goes through the I felt a little sad when I finished this book. I really enjoyed the setting and story. This book follows Ash-born in India to English parents. He spends the first several years of his childhood in India before going to England to be educated. Then he has the chance to return as part of the Guides, a military branch from England that worked with native soldiers. His perspective, having been a child of India is different from those of the fellow officers he serves with. The story goes through the much of the country of India and some of Afghanistan. It was one of those epic stories that is large in scope and not at all short. There is an element of romance that was occasionally interesting but held some inappropriateness as a warning. The beauty and brutality of the age is well illustrated along with prevailing attitudes about colonialism and the discrimination from all sides. This book isn't for the faint of heart, it is about a thousand pages long and is a time commitment. M.M. Kay wrote one of my favorite books-The Ordinary Princess-and that is what brought me to reading this book. I love her style of writing and I felt a good grasp of the places and people from her descriptions.
Zoe Liew
I can do no justice to this story. It's perfect. It's everything I've ever hoped for and wanted in a story. It's opened minds and shown us the minds and hearts of men, women, leaders, kings, queens, servants, fanatics, and so much more. The Far Pavilions has acted as a mirror, showing us what lay in the hearts of the people in British India, in Afghanistan, and more remotely Great Britain. It's given life to the sepoys, the goatherds, the scribes, the sahibs, the dais. It's exposed the horrors o I can do no justice to this story. It's perfect. It's everything I've ever hoped for and wanted in a story. It's opened minds and shown us the minds and hearts of men, women, leaders, kings, queens, servants, fanatics, and so much more. The Far Pavilions has acted as a mirror, showing us what lay in the hearts of the people in British India, in Afghanistan, and more remotely Great Britain. It's given life to the sepoys, the goatherds, the scribes, the sahibs, the dais. It's exposed the horrors of what women have had to face for centuries in India. The horror of having to perform sati and the shame visited upon them if they did not. The injustice of the caste system to the British and yet, the ways the locals adhere to it. And the shame of being a half-caste. Love. Friendship. Adventure. Political intrigue. Espionage. Military machinations. The folly of war. Uprisings. The folly of governments. What a gorgeous story! What a beautifully written epic! And knowing that so many of the events and people named in this book are real makes it a little bittersweet.

This review is "not fair" as Ash would say for this book has done so much more than what I have said. But I am glad to have read it.
Joani
I'd been keeping an eye out for this book at my library ever since my friend, Leslie, had recommended it on Goodreads. I found the relationship of the main characters, Ash and Anjli absolutely riveting and I could not put the book down for the first 500 pages (it's a whompin 955 page EPIC novel). I knew little about India and Afghanistan in the mid to late 1800's and enjoyed being immersed in cultures and worldviews so completely different from my own. I'd have to give the last 200 pages of the I'd been keeping an eye out for this book at my library ever since my friend, Leslie, had recommended it on Goodreads. I found the relationship of the main characters, Ash and Anjli absolutely riveting and I could not put the book down for the first 500 pages (it's a whompin 955 page EPIC novel). I knew little about India and Afghanistan in the mid to late 1800's and enjoyed being immersed in cultures and worldviews so completely different from my own. I'd have to give the last 200 pages of the book only two stars. My favorite female character became disappointingly marginalized and the relationship I'd cared most about became more of an afterthought to the narrator. Parts became laborious to get through, heavy with historical detail about the 2nd Afghan war, and the pacing was poor. It felt like M.M. Kaye put everything she had into the first 600 pages or so and ran out of steam at the end, relying on historical facts instead of her deeply compelling characters to move the story forward. While the very last part of the book was disappointing, I still give the book as a whole four stars. The majority of the novel was gripping. I loved the deeply engaging characters in a mysterious and compelling setting. I loved the questions raised and the novel's attempts to answer them.
Amelie
i may be giving this 4 stars out of 5 because so many people love it ... simply out of respect. nevertheless, there are many things to admire and enjoy. MM Kaye really knows India and Afghanistan and her history - the detail is absolutley amaizing, from weapons and landscape to language and customs ... and im struck by how similar the problems are today in Kabul, you could substitute Americans-NATO for the British Raj - many of the attitudes are the same, and she captures them perfectly. but...i i may be giving this 4 stars out of 5 because so many people love it ... simply out of respect. nevertheless, there are many things to admire and enjoy. MM Kaye really knows India and Afghanistan and her history - the detail is absolutley amaizing, from weapons and landscape to language and customs ... and im struck by how similar the problems are today in Kabul, you could substitute Americans-NATO for the British Raj - many of the attitudes are the same, and she captures them perfectly. but...it's too long. this may be me, and my 21st century attention span, but i think that the description of Ash's journey with the brides simply went on and on... mm kaye described everything in such detail that i felt as hot and bothered and in as need of a bath as the main characters! but it's not just her devotion to detail (which i also admire ... she understands a skirmish). the last part of the book seemed barely connected to the rest. when i was hoping to get to know juli better, i was suddenly with wally instead... i think the kabul section was really a different story altogether, and would have been better as its own separate book. but i seems that kaye based this on her grandfather's experiences and i guess he was in both india and afghaistan
DeAnn
I loved this book!! The author did an excellent job at describing the characters, the setting, the people, everything...I really want to travel to India now :) I loved the main character Ash, although I found myself wondering "why can't he just wake up and see what is really going on???" But I still love him!

I also loved the message of the book of how sometimes we get caught in having to "be" one thing or another and our prejudcies sometimes prevent us from truly knowing another culture or peopl I loved this book!! The author did an excellent job at describing the characters, the setting, the people, everything...I really want to travel to India now :) I loved the main character Ash, although I found myself wondering "why can't he just wake up and see what is really going on???" But I still love him!

I also loved the message of the book of how sometimes we get caught in having to "be" one thing or another and our prejudcies sometimes prevent us from truly knowing another culture or people. I found my own prejudices and ignorance breaking down as I read about the differing beliefs of English, Hindu, Muslin, etc... It was truly fascinating to me. Also, in light of the current situation in Afghaniastan (the land of Cain) I found it interesting that that country is still untameable.

The beginning of the book moved at a much faster pace and I really enjoyed the first 2/3 (books 1-5) a lot...hence the five star rating...but the last part (the II Afghan War) I found a little too descriptive and it could have moved at a much faster pace and not had to of been so long. I would have give the last two books a 3 or 4 star rating, but because of how much I felt I learned overall it is 5 star!!
Lisa Brown
THe story of Ashton, whose father dies when he is four years old in the midst of the mutiny against the Brittish in India. For his protection, Sita, his nanny, takes him away and raises him as her son in a remote corner of the country as a Hindi. This starts a chain of events that change his life forever, as he serves the heir to the throne of the area, later escapes with his life, and as his "mother" is dying, learns the truth of who he is.

Packed off to England at 11, he is forced to accept a THe story of Ashton, whose father dies when he is four years old in the midst of the mutiny against the Brittish in India. For his protection, Sita, his nanny, takes him away and raises him as her son in a remote corner of the country as a Hindi. This starts a chain of events that change his life forever, as he serves the heir to the throne of the area, later escapes with his life, and as his "mother" is dying, learns the truth of who he is.

Packed off to England at 11, he is forced to accept a new identity and culture as his own. However, as soon as possible, he returns as a soldier for the Raj to his beloved India. As he fights to discover who he really is, he is able to use his special skills to help the army, as well as meeting a long forgotten princess and finding forbidden romance. And that is where the story realy begins.

I really liked this book, and although it was very long, and many times felt very long, it was a wonderful way to learn about part of India's history. Although the story is toted as a romance, I think that plays only a small role in this epic, as it was more about people learning to live with one another and accepting each other, which Ash discovers is almost impossible for each group to do.
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