Monday, June 11, 2012

Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani (Plus Giveaway)

Part Of The Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

Iran in 1576 is a place of wealth and dazzling beauty.  But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult.  Princess Pari, the Shah's daughter and protege, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but the princess's maneuvers to instill order after her father's sudden death incite resentment and dissent.  Pari and her closet adviser, Javaher, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, are in possession of an incredible tapestry of secrets and information that reveals a power struggle of epic proportions.

I think I've finally come to that point in my relationship with historical fiction, and I'm going to stop bashing my head against a wall.  I'm going to surrender and admit defeat.  Historical fiction is just not for me, and I need to quit pretending that it is.  Now don't get me wrong, there have been a few books I have enjoyed in the past, but after some careful analysis, they all belong within the same sub genre.  If it's a mystery or police procedural, give it to me.  If it's not, I'm going to pass for now on.

The really sad thing, I can't really tell you why Equal of the Sun, and all the other historical ficiton books I've tried over the last few years don't work for me.  For the most part, and I include this one, they are well researched books that explore points in history that I'm not all that familiar with, but would love to know more about.  They explore cultures in such a way, that at their best, makes the reader feel as if they have stepped back in time and are experiencing everything for themselves.  But most importantly it's the characters, both real and fictional, that drive the action on the page.

Princess Pari Khan Khanoom Safavi, is one such character.  She was a driving force, behind the scenes, in her father's court and amongst the other women in her society.  She was born during a period in Iran where women were not allowed to rule, despite the fact that they were sometimes the best choice for the job.  This was at the same time that Elizabeth I was ruling England, so the geography involved makes the issue even more tragic in it's results.  She highlights the fact that there is so much about world history, especially the history of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa that those of us in the United States know absolutely nothing about.    She makes me think of everything else I don't know, but would love to know more about.  This book and others like it, makes me want to know more about those time periods, the cultures involved, and the people who populated them.

Now for the part I don't like so much, and this is my own reaction, so please don't feel as if you need to defend the genre to me.  With Equal of the Sun and other books I've read, there seems to be a sterility about them that I just can't seem to get over.  And to tell you the truth, I'm not even sure I can explain what I just said.  But sterile is the one word that constantly reverberates around my skull when I'm reading a work of historical ficiton, that is not a mystery or based on a true crime.  As detailed as the settings are and as rich the cultures are portrayed, the people never seem to come across as real to me.  Which is strange, because most of them are real people.  There is just something missing, something about the way they are drawn that just doesn't feel right to me.  Like I said, I know this is just me, so please don't get too mad at me.

I would like to thank Lisa of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book.  Please visit the tour page, where I know you will find lots of reviews by bloggers who adored this book.

Now, since I know most of you would love this book, I would love to be able to offer a copy to a lucky reader.  All you need to do is leave a comment telling me why you love historical ficiton, without yelling at me cause I don't.  And if you know of a book in the subgenre of mystery/true crime that you think I would like, please let me know that as well.  You don't need to be a follower of the blog, but it would be appreciated.  You do need to live within the United States though, sorry.  The giveaway will run until 11:59 pm CST on Monday, June 25th.  I will use to draw the winner's name but since I will be on vacation, I will not be sending the email until after that Wed.


bermudaonion said...

Historical fiction and I don't get along well either. I generally enjoy it if it's set around WWII.

Man of la Book said...

I think it's difficult for someone who has not been exposed to the culture, or even a culture which is related, to identify with the characters. That is because they are so different, in thoughts and acts then what we are used to.

I also think that we need to create a distinction between historical fiction and stories which take place in the past (even though they are well researched).

Have you read Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman (
That is historical fiction without any access storylines.

Lydia said...

Historical fiction isn't for everyone. I personally love it for educational reasons, like Lionheart teaching me about King Richard. I, however, am not a big mystery, detective book fan so we all have our types!

Tina said...

I run hot and cold with historical fiction. If it's a period of time I'm currently interested in, or a setting I want to know more about, I will generally be attracted to books that seem to be able to fill in some of the blanks. For instance, this year, I've been participating in the World War I read on War through the Generations so I've found some historical/fiction/mysteries such as the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd (TLC Blog Tour coming up next week) and the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear definite additions to my straight history reading.

This one looks really interesting, and I'd love to win it.

tbranco24 AT gmail DOT com

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

It does seem as if historical fiction is not for you. I love historical fiction myself and will be getting a copy of this book soon (but don't enter me in the giveaway because I'm in the UK) but just can't get along with sci fi. I don't even know why :/

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I do understand why you didn't like this one. Sometimes sterile doesn't bother me, so I wouldn't mind reading it. However, I have to say when it becomes more personal (and sometimes you do find that rare gem...) the story explodes and that is what I like the best.

Oh and have a great vacay!
books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

Simcha said...

I used to read a lot of historical fiction but I lost my taste for it after reading a particularly horrible book by Philippa Gregory. Now if I read such a story I prefer it to be a non-fictional account.

Mystica said...

I like history in all its forms so this would appeal to me. Unfortunately not in US so don't count me in. For me this sounds a fascinating read.

Anonymous said...

You've given this genre an admirable try so I say, just move on to the books that do appeal to you and don't look back! Life is too short to read books that you're trying so hard to like but just don't.

Staci said...

I love historical fiction but have to say that this one just doesn't appeal to me at all!! Don't bang your head any what you love!

nfmgirl said...

I actually am not a big hist-fic fan in general, but I do love cultural books that allow me to explore cultures I may otherwise never experience.

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com