Rebel Queen, Michelle Moran
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Touchstone
Source: ARC from 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting
When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves.
Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi’s all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men.
I loved this book! What I’ve read about India under the British has been only from the English perspective so I loved getting to read about India from the perspective of her own people. The Queen of Jhansi keeps her own small service of women at arms, her Durga Dal, who are loyal only to her. While the book description says that the this is the Queen’s story, I would say that Queen Lakshmi was amazing – but this was Sita’s story.
Sita was raised by her father to take the position in the palace – to rise from a poor village to live at the Queen’s side. She dives right into the drama of the royal court and while she flourishes she is also trying to provide for the sister she left behind. The tension between the British and the Indian people is high and the fallout heartbreaking. You have to know going in that this is not going to be a happy story – but it was fascinating and wonderfully told.
This was my first Michelle Moran book but I will definitely be picking up her others! I’ve had my eye on Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution for a while now.
Thank you Touchstone for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!