"Rebel Queen", by Michelle Moran

Rebel Queen: A Novel - Michelle Moran
Also under the title “The Last Queen of India”

Once more Ms. Moran has brought to life a moment in history and has transported us back in time when the British Empire was setting its sights on India in the mid-19th century. At the time India was not a country but a collection of kingdoms. This historical fiction is of Rani (Queen) Lakshmi of Jhansi, one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and an epitome of bravery and courage.

Told from the perspective of Sita, the Queen’s most trusted female soldier, the story highlights how the Queen resisted the takeover of her kingdom from the invading empire. She was so determined to protect her country and her people she raised two armies, one male and one female to ride with her into battle and defend the land she loved so much.

The story mainly depicts both life at the royal court and the everyday life for the women in India who had at the time very little freedom and lived in seclusion. In the first part of the book, Sita tells how she was raised and trained to become a warrior in the Queen’s service. In the second half, Sita finds that freedom comes at a cost and must discover whom she can trust from those she can’t…

In “Rebel Queen”, history plays out as the backdrop to Sita personal story and is a deeply moving story that focuses on the characters. Both the Queen and Sita are strong independent characters. This book is beautifully written and the perfect balance between facts and fiction. The author pays a lot of attention to details, especially concerning the colourful sari Indian women wear and their traditional ways of life. Although mostly a fiction this book is an eye opener on how the British took over land, crushed the local culture and set their rules upon the population (at least those still breathing). It also captures the differences with castes and why this still exist to this day.

I am a huge fan of Ms. Moran and I have read and enjoyed all of her books to date. I must admit that if history lessons would have been taught in a lively manner such the author does I would have been far more attentive to my classes….The author did not forget to tells us where the fine line between her imagination and the real events stands and has included a list of references and a glossary to orient us.

Once more, well- done Ms. Moran