Empire Of The Moghul: Raiders From The North is the first of five historical adventure fiction books written by Alex Rutherford, which chronicles the reign of the Moghul Empire in medieval India, starting with King Babur. Rutherford’s glorious, broad- sweeping adventure in the wild lands of the Moghul sees the start of a wonderful series.In Babur, he has found a real- life hero, with all the flaws, mistakes and misadventures that spark true heroism. It is 1494, when the ruler of Ferghana, a humble kingdom in Central Asia, dies in an extraordinary accident leaving no other option for his son Babur, to inherit the kingdom at a dangerously young age of twelve. Throughout his life, Babur struggles to live up to the expectations from him, because of his royal lineage, because he was the descendant of Tamburlaine (often referred to as Timur), a great conqueror whose conquests stretched from Delhi to the Mediterranean, from wealthy Persia to the wild Volga. But Babur’s young age of inheritance is a literal death warrant!
I am pretty sure that most of the readers would know him as the great founder of the Moghul Dynasty, but mostly know body knows about the journey he undertook. Without spoiling it for other readers, let me say that it was Hobbesian, – nasty, brutish and harsh. Not only did Babur have to fight the brutal Uzbeks led by the legendary Shaibani Khan, he also had to fight his cousins and half-brothers all the time. At times Babur lost battles and kingdoms. He led a hand-to-mouth existence for many years, sustained only by the belief that Timur’s blood flowed in his veins and that he was entitled to power and a Kingdom.
In the early days, his grandmother, Esan Dawlat, showered him with her strong advice and his guide and Chief mentor, Wazir Khan always stood faithfully by his side. The author very explicitly entails the fears and lack of confidence that Babur initially faced; the thrill and anxiety he experienced when he was about to capture the opulent city of Samarkand, the grief and frustration that entered him when he lost the kingdom of Ferghana, however small it maybe. The novel promises detailed accounts of the midnight raids by Babur and his men (many-a-times just a handful); the ecstasy at discovering secret passages; the inspiration and a sense of responsibility which Babur realised, everytime he glanced at the ring of Timur in his hand. Finally after facing all the treasonous plots, tribal rivalries, rampaging armies, he establishes himself as the ruler of Hindustan, with the satisfaction of having built an empire to give his sons in inheritance.
The author has taken detailed accounts of Babur’s life from his autobiography, The Baburnama, and has maintained a fair balance between fact and drama. On the whole, the novel runs at a neck breaking speed and kept me eagerly hopping to the next page. Sticking faithfully to known historical facts, Rutherford has brought in some 56 characters on the stage, with plausible dialogues and day-to-day events and emotions that do not seem contrived, he has made a praiseworthy contribution.