A hypnotic page-turner about the grinding gears of historical change and ruthless palace intrigue in Persia, c. 1848.
The King, young Shah Naser, takes to the throne of Persia at a turning point of history: he inherits an enchanted medieval world of harems, eunuchs, and treasures as well as a palace of secret doors, sudden deaths, and hidden agendas. Within the court is danger enough: outside all manner of change threatensindustrialization, colonization. Russia and England conspire to open the King's empire; his mother and his vizier take opposing sides. The poor Kingalmost an exact contemporary of Queen Victoriais trapped. He likes some aspects of modernity (electricity, photography) but can't embrace democracy. He must be a sovereign: he must keep his throne. The King cannot face change and he cannot escape it.
With this gleaming and seemingly simple story, breathlessly paced and beautifully told, Kader Abdolah, the acclaimed Iranian émigré novelist, speaks of deeper truths. A novel which has many timely things to say about eras of change and upheaval, The King is an unforgettable book.