A globe-spanning, epic novel about the diamond worshippers who, over the centuries, risked their lives and kingdoms to possess the world’s most awe-inspiring gem.
By the time Queen Victoria slipped the Mountain of Light diamond on her wrist, claiming it for England, the gem had traveled around the world, changing hands over the centuries from one ruler to another in Persia, Afghanistan, and India.
The fascinating story of this 105-carat diamond opens in 1830, when the Indian Maharaja and founder of the Sikh empire Ranjit Singh takes possession of the massive jewel that has been passed from man to man, king to king, and emperor to emperor, through bloodshed and destruction, since the 1200s. But India in the nineteenth century is a very different place. Now the British Empire has claimed territories all across the country and the colonization of India takes root. When Ranjit Singh dies, four of his sons are slaughtered in wars with the British, and the diamond is left to Prince Dalip Singh, a six-year-old child. The British governor-general orders that the Mountain of Light be secreted out of India in 1850, and the teenage-king Dalip Singh follows the diamond to London to officially present it to the queen as a spoil of the Sikh War. He is feted and petted by the British monarchy for a long while—until he realizes that all that Britain gives him cannot make up for the loss of his country and its celebrated diamond.
In her inimitable trademark style, Indu Sundaresan’s The Mountain of Light is a wondrous and historically rich tale, as clear and as dazzling as a diamond itself.
About the Author
Indu Sundaresan was born in India and came to the US for graduate school at the University of Delaware. She is the author of two acclaimed novels, The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses.
Praise for The Mountain of Light…
“On one level, Indu Sundaresan's novel Mountain of Light is a fascinating tale about a mythical jewel, filled with adventure and romance, that draws the reader in. But on a deeper level, it is a keen and heart-rending examination of the costs of colonialism.”
“Once again Indu Sundaresan has brought history to life in this well-researched novel tracing the story of the 186-carat Kohinoor diamond, through years of war and royal intrigue in the Punjab, to the time of English rule when the priceless gem is secreted overseas to Queen Victoria in England. Above all, it’s her characters that stand out. From rich maharajahs to poor old women who sell chai to the soldiers, each person comes alive on the page. Whether you read The Mountain of Light for its dramatic story, its lush setting, or its vivid characters, this novel will give you insights into history that will change you.”
-Janet Lee Carey