Ivory Throne MOBI Ò Kindle Edition

Ivory Throne In 1498 when Vasco da Gama set foot in Kerala looking for Christians and spices he unleashed a wave of political fury that would topple local powers like a house of cards The cosmopolitan fabric of a vibrant trading society with its Jewish and Arab merchants Chinese pirate heroes and masterful Hindu Zamorins was ripped apart heralding an age of violence and bloodshed One prince however emerged triumphant from this descent into chaos Shrewdly marrying Western arms to Eastern strategy Martanda Varma consecrated the dominion of Travancore destined to become one of the most dutiful pillars of the British Raj What followed was two centuries of internecine conflict in one of India's premier princely states culminating in a dynastic feud between two sisters battling to steer the fortunes of their house on the eve of Independence Manu S Pillai's retelling of this sprawling saga focuses on the remarkable life and work of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi the last and forgotten ueen of the House of Travancore The supporting cast includes the flamboyant painter Raja Ravi Varma and his wrathful wife scheming matriarchs of 'violent profligate and sordid' character wife swapping court favourites vigilant English agents uarrelling consorts and lustful kings Extensively researched and vividly rendered The Ivory Throne conjures up a dramatic world of political intrigues and factions black magic and conspiracies crafty ceremonies and splendorous temple treasures all harnessed in a tragic contest for power and authority in the age of empire


10 thoughts on “Ivory Throne

  1. Manu Manu says:

    Absolutely fantastic and the strange thing is if you had asked me when I was even at about page 400 out of 555 I probably would have used milder adjectives I also wouldn't have thought at that point that I was likely to change my opinion later because knowing the direction I didn't think the last 100 or so pages would even be interesting to me But while they're not really the focus of the book and an inevitable ending it to me is what delivered the texture that mattered most But let's begin at the beginning The focus of the book is definitely Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi who was the Regent of Travancore from 1924 31 but the author spends the first section of the book in setting the context The canvas is vaster than Travancore itself and everything from the fall of the Zamorin and the entry of Europeans to the evolution of the intricacies that decide the ruler of the land and the prevalent socio cultural setting sets the stage for the reign of the Senior Maharani A large section of the book is spent on the rule of the Maharani and her now invisible hand in the transformation of a society The work she did served as the foundation for the much vaunted socio economic indices that Kerala displays now This portion of the book is also home to palace intrigues that portray the junior Maharani a cousin and the mother of the last Maharajah of Travancore as the 'villain of the piece' From a historical perspective I found the facts around Sir CP and Chithira Thirunal the last Maharajah very interesting since my only exposure to them thus far has been in popular Malayalam cinema yes The perspectives on the temple treasure saga that appear late in the book and which happened as recently as this decade were also an eye opener I think what affected me in those last hundred pages was the poignancy in the closing of the circle of the Maharani's life the relative obscurity before her adoption to the royal household at a young age to her spending her final days in a small room in Bangalore without the trappings of royalty in a relatively obscure existence As the author began writing about her daughters and the next generation I felt a faint sense of grudgeirritation for the seemingly casual way in which they treated their legacy material and otherwise But the last few pages put them in a different light and I found myself empathising with them The author's admiration of Lakshmi Bayi is than evident and probably deservedly so While one might feel there is some loss of objectivity here he does take pains to also chronicle credit for even those who can be seen as her enemies Indeed he deserves a lot of credit on multiple counts the research and scrutiny that has gone into the book the excellent way of providing the context for events and behaviour the writing style that makes sure history is accessible and not presented dryly and most importantly the sensitivity that he has shown in chronicling lives In 555 pages there is legend then history and then contemporary stories one can identify with That journey is fascinating


  2. Em*bedded-in-books* Em*bedded-in-books* says:

    Am in awe of this magnum opus book and it's young erudite author A niggling doubt whether he's related to the Ivory throne family 🤔The Kerala I was born in and the Kerala I knew has a vivid history with varying chieftains and kings fighting against each other I was born in the Zamorin's territory but had heard of Marthanda Varma and Sri ChithirarhirunalHaving learnt in a state syllabus school history of Kerala should have been taught but whatever knowledge I had came through non curricular booksThis book filled a huge void in my knowledge of the history of the state which I was born in Found this very educative and interesting though a bit dragging in very few placesHadn't known about Sethu Laxmi Bai and was astonished that she could be swept out of the pages of historyAnd though her descendents are prominently mentionedwhat about Junior Maharanis descendents ? They merit only a few pages Is it because they didn't agree to be talked about ? Or they just led inconspicuous lives in the disintegrating Kowdiar palace ?Still a few uestions unanswered and a few new ueries and doubts after reading this bookOverall rating still remains 5 because positives far far outweigh negativesAm in an Ivory throne hangover


  3. Anjana Anjana says:

    Very well written book Just could not keep it down The story of thr unknown maharani of travancore Written from the perspective her feelings her fears her happiness her sorrows By the end started to admire her personality People of kerala deserves to know about her A must read for all keralites


  4. Aswathyjay Aswathyjay says:

    Even though he made excellent research over house of Travancore I feel he is a bit prejudiced over one side For egon chapter malice domestiue there is a reference to press regulation act there author states a motive behind controlling press is because some newspaper published storiesfactswe may never know which is truth against royal consort In following pages author tried to whitewash her doings by stating she was trying to rein communalism being spread over her countryAs a passing noteOn reading each page I feel fortunate to be born in democratic age where everyone has a say No maharani or maharaja could force me to say or write what I like


  5. Shweta Ganesh Kumar Shweta Ganesh Kumar says:

    One of the first things I do when I come home to Kerala on vacations is book shopping Specifically books by Indian authors This time I found this gem by Manu Pillai The Ivory Throne is the history of the royal house of Travancore but it is also in many ways the history of Kerala's evolution to its current avatar Meticulously researched non fiction penned like fiction making it unputdownable I highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest in Kerala and feminist ueens My only grouse with the book is that it could have done with a bit of editing post 400 pages The author seems to have been too close to the massive research he has done for this tome choosing to share every minute detail even those which are not really relevant to moving the book ahead He also seems to be a tad of an apologist for Sethu Lakshmi Bayi seemingly too close to her and her work choosing to gloss over even unjustifiable parts of her reign few as they may beDespite that I still think this is a fantastic book worthy of your time #FeministRead


  6. Hiran Venugopalan Hiran Venugopalan says:

    A well written documentation about Travancore Interesting worth reading


  7. Alfa Hisham Alfa Hisham says:

    It is 700 pages of bliss Especially to one who is unaware of Kerala history this book is an eye opener Thoroughly researched and cleverly written it becomes one of the must have books in your shelf Manu has become the Indian Dalrymple keeping the reader clued in to history from the beginning till the end The sandwiched photographs of the royals and the palaces is an absolute delight And I strongly believe this is the way history needs to be taught in schools


  8. Smisha B Smisha B says:

    Mind blowing


  9. Ajay Ajay says:

    uite a boring book Felt like book was commissioned by the Rani Lakhshmi Sethu Bai This book is not even about Travancore family as the book title mentioned Rather than the history of Travancore family the book is biased towards and concentrates too much on Sethu Lakshmi Bai And at times it felt like writer try to whitewash unjustifiable parts of her reign Too much attention on palace politics such as court intrigues jealousy royal secrets and power battles The book does throw insights into the social and economic situation And references is heavily based on manuscripts written by royal family of British It is uite a lengthy 700 pages Author could have reduced the book by 100 or 200 pages It was uite a dullish and dry read


  10. Vivek Vivek says:

    Manu S Pillai's book The Ivory Throne tells the history of the royal family of Travancore This book was of special interest to me as my family was from the kingdom of Travancore I have heard my father tell some of the stories in the book and seen the palaces in Trivandrum first hand The book focuses mainly on the ueen Sethu Lakshmi Bayi who ruled for a short while from 1924 to 1933 and was uite a remarkable ruler Travancore had the fortune to have enlightened rulers who tried to ensure the welfare of the state and did not waste state resources on frivolous expenses like some of the other princes of India The current status of Kerala as the most literate and best performing Indian state on social indices can be traced to the forward thinking policies of the princely rulers of the state But this book is uite boring in many parts It suffers from excessive detail At 630 pages it includes irrelevant minutiae from the lives of the family that could easily have been excluded There are tedious pages devoted to the antics of the children and grand children of the ueen their lives as socialites and the pranks they played on their teachers and domestic staff Though the notes are copious the narrative lacks colour probably because the sources are not diverse enough The writing style is also uite wordy borrowing the Victorian style of his subjects' correspondence Read this if you wish to study the history of Kerala but then skip the irrelevant chapters to save time


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