Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore

Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore 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 Chithirarhirunal.Having learnt in a state syllabus school history of Kerala should have been taught , but whatever knowledge I had came through non curric 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 Chithirarhirunal.Having learnt in a state syllabus school history of Kerala should have been taught , but whatever knowledge I had came through non curricular books.This 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 places.Hadn t known about Sethu Laxmi Bai and was astonished that she could be swept out of the pages of history.And though her descendents are prominently mentioned..what 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 questions unanswered , and a few new queries and doubts after reading this book.Overall rating still remains 5, because positives far far outweigh negatives.Am in an Ivory throne hangover 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 queens My only grou 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 queens 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 be.Despite that, I still think this is a fantastic book worthy of your time FeministRead 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. Even though he made excellent research over house of Travancore, I feel he is a bit prejudiced over one side For eg on chapter malice domestique, there is a reference to press regulation act, there author states a motive behind controlling press is because some newspaper published stories facts we 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 country.As a passing Even though he made excellent research over house of Travancore, I feel he is a bit prejudiced over one side For eg on chapter malice domestique, there is a reference to press regulation act, there author states a motive behind controlling press is because some newspaper published stories facts we 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 country.As a passing note,On 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 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. A well written documentation about Travancore Interesting, worth reading. Quite 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 Quite 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 quite a lengthy 700 pages Author could have reduced the book by 100 or 200 pages It was quite a dullish and dry read In , 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 queen 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, quarrelling 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 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 Queen Sethu Lakshmi Bayi who ruled for a short while from 1924 to 1933 and was quite a remarkable ruler Travancore had the fortune to have enlightened rulers who tried to ensure t 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 Queen Sethu Lakshmi Bayi who ruled for a short while from 1924 to 1933 and was quite 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 quite 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 Queen, 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 quite 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 Make no mistake in tagging The Ivory Throne as a fascinating book about the history of the royal family of Travancore and one that would give rousing pleasure to history especially of India and Indian places fanatics like me but it is still hard for me to dismiss the possible hagiographical elements present in the biographical facets of this volume Pillai himself admits that the book is purely based on his correspondence to one side of the royal family and references available in the public d Make no mistake in tagging The Ivory Throne as a fascinating book about the history of the royal family of Travancore and one that would give rousing pleasure to history especially of India and Indian places fanatics like me but it is still hard for me to dismiss the possible hagiographical elements present in the biographical facets of this volume Pillai himself admits that the book is purely based on his correspondence to one side of the royal family and references available in the public domain The fact that the other side of the story was not retrieved due to failed correspondence with the folks makes it an account worth devouring also for its tiny nuggets of Kerala history but not something that should be taken on face value.The Ivory Throne makes for a great read but I won t be drawing conclusions from whatever it portrays as it relentlessly tries to whitewash its subject while diminishing some issues and possibly omitting others in the last 100 or so pages, which gave an overall dull effect to me as I finished reading the epilogue even during a tough personal time TN


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