Author: Shazia Omar
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
“Whosoever possesses Kalinoor shall suffer its curse: all that they cherish shall perish.”
Shazia Omar takes us deep into the forgotten history of Bengal, unraveling parts of the country and its heritage that have never been discussed before. She has beautifully captured the Mughal history, the neglected treasures, the lives of the people living in that period. While reading you can very well understand how detailed the descriptions are; how extensive the research is. Dark Diamond is filled with exotic adventures, brutality and drama.
From the start of the story, it becomes clear that there is a diamond, Kalinoor, that is cursed. Whoever possesses this diamond seldom survives. Lord Shayista Khan, the Mughal Viceroy of Bengal, has acquired the diamond which is slowly leading to Bengal’s destruction. Shayista Khan soon realizes that everything he holds dear is slowly slipping from his hands; his true love, his daughter and the fate of the people of bengal. Under his jurisdiction, Bengal has soared to great heights becoming a hub of commerce and culture and now he has to fight his enemies; Arakan Rajas, Hindu zamindars, Marathas and even East India Company to protect his Empire. There is a lot of magical realism in her novel. There is a vicious Pir whose main motive is to capture Kalinoor and ruin Bengal. I am not really an ardent reader of magical realism but Shazia Omar made it look real without going overboard.
“Power corrupts completely. If you want power, you have to play by power’s rules: you have to play from the head not the heart. Release the desire for power. Desire is from the ego”
The existence of the diamond soon spreads all over the country and everyone wishes to acquire it. Hence, the quest for the dark diamond, Kalinoor, begins. While Shayista Khan is dealing with loss, battles and longing for his daughter, his enemies are conspiring to posses the diamond.
There are several other equally strong characters in the novel that make it even more gripping. The female characters surely had my attention. Despite the torments and destruction, they held their grounds and kept fighting for their rights, much like the women of the 21st century.
“Lightness and darkness both exist within us.”
The author’s writing style is appealing, she takes the readers along with her on an adventure that’s captivating and informative. It is a quick read shuffling between the POV’s of the characters making it fast paced. The ending was satisfactory, justifying the fate of the characters and their journey. The political upheavals, religious intolerance, the secular nature of Bengal during the Mughal empire have been artistically narrated by the author.
I was really intrigued by the character of Bengal’s viceroy, Lord Shayista Khan, who relentlessly worked to bring about prosperity and peace in Bengal but was caught in a web of curses. Despite his forceful nature and extreme anger, the readers would be able to connect with him. Deep down inside is a man who is broken and suffers emotional trauma while on the outside is a man who is strong, brutal to his armies and devoted to the welfare of his people.
I have a thing for historical fictions and Dark Diamond was surely up my alley. Shazia Omar has a lot of potential and I really hope to read more of her works in the near future.
Which is your favorite historical novel?
“I wish I could show you,
when you are lonely or in darkness,
the astonishing light of your own being.”