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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Nikhil Advani’s ‘Empire’ is adapted from Alex Rutherford’s ‘Empire of the Moghuls’; know about the novels

Needless to say, the Mughal dynasty makes for an incredible set piece, an almost tailor-made story to be adapted for a visual medium.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
August 30, 2021 11:24:45 am
Have you read the books? (Source:

Nikkhil Advani’s ‘Empire‘ recently dropped on Disney+ Hotstar. Directed by Mitakshara Kumar, the show consists of cast members like Kunal Kapoor, Dino Morea, Drashti Dhami among others. It is a fictional take on Mughal empire during the period 1526 to 1720. The series has been adapted from Alex Rutherford’s Empire of the Moghuls, a six-novel volume that traces the rise of the Mughal Empire in medieval India. Published from 2009-2015, one each year, the novels consists of Raiders from the North, Brothers at War, Ruler of the World, The Tainted Throne, The Serpent’s Tooth, and Traitors in the Shadows chronologically.

Raiders from the North explores Babur, the fascinating Mughal emperor, his attempt to replicate Timur’s legacy with the aid of faithful army. In Brothers At War, the action shifts to 1530 where Humayun is the now the emperor. His expansive empire runs for over 1000 miles. By Ruler of the World, Akbar is at the centre of the narrative. Touted as one of the most powerful rulers, he built on the legacy he was bequeathed, extending his empire from what was there. Akbar was also famed for his religious tolerance, a topic Rutherford underlines in the book.

Even then his tenure was not without bloodshed or problems. Rutherford writes about Akbar’s marriage to a Rajput princess, the turmoil in the arrangement and the fractured relationship he shared with his son Salim. In book four, The Tainted Throne, the action shifts to 1606 India and Jahangir is the ruler. His rule and throne are corrupted by his son’s lust for power.

In The Serpent’s Tooth, the narrative centers on the Mughal emperors who ruled central Asia during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Bloodshed continues still as Shah Jahan loses his wife, and his son Aurangzeb eyes his father’s throne.

Finally, in the last book Traitors in the Shadows, Aurangzeb sits on the throne. His cruelty has earned his enemies everywhere, leaving him with no one but himself to rely on.

Needless to say, the Mughal dynasty makes for an incredible set piece, an almost tailor-made story to be adapted for a visual medium. Speaking to Variety, Advani confessed he finished reading the volume in two months. “It’s a fascinating read, it’s extremely visual and visceral – I found it compelling and could not put it down. From the description of the clothes and the jewelry and the accessories and and the swords and to even the way the whole violence is done – it’s riveting stuff.”

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