A tall, yellow-haired young European traveller calling himself 'Mogor dell'Amore', the Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the real Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the whole imperial capital. The stranger claims to be the child of a lost Mughal princess, the youngest sister of Akbar's grandfather Babar: Qara Köz, 'Lady Black Eyes', a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, who is taken captive first by an Uzbeg warlord, then by the Shah of Persia, and finally becomes the lover of a certain Argalia, a Florentine soldier of fortune, commander of the armies of the Ottoman Sultan. When Argalia returns home with his Mughal mistress the city is mesmerized by her presence, and much trouble ensues.
The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man's world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other - the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire and the treachery of sons, and the equally sensual Florentine world of powerful courtesans, humanist philosophy and inhuman torture, where Argalia's boyhood friend "il Machia" - Niccolò Machiavelli - is learning, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. These two worlds, so far apart, turn out to be uncannily alike, and the enchantments of women hold sway over them both.
But is Mogor's story true? And if so, then what happened to the lost princess? And if he's a liar, must he die?
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"A brilliant, fascinating, generous novel...wonderful" ( Guardian)
"A wild and whirling novel" ( Observer)
"For Rushdie, as for the artists he writes about, the pen is a magician's wand. There is more magic than realism in this latest novel. But it is, I think, one of his best. If The Enchantress of Florence doesn't win this year's Man Booker I'll curry my proof copy and eat it" ( Financial Times)
"My first desire on finishing it was to go back and re-read it. Like all of Rushdie's work, the playfulness, the passion, the erudition and the sensuousness go hand in hand. It's immensely rich...it's one of his best" ( Scotsman)
"An exuberant mix of fantasy and history" ( Daily Mail)
"[Rushdie] has a rare mastery of language, and when you read his work you cannot help but feel you are in the company of a mighty intelligence... Salman Rushdie is undoubtedly one of our greatest storytellers" ( Herald)
"Mesmerising, picaresque... It is a boisterous tale piled high with sex and adventure and fantasy" ( Tatler)
`A less playful writer would get bogged down in this rich mix...but it is effervescent...in Rushdie's hands.'
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