REBEL SULTANS BY MANU S PILLAI308pp, Rs 599; JuggernautIn 1707 when Emperor Aurangzeb went to his grave, the Mughal empire began to crack into a hundred fractured pieces. It was the lure of the Deccan that drained this conqueror’s energies, putting him on a course of collision with his most threatening adversaries. After all, the Deccan was a land that inspired wonder. Its treasures were legendary, and its kings magnificent. It was a horizon of rousing adventure, attracting talent from beyond oceans. A traveler here could encounter bands of European snipers, available for military hire, or forbidding fortresses where African nobles scaled the heights of power. Diamonds and pearls lay heaped in the Deccan’s bazaars, while in its courts thrived Persians and Marathas, Portuguese and Georgians, presiding over a world of drama and betrayal. A thousand fortunes were made in the Deccan, drawing the formidable envy of generations of Mughal emperors. In Rebel Sultans, Manu S Pillai narrates the story of the Deccan from the close of the thirteenth century to the dawn of the eighteenth. Packed with riveting tales and compelling characters, this book takes us from the age of Allauddin Khilji to the ascent of Shivaji. We witness the dramatic rise and fall of the Vijayanagar empire, even as we negotiate intrigues at the courts of the Bahmani kings and the Rebel Sultans who overthrew them. From Chand Bibi, a valorous queen stabbed to death, and Ibrahim II of Bijapur, a Muslim prince who venerated Hindu gods to Malik Ambar the Ethiopian warlord, and Krishnadeva Raya on Vijayanagar’s Diamond Throne - they all appear in these page as we journey through one of the most arresting sweeps of Indian history. Unravelling a forgotten chapter in our medieval past, Rebel Sultans reminds us of a different age and a different time in the Deccan – one that ended an empire and rewrote India’s destiny. . THE OUTSIDER BY STEPHEN KING475pp, Rs 699; HachetteWhen an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man. Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day. As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: A man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he? SD BURMAN; THE PRINCE-MUSICIAN BY ANIDRUDHA BHATTACHARJEE & BALAJI VITTAL344pp, Rs 799; WestlandSD, or Sachin Dev Burman, the man who gave Hindi film music its grammar, is perhaps the most enigmatic figure in Indian cine history. As the young scion of the Tripura royal family, SD struck out into the world of cinema and popular music. The early years were difficult, professionally and personally. His unconventional choice of profession and marriage to a ‘commoner’ caused his family to ostracise him, and his formal training was not enough to stave off rejections. This well-researched biography – by the authors of the best-selling RD Burman: The Man, The Music – is both a tribute to a great artist, and a deep inquiry into what made his music great. Going well beyond merely listing his greatest songs, it explores hitherto unknown stories about the creation of each gem: Mera sundar sapna beet gaya (Do Bhai, 1948); Thandi hawaein (Naujawan, 1951); Yeh raat yeh chandni (Jaal , 1952); Babu samjho ishare (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, 1958); Meet na mila re mann ka (Abhiman, 1973), and more. The book is packed with insights into SD’s life, work , and his astute understanding of Hindi cinema. Despite the fact that he was an outsider who spoke little Hindi or Urdu, SD was the man who introduced Sahir Ludhianvi to the world, and the one who gave Kishore Kumar’s musical brilliance its due. His readiness to adapt to modern sounds and techniques, his unwavering faith in Lata Mangeshkar’s virtuosity, his closeness to Dev Anand that was seen as nepotism, charges of plagiarism – SD Burman: The Prince-Musician provides unmatched insight into both the genius of one of India’s most significant composers, and a crucial aspect of its glorious cinematic history. An essential addition to every film music aficionado library.