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India, 1938. The life of Abhayraj, the heir of Maharaj Hiroji, the ruler of the princely state of Begwad, is not unlike that of many young princes caught between two worlds-indeed, two eras. On the one hand are the traditions of the feudal, close-knit community ruled by his father that he is bound to follow, and on the other the pressures of independence as British dominion over begins to wane.
Seeking a path of his own, Abhay joins the Indian army and fights in the Burma campaign during World War II. On his return, however, he is forced into a conventional marriage, and after his father's dramatic death becomes the Maharaja, to rule for just forty-nine days before he is compelled to merge his state with free India in 1948.
Hailed as an unusual historical saga at the time of its release, The Princes was first published in New York in 1963 and was selected by the Literary Guild of America as a novel of the month that year. Available now in a beautiful new edition, it offers an enthralling, intimate glimpse into life in India's princely states through the story of a royal family caught in a struggle for survival, in a nation embracing democracy for the very first time.
'In a fast-paced account which gives us an insight into the fascinating world of princely states with their aura of power, tiger hunts, champagne, and pearls, to their integration into independent India, Malgonkar traverses an India that was. Legitimacy and illegitimacy, fidelity and infidelity, bravery and cowardice go hand in hand whether of the ruler or the ruled in this unputdownable novel.' -Rana Safvi, author
'Manohar Malgonkar writes detachment and wit ... The character of the father is vividly and boldly drawn; that of the son subtly and attractively matures; the social and political history is blended into the novel with considerable skill. And the measured, stately prose of old England proves itself to be still a wonderfully serviceable instrument.' - The Times Literary Supplement, London
'Abiding interest ... The Princes is a wonderfully decent and informative story.' - The Sunday Times
'A brilliant picture of a vanishing, if not vanished, scene, the world of the small princely states of India ... Manohar Malgonkar writes wittily and dispassionately.' - British Book News
'A brilliantly realised novel about India as seen through Indian eyes.' - Western Mail
Manohar Malgonkar (1913-2010) was an eminent post-Independence writer whom R.K. Narayan once referred to as his ‘favourite Indian novelist in English'. Born near Belgaum, Malgonkar was the grandson of the prime minister of a former princely state of Dewas. He served in the army during World War II, was a big-game hunter, a farmer, a mine owner and an adventurer. Later, he started working as a journalist and thereafter took to book writing. His works are as diverse as his personal life and have a blend of history, romance and military life. Many of his works have been translated into several European languages. In an article published in The New York Times in 1965, he was hailed as ‘one of India's most exuberant storytellers'.