"Rebel Queen recounts the story of Sita, a beautiful young woman from a remote village in nineteenth century India, who is granted a rare opportunity to serve in Queen Lakshmi's elite all-female army, the Durga Dal. Leaving behind her widowed father and young sister, Sita travels to the Kingdom of Jhansi and begins a new life of opulence and excitement, all while saving money for her sister's dowry. Her good luck is short-lived, however, as the British army gains a stronghold in India and threatens to take over Queen Lakshmi's throne. Intrigue, deception, murder, and culture clashes ensue, but the queen does not give up her kingdom without a fight. Sita, ever faithful to her queen, pledges her allegiance to the kingdom, even though it means she must sacrifice her beloved family and a way of life that can never be reclaimed."
It seems to me that a lot of wars could have been prevented if the British hadn't had such an inflated idea about themselves and just stopped trying to take over everywhere they went. I mean come on man... couldn't you just have traded and enjoyed the hospitality shown to you by these countries? No... of course not... you had to conquer it all... it kind of reminds me of my son not wanting to share his toys... but also wanting his friends' toys at the same time!
I'll admit my ignorance when it comes to the history of India, so while this book was very informative, it wasn't quite as exciting or good as I think it could have been. I guess those are the limitations when writing historical fiction and trying to stick to the facts as much as possible? Either way, I think the author didn't do herself a lot of favors by skimming over the action-y scenes, as it would have lent a bit more oomph to an otherwise just okay book.
The characters were generally well developed, with a few misses here and there. Sometimes they seemed deep and sincere, and at other times they were superficial and unreal. Especially Anu didn't ring true in the end, although I guess what she went through could change someone as completely as it did her... thank God I don't know, and I sincerely hope I never find out.
If nothing else, I found myself googling India and Jhansi and the palace, so at least I'm better informed now than before I read this book. And while I respect other cultures and think it's wrong to wage war to force them to conform to your own culture and religion as has been and still is the case... I am so grateful that I was not born a woman in India! Purdah sounds like the worst kind of punishment devised, and I find it so hard to try and understand why!? And these poor women don't even know what they're missing... as Sita says in the book... that's just the way things were, and they didn't know there was any other options.