Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
The Other Side of Eden by Fazle Chowdhury, a family epic, begins in 1947 as Sultan Aslan tries to restore peace and harmony within his province. He is pressured from both East and West who try to convince the Sultan that they can help to pacify the opposing forces, but both come with their own set of risks in dismantling his province. Aslan has just welcomed his son, Prince Fardeen, back to the Irani Palace where he had been assisting the British in battle. As Aslan struggles to hold onto power against the rebels, betrayals, and an unhappy marriage, he still remains loyal to his family. As Aslan continues to hold the title of Sultan, a role he never wanted, he is also forced to marry a woman who controls those around her with an abusive rod of iron. Aslan believes his role is more important than his own happiness and therefore keeps the existence of his true love a secret. As the Sultan's enemies are moving ever closer, Aslan finally confronts those who betrayed him. Sultan Aslan, facing defeat, makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the last thing in the world he treasures.
The descriptive narrative in this story is exceptional. Fazle Chowdhury writes so beautifully, each of your senses comes to life. The characters' backstories are extremely detailed so you truly get an insight into their thought patterns and views of the world. The author draws you into the world of the characters very quickly. There is an incredible amount of tension and suspense throughout as Aslan tries to keep control of his province. Aslan's wife, the queen, was a horrific character especially when her daughter died; her actions were unbelievable. There are also some graphic scenes of the cruelest crimes against humanity, especially the torture scenes, and this brought a whole new layer of realism to The Other Side of Eden. Throughout the plot, you really get a sense of how far a person is willing to go to fight for their cause, no matter how wrong it is. I found the ending really tense as I could not see a way out for Aslan. If you love historical fiction, this is definitely a must-read.