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When thirteen-year-old Manikarnika leaves her father’s court-in-exile to marry the king of Jhansi, little does she realize the burden of greatness awaiting her. As she grows from a headstrong and spirited girl into a young woman wise beyond her years, learning to put aside personal disappointments and desires to emerge as a capable queen beloved of her people, she watches the political landscape around her shift and change chillingly under the control of the powerful East India Company. When the British annex Jhansi after the tragic deaths of her infant son and husband, Rani Lakshmibai turns for help to Robert Ellis, an officer in the East India Company and Jhansi’s political agent. But as war clouds gather and they find themselves ranged on either side of an impassable divide, his attempts to assist her, while staying loyal to his own government, are as destined to falter as is their increasing emotional attachment. Doomed love becomes a dramatic and unforgettable metaphor for Empire even as Lord Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse is all set to alter forever the contours of not only their lives but also the land they have both come to love. While Ellis is sent away in disgrace, Lakshmibai, in the company of her comrades-inarms and childhood playmates Tantia Tope and Nanasahib,isinexorably drawn into the vortex of the Great Mutiny of 1857, with catastrophic consequences. Printed Pages: 432.