Study Guide

Minor Characters in Beneath a Marble Sky

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Minor Characters


Like all great divas, Shivaji only goes by one name. He's a charismatic young leader of the Hindu Marathas, a fierce military force who are sworn enemies of the Empire.

When Jahanara goes to the Sultan of Bijapur to argue for the release of Isa and Arjumand, he's hosting Shivaji with a little dinner party. How cute. And although he may be an enemy of the Mughal Empire, Shivaji isn't a bad dude at all. He's impressed with Jahanara's tenacity and wit and is almost flirty with her despite her mission. So we have him to thank for the extended time she is granted with her loved ones:

"Ahmed [the Sultan] isn't always a good man, but neither is he as bad as he seems. I asked him to give you a week together, and he said no. And so we drank a flask of wine, and he said yes." Shivaji laughed. "Perhaps it was two flasks." (21.91)

Although we don't encounter him again in our book, we kind of wish we could. Maybe he and Ladli could have had a spin-off together. We think it'd be like a cross between the witty repartee of the Gilmore Girls and the plot of Game of Thrones. Get on it, Hollywood.

Sultan of Bijapur

The Sultan of Bijapur is a rude, haughty guy, but he's not all that bad. He does agree to release Isa and Arjumand once they finish his mosque, and he's pretty quick to agree to Shivaji's proposal that Jahanara get more time with her family.


Akbar "the Great" was the third Mughal Emperor, so he was Shah Jahan's grandfather. He was celebrated for his success in expanding and stabilizing the Empire during his reign. For our purposes, though, Akbar is the name of the pet peregrine falcon that Shah Jahan and Jahanara adopt during their long imprisonment together.

Lord Babur

Lord Babur is a noble in Hindustan who accuses his neighbor Ismail of stealing a sack of rice. Don't worry—Mumtaz Mahal comes up with a clever way to solve the whole dilemma.


Ibrahim is a fisherman Arjumand happily marries.


Ismail is a guy accused of stealing a sack of rice from Lord Babur. But he was starving, so Mumtaz Mahal made him give up his farm, which he could no longer work on due to age and the loss of his sons, and instead be the official gardener at the Red Fort. Not too shabby.

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