Thanks a ton everyone for the ideas and suggestions. First of all, I will publish this one on the Kindle- that was a decision which your reactions certainly helped shape. Also, based on your suggestions and some I got on the Amazon boards, I'll do a couple of things:
1. Include a historical note so that any interested reader can get some more background
2. Include a glossary for translations of local terms esp. Mughal military/administrative units since the book is primarily a military thriller set in the period
Also, thanks for some great suggestions on how to make American readers relate more to the theme. Several ideas came to mind:
1. Today the US accounts for more than 25% of Global GDP. In the 1700s, another power accounted for about 23% of Global GDP. That power was what we know today as India under the Mughal Empire.
2. The Mughal Empire looked powerful but had several weaknesses that caused it to rot at the core:
- It got caught up in several of it's own `wars on terror' against the Sikhs and Marathas which had no clear end point. To the Mughals, these were punitive expeditions to get taxes- but to the locals, they became wars of liberation- and these sapped away resources and morale.
- A familiar enemy- the Mughals were blindsided by the threat from Afghan raiders- till the capital Delhi itself was sacked. There was a Mughal Army in Kabul- but it was headed by the most corrupt Prince, and did little to enforce Mughal rule, and chose (perhaps wisely) to not try and do much outside of the city of Kabul. The rest of Afghanistan remained a wild land.
3. Being so internally focused that they totally ignored the threat posed by the British. A turning point was in 1757 when a small force of the East India Company defeated the Nawab of Bengal in a battle over trading privileges. That was the first time the British started dreaming of conquest in India. If the Mughal Empire had intervened in that battle, history would have been very different.
I guess every empire in history, from the Romans to the Mughals to the British after WWII and perhaps the US in modern times suffers similar contradictions and pressures, and if I can weave those threads into the historical note, should hopefully make it more relatable to Western readers.
Thanks a ton folks- now on to the writing!