Book Review – The Aryavarta Chronicles Book 3- Kurukshetra

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TITLE : The Aryavarta Chronicles Book 3- Kurukshetra
AUTHOR : Krishna Udayshankar
PUBLISHER : Hachette India
GENRE : Fiction ( Mytho- historical)

Kurukshetra

THE AUTHOR

Krishna U

A graduate in law from NLSIU Banglore, Krishna Udayasankar holds a PhD in Strategic Management from Nanyang Business School, Singapore where she presently works as a lecturer.

Kurukshetra the third book in The Aryavarta Chronicles series is preceded by Govinda her debut novel and Kaurava. She has also authored Objects of Affection, a full length collection of poetry and is also editor of Body Boundaries: The Etiquette Anthology of Women’s Writing.

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THE BOOK

Blurb

War is upon the realm, but is Aryavarta prepared for what it will bring?

The empire that was Aryavarta fades under the shadow of doom. As a bitter struggle ensues to gain control of the divided kingdoms, Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa of the Firstborn and the Secret Keeper of the Firewrights both watch from the wings as their own blood, their kin, savage and kill on the fields of Kurukshetra. Restraint and reason have deserted the rulers who once protected the land and they manipulate, scheme and destroy with abandon- for victory is all that matters.

At the heart of the storm stands Govinda Shauri, driven by fickle allies and failed kings to the very brink of darkness. He may well be the greatest danger Aryavarta has faced yet, for he is determined to change things forever. Reforging the forsaken realm in the fire of his wrath, he prepares to destroy everything he loves and make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of one last hope: that humanity will rise, that there will be revolution.

WHAT I FELT ABOUT THE BOOK

HIGHS

The Cover: Eye- catching. The first thing that caught my eyes as soon as I received the book is the sentence at the top: The epic as it was never told before.

This book has justified the same.

Author’s note: A beautiful introduction to the book, something one must read without fail before embarking on the journey called ‘Kurukshetra’.

The hierarchy chart and the cast of characters: A wonderful guide necessary to understand quite a lot about the characters and groups that find a mention/ are the fore players in the story.

Story-line and Characters: Interesting, intriguing and gripping. Interesting because the book looks at the Mahabharata from a different perspective. Intriguing because with each passing page I felt more and more curious to know where the story was heading for. Though the Mahabharata is not new to me yet the blurb, the author’s note and the cast of characters especially the Firewrights, Firstborn and The Secret Keeper had me confused and guessing. Gripping because it kept me spell-bound till the very end.

True to her words in the ‘Author’s Note’, Krishna Udayshankar has put forth a story, a reality based on a completely different set of assumptions. Like most Indian mythological stories, the Mahabharata too is open to interpretation and the author’s interpretation had me spell- bound. What I liked is that here there are neither bad boys nor good boys. Syoddhan ( Duruyodhna) who has always been portrayed as all that’s evil seemed for once normal and humane at places while Dharma (Yudhishtra) who is always seen as the virtuous one, is shown as weak, selfish and arrogant in some parts. All the other characters too including Bhisma Devavrata, Sanjay and even Govinda (Krishna) are projected as normal human beings driven by their own selfish desires, ambitions, fears and weakness. The two sides of the human mind are well reflected in each one of them, their thoughts and actions.

The first 180 pages or so give us an insight into the thoughts, the emotions running within the two warring camps, their plans, their strategies while the next two hundred pages or so deal with the war. Even the war that unfolds in the pages of the book looks realistic, down to earth. The element of divine especially in respect of the weapons used that we come across in the various interpretations of the Mahabharata, is missing. It is just the wonder of science of metallurgy and chemistry that one gets to see here. The valor, emotions and battle scenes are put forth beautifully. Each whiz of the arrow, each battle cry rings in your ears as you course through the maze of words that bring live the war.

The characters of Panchali, Govinda , Shikhandin, Uttara and Abhimanyu stand out among the crowd. There are umpteen numbers of twists and turns each adding value to the book.

The essence of the Gita as well as the relationship between Abhimanyu and Uttara are very well captured in the pages of the book and make interesting read.

Language : Language is simple, lucid and crisp. Long winding sentences and chapters generally take away the sheen from a book and tough vocabulary proves to be a stumbling block in the flow. Thankfully Krishna Udayshankar has taken care of these two aspects well. But yes, to be able to really appreciate the book one needs to devote ample time and not just whiz through the pages.

Pace and Length: The pace and length of the book is fine neither too fast nor to slow, neither too short nor too long.

LOWS

Editing: Could have been tighter. There are a few typos. But I must mention here that this does not in any way affect my rating of the book.

SO TRUE:

Some quotes/ parts from the book that left me thinking

-‘And now that they are more useful than their land, we come to barter with them,’ Uttara finished, bitterness straining her voice.

-Sadev chose his words carefully. “In every story there are heroes. But it is not always the heroes who move the tale forward or do what needs to be done. There are others, and their story is hardly told. We are such men, Nakul. We are not heroes, we are those who stand by them, in their shadows. The world will speak of Dharma Yudhisthir, of Bhim Vikrodara and Partha Savyasachin and … and their brothers. It is how things are. But that does not mean that we cannot, do not turn the tide.”

Shalya’s jaw briefly tightened. Then he said, ‘Yes, Sadev. Law and scripture may well be on one side. But if law and scripture were all that mattered, then a piece of parchment may well be the king and a stone edict, emperor. One who seeks to lead must be capable of independent thought, of reason and restraint, both. ….’

THEN THERE IS THIS THAT I REALLY LOVED:

She did not know who spoke, her or Govinda, or neither, but the words seemed to come from within her ears, not fall on them. A gentle chant:

A fist- length below the neck
Lies a budding lotus-bloom
Inverted, inward-looking,
This is the human heart.
It beats incessant,
fed by life-giving blood.
It is the corporeal home of
the incorporeal soul
the core of the divine
light within us

WRAPPING UP

Recommendation & Rating: A must read I give this book 4 on a scale of 5.

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Kurukshetra (Aryavarta Chronicles, #3)

BUYING LINKS

amazon.in
II sapnaonline
flipkart II rediffBOOKS
amazon.com II crossword

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