TITLE: The Indus Challenge
AUTHOR: R. Durgadoss
PUBLISHER: Rupa Publications
GENRE: Fiction (Historical / Mythological )
Bharat is in chaos. While the kingdoms fight each other, Alexander’s forces gather for the assault, their leader lured by tales of supernatural weapons and the elixir of immortality. Only one man can save the subcontinent from domination by the Greeks: the young Chandragupta Maurya, trained under the aegis of the ‘dark brahmin’, Chanakya.
When an ancient seal is found, sharing the secrets of the brahmastra, the redoubtable weapon of the Mahabharat, it is up to Rudra, young commander of the Mauryan Nava Yuva Sena and lifelong friend and confidante of Chandragupta, to decode it. Along with his fellow commandos, and with the able guidance of his guru, Rudra embarks on a quest that takes him from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the seas of Rameshwaram, hunting the clues that will lead him to the brahmastra. On the way, he meets the Chiranjivis, ancient beings tasked with divine duties, and learns the secrets behind his own birth and his mysterious powers.
But Rudra must be careful, for not all enemies were dispersed with the death of the mighty Alexander. Treachery lurks in the home, and when Rudra is framed for the attempted murder of his sovereign, he must pull every trick at his disposal to reveal the enemy, and save his kingdom from plunging, once more, into bloodshed and chaos.
A historical, mythological adventure story, The Indus Challenge is sure to appeal to readers interested in the storied past of India and the legends woven into its soil.
PLOT/ STORY-LINE : Interesting, intriguing and one in which the author’s imaginative side is very much evident. To weave a story combining history with mythology seamlessly is indeed a tough task. However the author has to a considerable extent succeeded in the same. Revolving around the Maurayan Empire lead by Chandragupta Maurya, the story has as its protagonist neither Chandragupta nor Chanakya but someone with special powers, one who holds a key to Brahmastra, a man blessed to meet five of the eight Chiranjivis. He is none other than Rudra a close companion and confidante of Chandragupta Maurya and a dear disciple of Chanakya.
Rudra’s journey from infancy to his untimely death at thirty is filled with adventure. While his mystic powers make him the most powerful man in the empire, they also tend to be the source of his agony given that Chandragupta Maurya’s Greek wife Helen feels jealous and insecure of his close bonds with her husband. What follows is a tale of treachery and deceit.
There are twists and turns, some expected and some unexpected but what held my interest is the mystery shrouding Rudra, his mission and the eight keys or eight commandoes who hold the keys to eight shastras (sciences). What is their mission? Do they accomplish it? If so, how? To get the answers to these one must read this book which I must stress is a piece of historical ficion and not history.
CHARACTERIZATION: The characters of Rudra and Helen are well- developed. While Rudra comes across as a true warrior, a man of his words and duty bound, Helen comes across as a vile one, expert in the art of treachery and one jealous to the core.
However I feel that the characters of Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya leave room for improvement. They somehow seem sidelined. A little more effort on their character and their role in the story would have added value to the book.
LANGUAGE : Simple and easy to understand. There are no jargon that act as stumbling blocks nor long winding sentences to trip upon.
PACE: Slow at first but gradually picks up and when it does, one can’t help spending more time with the book.
NARRATIVE: This is where I felt there is still a lot of scope for improvement. The opening sentences in nearly all the chapters put me off. I wish they were constructed differently. It would have made the transition from one chapter to another smooth and enjoyable.
An engaging read, I’ll rate the book 3 on a scale of 5.