26 August, 2015

#BookReview :: Rise of Kali - Duryodhana's Mahabharata (Epic of the Kaurava Clan #2) by Anand Neelakantan

The mahabharata endures as the great epic of india. While jaya is the story Of the pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of kurukshetra, ajaya is the tale of the Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man. From the pen of the author who gave voice to Ravana in the national bestseller, asura, comes the riveting narrative which compels us to question The truth behind the mahabharata. As the Pandavas stake their claim to the Hastinapura throne, the Kaurava Crown Prince, Suyodhana, rises to challenge Krishna. As great minds debate dharma and adharma, power hungry men prepare for an apocalyptic war. The women, highborn and humble, helplessly watch the unfolding disaster with deep foreboding. And greedy merchants and unscrupulous priests lie in wait like vultures. Both sides know that beyond the agony and carnage the winner will take all. But even as gods conspire and men’s destinies unfold, a far greater truth awaits. The dark age of kali is rising and every man and woman must choose between duty And conscience, honour and shame, life and death…

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Check out my Interview with Anand Neelakantan

I have said it before, and I will say it again. It is always a refreshing experience to read Anand Neelakantan’s books. I have been waiting for this book for around 8 months now and the author has made this book worth the wait.

The second instalment starts with Draupadi being summoned after the Pandavas have lost her in a game of dice. Right from the first chapter the story continues its ‘tandav’ throughout the book. Do not misunderstand me when I say ‘tandav’ I mean it as a compliment. It is indeed havoc that is created through mere words on pages when Anand writes them. He forces people to acknowledge that there are always two sides to a coin. From the beginning of Roll of Dice, the author ensured that we let go of all that we think we know about Mahabharata and start afresh to see the side of the story that no one tells – the story of the Kauravas.

While the stage was set and things started taking off in the first instalment, ‘Rise of Kali’ gives us an in-depth look into all the characters that play a role. Two people particularly stood out for me. One of them was Karna – while he did stand out in the original version with his diligence and loyalty, here we get to see everything that he had gone through. After reading his whole story, his loyalty to Duryodhana and his resilience takes on a new level. I admired Karna like no other in the story. The other was that of Balarama. While Krishna is widely known for his role in the Mahabharata, Balarama felt more humane and admirable in this version. Also, getting a look into Yuyutsu, the only surviving Kaurava was an added attraction in the book.

The author maintains his comprehensive style of narration for most part. I personally felt that there could be more to the ending, but then I am someone who is always looking for more in a book. The language continues to be striking, complementing the author’s unique perspective on every character and relationship. It was interesting, engaging and entertaining.

Review Copy received through Booksense

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