09 August, 2017

#BookReview :: The Mauryan: The Legend of Ashoka by Komal Bhanver

Can Ashoka conquer his enemies or will his own demons get the better of him?

Known in far reaches of the world as a great conqueror, King Bindusara rules over much of India with an iron fist. When a Brahmin prophesies that his wife, the beautiful Subhadragi, will birth a legendary ruler, Bindusara is ecstatic. But when the child is born a frail, ordinary-looking boy, the emperor, filled with disappointment and disgust, leaves him to his mother and turns all attention to grooming Susima, his eldest son, as heir to the Mauryan throne. 

Shunned by his father, and bullied and humiliated by Susima, Ashoka learns from a very early age to be the master of his own fate. Under the determined tutelage of his mother and in the company of a few loyal companions, he begins to challenge Susima at every step. When he meets a beautiful and spirited young woman who teaches him the true meaning of courage and changes him forever, he begins to dream of ruling the vast empire.

But kaal has other plans for him, for his ambition and steady rise are being noted by those who want to end the threat to Susima's succession once and for all.

Will Ashoka allow the obstacles in the path of his destiny to overwhelm him, or can he rise above them to become the greatest emperor who ever lived?

Prophesied to be a legendary ruler, Ashoka disappoints his father Bindusara by being born delicate and ordinary. As Bindusara, shuns him and begins to favour Susima as his successor, rivalry and competition builds up between the two boys. The story focuses on how Ashoka deals with the hand thrown at him by life and how he aspires to overcome everything that stands in his way of becoming a true ruler.

The book has a slow start as it sets up the world for its readers. As this this the first instalment in the series, it is almost expected and as such did not bother me much. It is almost halfway through that the plot starts to pick up and things start to boil down. Once that happens the book turns out to be quite interesting. The various characters depicted in the plot are mostly developed up to the scratch, though I imagine there is much more awaiting to happen to the characters of Ashoka and Susima in the coming books.

What I wanted from this book was a better pace and a tighter narrative. The plot has immense potential as Ashoka is indeed an intriguing character. While some aspects of the world setting have been handled in detail – almost repetitive, some aspects were underdeveloped and undermined. 

To round it up, I would still say that the series has some potential. This being the author’s debut, it is quite good and there is still scope of her improving over time.

Review Copy received from Hachette India

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