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03 January, 2018

#BookReview :: Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer


Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?

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What attracted me to this book was the protagonist. Despite the fact that there are numerous retellings of mythological characters and their journeys, Saiswaroopa Iyer has managed to bring a freshness by reimagining ‘Vishpala’ from the Rig Veda. The book promises to tell us about a lesser known character who is the epitome of a female warrior – so obviously, I had to read it.

Avishi’s story has a dramatic start with her being rescued from a certain death. She is then brought to Naimisha where her talents and potential is recognized and she is trained accordingly. While Avishi remained in the custody of the Rishi’s, she prepared for her destiny which would finally take her back to her roots. But her journey is riddled with hurdles which she must overcome in order to prosper. Is she up to the challenges that will be thrown her way?

First thing that I loved about the book was its protagonist. Avishi is strong and independent. Her courage and will really impressed me as did her thought process and ability to predict her opponent’s movements. The second thing that I loved about the book was its setting. It is set in an era where gender equality is a way of life and people are free to make their own choices without being restricted by their birth status. It is a world that I would have loved to have been born in and one that I wish for the future generations. Having read the author’s debut novel Abhaya, I can see a certain growth in the author in terms of narration style. Some people may find it a bit difficult to get into at first. But the effort put into the first few chapters will certainly pay off as the book then progresses in a steady pace and the plot too contributes in keeping the readers engaged. Also, the amount of research and imagination that has gone into this book must be applauded. 

Overall, the book makes for an exciting read.


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