Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: Kaurava (The Aryavarta Chronicles, #2) by Krishna Udayasankar

On the jacket: 

Nothing left to fight for is nothing left to lose...

Emperor Dharma Yudhisthir of the Kauravas and Empress Panchali Draupadi rule over the unified realm of Aryavarta, an empire built for them by Govinda Shauri with the blessings of the Firstborn and by the might of those whom everyone believes long gone - the Firewrights.

Now the Firewrights rise from the ashes of the past, divided as before in purpose and allegiance - those who wish to use the knowledge of their ancestors for the greater good of the new empire and those determined to avenge the annihilation of their kin. Sinister plans are afoot, and no one, it seems, can stand in the way of the chaos about to be unleashed - not the Firstborn, not the kings of Aryavarta, and not Govinda Shauri. 

As a plot to destroy Govinda's beloved city Dwarka takes an unexpected turn, and Dharma Yudhisthir gambles away his empire, the tormented empress is forced into a terrifying exile and Aryavarta teeters once again on the brink of destruction.

Condemned by his own failures, Govinda is left a broken man. The only way he can save Aryavarta and the woman in whose trusted hands he had left it is by playing a dangerous game: He must betray a terrible secret that the Vyasa has protected all his life. A secret that may well destroy the Firstborn, and the Firewrights with them.


A sequel to the bestseller Govinda,in Kaurava the author has rewritten Mahabharata. Alongside a new take on the mythology, what is interesting is a backdrop of another story, a fight between First borns (Order of Vasishta) and Firewrights (Order of Angirasa). Kaurava begins where Govinda ended, with conspiracies brewing to bring down Dwarka as well as Indrprastha.

This tussle had begun in Govinda and is continuing in Kaurava. The main characters still is Govinda Shauri and many new characters like Duryoddhan (Syoddhan), Dussasan, Vidura, Asvattama, Jayadrath, Vasusena, Shikandi, Dhrishtadyumna, Dharma Yudhisthir, Bhim, Arjun (Partha) and Panchali join in. In her version of the Mahabharata, the author has rearranged the events and presented them in a more believable manner (eg) the part were Yudhishtir plays the game of dice with Duryodhan - he was not fooled or forced into playing it, but he played because he was a compulsive gambler. More believable right? A compulsive gambler will not stop at anything, like Yudhisthir didn't wince to higher the stakes to even making his wife a pawn.

Every character is described in depth and make so much more sense, their flaws and their strengths all put in front of the reader to assess. If you love mythology, you simply cannot give this series a miss. And if you haven't read much of Hindu mythology, here is a good and entertaining source to start from. 

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Hachette India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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