Saturday, November 16, 2013

#BookReview: Gods, Kings & Slaves: The Siege of Madurai by R. Venketesh

On the jacket:

War is coming... An ancient kingdom will meet a devastating new enemy. 

Peninsular India, fourteenth century. The Pandyan empire is at its peak, its enemies subdued and its people at peace. Having left behind his step-brother Sundar in the race to the throne, Crown Prince Veera Pandyan is set to rule from Madurai, reputed to be the richest city in the subcontinent. But invisible fractures within the kingdom threaten to destroy it, and a new enemy approaches, swifter than anyone can imagine.

In Delhi, Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s trusted general, the eunuch Malik Kafur, has trained his eyes on the distant south, fabled for its riches. A slave captured by the Khiljis, Kafur is renowned for his ambition and cunning. None, not even the mighty Mongols, have defeated him – no empire can withstand the trail of destruction he leaves in his wake. And all he wants is to see Madurai on its knees, its wealth pillaged, its temples destroyed.

As an ancient city combusts in flames of treachery, bloodlust and revenge, brother will battle brother, ambition will triumph over love, slaves will rise to rule, cities will be razed to dust, and the victor will be immortalized in history...


I have been reading quite a few books on Indian mythology and history of late, and each one stuns me more than the one I read before it. This is a genre I have started reading recently, and, I am amazed at the scope it has. Gods, Kings & Slaves: The Siege of Madurai is a well-researched, delicately planned plot about the siege of the city of Madurai.

Characters I have not read about, are introduced in this book and for someone who has always found history fascinating, this is a treasure trove. Khilji's general Kafur has his eyes on a kingdom in the south. Cunning that he was, Kafur was ambitious as well. Venkatesh, in his book, helps us understand Kafur better. The book is not something you breeze through, but take slow bites into the pages, reading a bit and recollecting a bit from own memory. It's like wine, you don't just gulp it down your throat. 

A tale of love, lust, ambition, revenge, fallen brotherhood and treachery - Gods, Kings & Slaves is a must read if you are a lover of history, or if Indian history fascinates you even a little bit. It's also a good book, if you want to venture into this genre of books. Very well-scripted, smooth language and good editing, this is a book to keep.

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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