Saturday, December 28, 2013

#BookReview : Ajaya: Roll of the Dice (Epic of the Kaurava clan, #1) by Anand Neelakantan

On the jacket:

THE MAHABHARATA ENDURES AS THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA. But while Jaya is the story of the Pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of Kurukshetra; Ajaya is the narrative of the ‘unconquerable’ Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man.  

At the heart of India’s most powerful empire, a revolution is brewing. Bhishma, the noble patriarch of Hastinapura, is struggling to maintain the unity of his empire. On the throne sits Dhritarashtra, the blind King, and his foreign-born Queen – Gandhari. In the shadow of the throne stands Kunti, the Dowager-Queen, burning with ambition to see her firstborn become the ruler, acknowledged by all. And in the wings: * Parashurama, the enigmatic Guru of the powerful Southern Confederate, bides his time to take over and impose his will from mountains to ocean.  * Ekalavya, a young Nishada, yearns to break free of caste restrictions and become a warrior. * Karna, son of a humble charioteer, travels to the South to study under the foremost Guru of the day and become the greatest archer in the land.  * Balarama, the charismatic leader of the Yadavas, dreams of building the perfect city by the sea and seeing his people prosperous and proud once more.  * Takshaka, guerilla leader of the Nagas, foments a revolution by the downtrodden as he lies in wait in the jungles of India, where survival is the only dharma. * Jara, the beggar, and his blind dog Dharma, walk the dusty streets of India, witness to people and events far greater than they, as the Pandavas and the Kauravas confront their searing destinies.  Amidst the chaos, Prince Suyodhana, heir of Hastinapura, stands tall, determined to claim his birthright and act according to his conscience. He is the maker of his own destiny – or so he believes. While in the corridors of the Hastinapura palace, a foreign Prince plots to destroy India. And the dice falls…


I had loved, Asura when I had read it, albeit much later than a lot of people. History is not very easy to write about, or re-write, with a fresh perspective. Neelakantan had taken a villain and put him in a fresh light for us, made him lovable and relate-able. In Ajaya, personally, I felt that Neelakantan has outdone himself. This time his muse is Duryodhan. 

The book begins with Bhishma and how his actions based on his beliefs, actually proved wrong for others. It all began when he almost forced Gandhari to be wed to blind Dhritarashtra. We have read about how righteous the Pandavas and Kunti were, but Neelakantan has spun his web on a different spine. Questions like why was Karna treated the way he was, why did he have to keep proving himself, why was Eklavya insulted, why was Khandiva forest destroyed. 

This book is about Duryodhana. Suyodhana, actually. What surprised me was, how Suyodhana and Subhadra had fallen in love, sadly it didn't work out. Ajaya is a book, once should read. Mainly because we have always read one version of the Mahabharata and a story is not complete, unless it's heard from all sides. I am waiting for the next book in the series, now.

Rating: ****.5/5

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

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