These are the stories one can never get tired of. Each of us have grown up listening, watching and reading stories of Mahabharata. The past, often glorius, often bloody. The politics, rooted in each individual. Virtues and bravado. Mahabharata has it all. No matter how many times its retold, it doesn't lose its charm. Here, Krishna Udaysankar comes with her own version of the epic. Third book in The Aryavarta Chronicles series - Kurukshetra tells the tale that starts on the brink of the greatest war ever fought. On the red soil of battlefields of Kurukshetra, who and what led the forces to victory, who played invisible role in making Aryavarta a dream come true.
Actually, this is my first in the trilogy. Earlier I had seen and thought of reading first two books in this series. But somehow couldn't get my hands on untill this one offered by Blogadda. (Add to this, I never mind reading a series of books, starting backwards. Even LOTR was the book, which I read final episode first, then the other two ;)). Despite the fact I was reading last chapter in the tale, It didn't feel like one. Though it took some pages to get accustomed to the writer's style. Because, she doesn't spoon feed the facts and makes you want to think the scenario from the other angles as well.
Kurukshetra - starts off with those meetings in the background. The happenings around the states of Hastina and Matsya. How the war is being set up with role of Govinda in it. Gathering forces and supoort from other states which initially were supportive to Hastina and Syoddhan. But how Govinda rolls his dice and gets them in Dharma's stride. Interesting politics and alliances happens. While on the other hands, we get to see how lives of unsung heroes like Shikandin, Dhrustadhymn, Hidimbya and the second generation of many kings comes into light.
Writing style of Krishna is interesting. She doesn't reveal the ongoings in traditional way. But with less dialogues, more emphasis on the strategic actions. For a first timer like me, it took really a good time to get familiar with it. The complexity is notable and it actually gets you abosorbed in it. Interestingly, the story emphasize on portraying all the 'magic' and 'miracle' with background of science. So there, you do have reason behind the famous eclipse, reason behind the magical 'astras'. Even, Shikhandin here, is not a character with feminine qualities. Instead, he is a great warrior infusing great strength among the soldiers. Even biggest names like Dron and Syoddhan takes him very seriously. Another character, Abhimanyu, gets a deserving spotlight here. From his role to pre-war strategic alliance, to his role as a lover. The writer innovatively tells the tale which we don't hear much in any other version. Even, we get to see Ashwattama in action like anyone else. Being a complex character, he gets humble attention in the story. Most of the part is dedicated to 18 days long battle (obviously) and the writer paints the red picture perfectly with her words. Things go really interesting towards the climax and ends fabulously.
Though I won't say its an absolutely perfect rendition I have ever read. Sometimes the detailed paragraphs and monologues make it difficult to cop up with. Also, the name changes here - Duryodhan, Karna, Yudhistir, Arjun, Krishna - all are here with their other names. Agree there must be a back story / reason for this in past books. But somehow we are accustomed to read only those names, and that confuses in opening parts.
Those minor complaints apart, Kurukshetra does live up the tagline it bears - The epic as it was never told before. Highly recommended to everyone, for the style, for the angle the epic is projected here.
And Doyle didn't disappoint me as I expected it to be an engaging affair. After a mysterious prologue, the story starts with an excavation site at Greece. Continuing the team from previous adventure, Vijay, Radha, Alice, Colin and Imran gets tangled in yet another secret. A secret they couldn't think can be connected in this way. A secret that has twists and revelations. (Though I have the previous book lying on my shelf, I don't think reading this book directly will harm. Nothing connected between the two except some sentences referencing to previous book).
The research of Doyle shows at many parts of the book. Despite of being a fiction, it holds a lot of authentic and honest amount of writing that makes you awestruck. The route of Alexander during his march towards Indus, the ongoings in Greek politics and even the detailed description of viruses, bacterias, organisms and even DNA and RNA. So authentic it is and not written just for the sake of it. Though the fact is, the medical description made me lose the attention, distracting from the flow of the story, of course it was needed to be there.
As mythological-fiction is becoming one of my favorite genre by the time, this one is definitely has that intriguing plot. Making you think what lies ahead for the team. For reserved Vijay, for courageous Radha and supportive Alice and Colin. Making you curious about how the riddles get solved one by one. The writing style of Doyle is compelling. It holds your attention most of the time without deviating to silly details, dialogues or monologues. And again, I would like to mention, the research and timing how each chapter from past is placed. Right incident at right time. No 'flashback' kinda chapter for events of past, and not even overdone now-and-then pieces of past. Just perfect balance. And by the time you reach towards climax, you yourself get into search mode. I actually started Google-ing things which one of the character did in the story. The unusual backdrop for the climax adds more effectiveness.
All in all, this is a really commendable effort by author Christopher C Doyle. The Mahabharata Quest needs to be read for the stunning amount of research went into it. Smooth connecting links between Greek and Indian myths. And the thrills ! Go for it.
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'www.MarryAghost.com' by Abhimanyu Jha is an interesting account of life of Veeru. A techie who runs failed startup and does freelancing along with his buddy. One day, they challenge each other and things end up as a matchmaking website for ghosts ! Yes, ghosts. To his surprise, the site has its first registration as well and that too by a ghost who is looking for her love that will help her find oblivion ! Add to this, a mysterious lady in her fifties, professor at a college, who can see and talk to ghosts.
Proceedings go quite interesting way as the quest begins as Veeru and Maahi goes in search of the guy. From funny to mushy. Even, mysterious at places. The story proceeds pretty fast and that is actually a good thing for a story of this genre. Lead character Veeru is someone you may love to fall in love with. The way Jha describes him, the carefree young lad falling in love with Maahi-the ghost. And Maahi, the lovely lady - whose search for her lover forms crux of the story - is equally an interesting character.
The angle of mystery attached with the storyline keeps you glued to it. How the dream of Maahi is decoded, how Maahi meets a mysterious character which leads to more questions. And above all these, the lady in question. Professor lady. All of this creates interesting mix for this search. Equally, the lovelorn character of Maahi makes you want to believe her pain. Though Maahi and Veeru's conversations are occasionally fun and occasionally endearing. Still, I felt there is something missing there. Something, that could have been better. Sometimes the attachment of the two, seems fragile, because of the peppy things maybe? Or, the writer has done so for a purpose?
Another thing I wasn't much comfortable with, is the style of monologue'ish story telling. Turn by turn we get to hear encounters with the eyes of Veeru and Maahi. To certain level, its well done. But sometimes, the scenes get recreated when another character tells it from their angle. It seems duplicated and overtly long. Similarly, the tale of Marquis' flashback, gets into too much detail, almost irritating. Again, is that done for a purpose? Who knows.
Given all those grudges,I would say this one is really an interesting tale. Dashed with one of my favorite genre (ghosts !!) Abhimanyu creates a really interesting storyline that keeps you glued and wanting to know what will happen next. Why the things happen this way with Maahi and who is the professor. Occasionally fun moments add relief to serious on-goings. And without being too literary mushy, you can feel the love. Love of Maahi and Veeru.
I would recommend this to lover of both genres. Romantic and Horror. Not actually a 'horror' story is this, but it charmingly merges both worlds together.