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.