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Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review : 'Kaurava' by Krishna Udayasankar


Kaurava... the second part of the Aryavarta Chronicles is not just any book. I've read a lot of books that are parts of series, which could easily be understood, (at least a little bit, if not all) but not Kaurava. It is a true sequel because it refuses to be understood without having read the earlier part of the series. And so it begins...

Firstly, I felt that if Govinda was heading the first part, this one was if not in whole, led by Panchali. From the weapon wielding heroine in the first part to the calculative diplomat in the second half you are pretty much on her side in this book. She isn’t the only one with more of new shade. Everybody has one...

I was starting to think that the five roles of the brothers have melted into that of the ultimate Pandava. Whether this Pandava would come through remains to see in the third book. 

In fact, there is an additional development to all the characters. Dharma Yudishthir Kauravya who is the anti - hero of this part, comes out with a whole new self. There is the man, who is trying really hard to be an emperor what with the arguments which go on between him and his wife. Then there is the dice wielding gambler, who throws away not just the kingdom, but his brothers and even his wife.

You almost cringe at the disgusting behaviour which, Yudishthir feels that he has to go through during Dusshasan’s lewd behaviour. You are half wishing for Govinda’s entry into the playing field. But it was not to be. (Kinda intriguing that Draupadi’s sexual harassment is described  with so much detail when we hear stories of a horrible time in the world, when women are subjected to sexual harassment every other day).

One is almost left spellbound with Udayasankar’s excellent portrayals of Sanjaya, Vidura, Shikandin, Asvattama, Dhrstyadymn, and Abhimanhyu that are rich and vivid. The imagery that she manages to paint in your head could leave you with a cringe, a wonder and a beauty that is the chronicles. 

You find Govinda going to Greece, with a whole new set of intense pictures that are drawn through various characters. You then are shown the elaborate descriptions of science during the making of weapons, the coming together of the Pandavas, Panchali's brothers, and Govinda and Abhimanyu in Matsya. 

The love fable of Panchali and Govinda, Vasusena’s wicked angle which comes through, as well as Syoddhan’s excellent handling of the Aryavarta region. None of the characters really come out looking as a true hero in this episode. 

I only felt that the battle descriptions could have done with a backstory to pull it together.  Also, its drawback seems to be the mistakes in the text.

In all, I am looking forward to Kurukshetra, because this book has left me feeling with a certain need for closure. It has left me on a path…

PS: A little less of text on the cover, because it seems to distract the reader’s eye.
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