Monday, October 29, 2018

Book Review "Ashwatthama’s Redemption – The Rise of Dandak" by Gunjan Porwal

It’s been a long time I’ve come across a book that lives up to the expectations of its cover. A ready-to-war Ashwatthama decked in front, resembling Krishna and a colophon that briefs his past and role in the story; the tone was set to be an engaging treat and I wasn’t disappointed.


Book Blurb
Over a hundred years after the Mahabharata War, an ancient power threatens to destroy the new Age of Men, by establishing the Age of Terror of the asuras, long believed to be extinct. the only hurdle in its path is Guru Dronacharya’s son, the mighty but accursed warrior Ashwatthama, who lost all his powers following Lord Krishna’s curse and who unwittingly finds himself drawn into the quest of the lost bow of Lord Rama, the Kodanda. As ghosts of the distant past return to haunt him and the line between friends and enemies blurs, Ashwatthama must fight his inner demons to emerge victorious. He undertakes a perilous journey—across the vast plains of the Ganges, to the snow-capped peaks of the Himavant where the price of failure is a fate worse than death and death is a privilege not granted to Ashwatthama.
Is this all part of Lord Krishna’s great plan? Will Ashwatthama be able to regain his lost glory?
“Ashwatthama’s Redemption” takes place more than a hundred years after the events of Mahabharata Kurukshetra war. A cursed but super powerful demon king Dandak and his wreaking havoc army are on the verge of resurrection. Sudden deaths and suspicious omens force King Vikram and Prince Rana to seek the aid of Ashwatthama and set out on a perilous journey to obtain Lord Rama’s long lost bow “Kodanda” which is powerful enough to stop him.

If there exists perfection in writing a fiction based on Indian historical epics, it’s this book. Gunjan Porwal preserves the details of Kurukshetra war along with the essence of its original characters. The way historical accuracy is maintained throughout the plot and taking creative liberty only when its required is fantastic. Be it the action sequences or the scenic journeys or even the old tales, the author delivers more with the use of a few words.

Whilst the original Mahabharata is written in second person perspective, this novel is written in third person narrative. Ashwatthama as the protagonist on the path of recovery is shown perfectly. With most of the severity of his curse diluted, his struggles to regain his warrior status, his remorse for actions of his past, his vigilance in battles with the supernatural are shown perfectly. There is huge potential in characters of Vikram and Rana, but for now, they end up as support cast. The light love story between Urmila and Rana sometimes misbalances an otherwise well set pace of the story. Raktavija and Vidyut don’t feel that intimidating as villains should, but nevertheless they have their moments.  Dandak feels like Lord Voldemort; everyone fears him and dreads his resurrection. I have a feeling there is more to his character and hope it levels the persona of Ashwatthama.

Personally, I loved the use of original Shlokas from Mahabharta. Not many can detail the true greyness that every character in the original epic had, but the author does it with ease. Janmejaya as a character could had been explored more and given more time in the plot.

In all, Gunjan Porwal delivers a true engaging masterpiece that keeps us gripped throughout the book and makes us eager to await the well deserved sequel.

My overall rating for this enjoyable masterpiece would be 4.5/5

Overall Verdict:- A superb read

The book can be found at Amazon and Flipkart
Reviews from other readers can be found at GoodReads
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