It has been a long time since I have read a mythological fiction and I miss those days when I used to receive the books in the same genre just after Amish’s Shiva trilogy garnered indefinite success. Now people have moved to other topics again and whichever book comes out under this genre tastes like a half-baked cake. I picked up a book whose cover page attracted me towards it on this Sunday and finished the book by today within a day. The book is “Ashwatthama’s Redemption: The Rise Of Dandak” written by the debutante author, Gunjan Porwal. I must say that I haven’t read more captivating and emotionally-submerging book this year.
Let’s start with the subject on which the book has been written. It is more about what happened after the epic war of Mahabharata and it discusses the character of Ashwatthama briefly and tells every detail about his past and involvement in the mentioned war. He is already living in guilt of doing some bad karma during the war time but now there is a new challenge thrown upon him where he must fight the super-devils with extra power. He comes to know about a bow which if he gets, he would be able to defeat these super-powers and there starts the whole foundation and basis of this book.
The first half is very superb where the characters and their background is introduced. Each and every character is so nicely described that you can relate with them immediately. All the kings discussed in the book, majorly, Rana and Vikram, are very nicely handled throughout the book keeping their dignity in dialogues and conversation intact. Their chemistry with our protagonist is also very beautifully handled. The love angle between Urmila and Rana is also respectfully portrayed. The second half is more about the actions involved and has many such sections where you must play with your imaginations and relive every moment discussed in the story. The anti-climax and climax are beautifully closed out which also gives hope of the sequel and I must say which I very rarely feel, that I am wanting to read the 2nd part as soon as possible.
The mythological and fictional mixture is very perfectly handled by the author which does not insult one of our epic books, Mahabharata. Author has discussed Mahabharata in various parts as a conversation and through it, also tried to explain many spiritual and human concepts like karma, life, death, guilt, ego, mind games etc. Every instance of Lord Krishna is worth reading and re-reading in this book. Even the mention of Ramayana comes in between which is also interesting to read and how the karma of people in both the stories are connected due to being Avataras of the same God is an intriguing read altogether. Best part for which I would remember this book is whenever the Mahabharata is dictated in a conversation to any of the characters.
Talking about the drawbacks, I just felt that there was certain characteristics of each character being discussed initially but author could not do justice to everything that he mentioned about them. Except this, I believe this book is a must read for sure. I give it 4.5* out of 5. Recommended like anything.
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