By Krishna Udayshankar. Grade: A+
War is upon the realm, but is Aryavarta prepared for what will follow? As a bitter struggle begins to gain control of the divided empire that was once Aryavarta, Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa of the Firstborn and the Secret Keeper of the Firewrights can only watch as their own blood, their kin, savage and kill on the fields of Kurukshetra. Restraint and reason have deserted the rulers who once protected the land and they manipulate, scheme and kill with abandon – for victory is all that matters. At the heart of the storm stands Govinda Shauri, driven by fickle allies and failed kings, to the very brink of darkness. Reforging the forsaken realm in the fire of his apocalyptic wrath, he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of them all for the sake of one last hope: that humanity will rise, that there will be revolution. The spectacular, entrancing final episode of The Aryavarta Chronicles recreates the world of the Mahabharata with formidable power and imagination.
Krishna Udayshankar wraps up her Aryavarta trilogy with a blast in this final book. Kurukshetra is impeccably crafted, with a heightened sense of action in writing leading to a grand and perfect finish of the Aryavarta Chronicles. There is so much awesome-ness in the 436 pages that you may feel it’s too much while starving for more but Udayshankar has a fine delicate balance with which she unwinds the story.
The story begins with the Kauravas and Pandavas preparing for war. The pawns are placed, flags furled, axes sharpened and bows stretched. And oh! yes, missiles loaded with nitrite. As evident from the very first book, the main characters in the series are not divine. They are mythical characters, but ordinary nevertheless. Udayshankar has stripped them of their magical powers. The story is written through a perspective that gives alternate retelling of Mahabharata while keeping its essence entact.
The outline may look predictable, and the reinterpretation of the epic may sound like old wine in Udayshankar’s bottle but many things are shown from a new perspective, like the relationship of Uttara and Abhimanyu, the duel between Bhim and Suyodhana, Abhimanyu’s struggle, Shikandi being victim of calumny by his ex-wife and the charm of Govinda. The story behind each plot is fascinating and narrated with absolute neutrality. All character’s are shown with their virtues and vices. Now tell me, isn’t it enough to make you froth with impatience to grab Kurukshetra? And Oh! The mystery of the secret fire-wright is revealed here.
Never mind if you skipped the first two books, you can still read it independently but it will be wise if you read the trilogy for the sake of ultimate form of literary ‘asskickery’.