Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Gods Kings and Slaves by R.Venketesh

There were glorious days in Indian history when coffers overflew with wealth and kingdoms were at peace. But there was a silent storm brewing in Delhi and Madurai where there were rifts and conflicts within and ambitions and reputations were at stake. Author R.Venketesh in his book "Gods Kings & Slaves" takes history to a new and an unconquered level when two mighty powerhouses of India rode their destiny and only one could come out unscathed. So what new touch the author has given to the already glorifying tale? Let's find out.   

War is coming... An ancient kingdom will meet a devastating new enemy.
Peninsular India, fourteenth century. The Pandyan empire is at its peak, its enemies subdued and its people at peace. Having left behind his step-brother Sundar in the race to the throne, Crown Prince Veera Pandyan is set to rule from Madurai, reputed to be the richest city in the subcontinent. But invisible fractures within the kingdom threaten to destroy it, and a new enemy approaches, swifter than anyone can imagine.
In Delhi, Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s trusted general, the eunuch Malik Kafur, has trained his eyes on the distant south, fabled for its riches. A slave captured by the Khiljis, Kafur is renowned for his ambition and cunning. None, not even the mighty Mongols, have defeated him – no empire can withstand the trail of destruction he leaves in his wake. And all he wants is to see Madurai on its knees, its wealth pillaged, its temples destroyed.
As an ancient city combust in flames of treachery, blood, lust and revenge, brother will battle brother, ambition will triumph over love, slaves will rise to rule, cities will be razed to dust, and the victor will be immortalized in history..

First look at the title and the cover and there's glory written all over it. Along with it comes massacre and brutality. The cover is a picture perfect idea and the title complements it well. The blurb takes about the Pandyan Empire and Malik Kafur in tandem. The blurb should have been kept short and sans tag line. 

The story is set in Southern India when it was ruled by the powerful Pandyans but the greed of the throne mars it's two brothers. Politics, jealousy, coup and the whim to stop at nothing threatens it's existence from inside. There's rise of Khiljis in Delhi but their meticulous rise is the brainchild of Malik Kafur. So what will happen when two mighty powers will collide? How are their fates entwined? What will become of Madurai and who  will be the real victor and glorified for the generations to come? That's what the story is all about. 

The journey from Delhi to Madurai is a thorny one and the author has left no stone unturned to make it more defining and brutalizing. The power play, the struggle to rise, the meteoric rise to the throne, the pomp of kingdoms and not to forget the individual destinies which will bear the flag and witness it all is an uncanny remark on the judgment of the people of that time. It manages to capture the entire scenario with ease and succumbs to nothing. The dictating tone and the mellowed speck to it leaves the readers in daze. 

The only downside of the book is it's hurried finish and not able to give Malik Kafur a befitting finish. It could have been easily extended and readers could have been enlightened more about the aftermath of Khilji dynasty when Kafur rose to the throne. 

It's a heart stopping affair as every page bears a seal as to what everybody went through when gods kings and slaves they all were in power together. It's a cumulative affair and the book manages to give equal importance to all. There is no mistaking that it was not for one but it was for all. A grand affair with an apt storyline. 


4 OUT OF 5

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