Now I am a mythology guy, I like reading it a lot and my standards are that of “Ashok Banker” the master of mythology. So when I picked up this book I wasn’t sure how yet another mythology book in the market will turn out to be (I have dared not to pick so many other floating which deals in this genre for the fear of them not meeting the standards). Although one thing that I am pretty happy about is that Indian mythology is in vogue. We have millions of brilliant tales to tell to the world and each story leaves us with some or the other lesson in life.
As soon as I started with the book the first few pages itself impressed me a lot and I was excited in the anticipation of what all the book has in store for me.
Let me first and foremost congratulate the author Anuja Chandramouli on this remarkable writing. Bravo!! Retelling an epic is a herculean task and when that epic is Mahabharata it’s all the more difficult. Every Indian has heard or read about stories of Mahabharata and we all have some preconceived notions whenever the tales of Mahabharata are retold. To balance it out and present the facts as it is, is a very big task much bigger than any Da Vinci code.
The author has based the book on a very sound research and makes the book so easy to read. Whatever praises I heap on the author would not be enough considering that it is her debut novel. I can just wonder what she will produce in future.
Now back to the book, as I mentioned the book is very well written and as simple as it can be made. The story is essentially of Mahabharata and except for a few incidences I found nothing new in the story and unfortunately that is its undoing too.
When I first read the title of the book and saw the cover (good work their too) I was under the impression that it would primarily be Arjuna’s story or Mahabharata from Arjuna’s perspective but unfortunately it is not so. It is Mahabharata retold and there are very few stories about Arjuna that are new (or new to me at least). The latter half of the book talks so much about Krishna that it sometimes appear that the book is about Krishna. Similar problems figure at different places within the book and many times you would wonder where is Arjuna in all this?
Now this is where experience in writing novel comes in to play, which the author doesn’t have. How to break the story and what to focus on and what to leave are very important traits in an author. Now we all know that there are millions of stories in the Mahabharata and each character in itself can be written about in at least one book. A character like Krishna will require many volumes and still justice can’t be done.
The author tried to include a little bit of everyone’s story and that is where it all went wrong. I didn’t want to read Mahabharata again, I wanted to read about Arjuna- the greatest warrior the world has ever produced, his personality, his traits, his rights, his wrongs that are yet unknown.
And though the writing is technically very good and the book reads very easy, the author fails to stir emotions for the protagonist in reader’s heart and mind. I didn’t feel anything for Arjuna, no sorrow, no happiness, nothing at all. It fails for a reader like me. You as an author need to make me feel it, make me happy, sad, laugh with the characters.
But yes I am not taking away any credit for retelling the Mahabharata in such a simple way and to concise it in 350 odd pages. For a reader who has no or little knowledge about Mahabharata, ARJUNA Saga Of A Pandava Warrior-Prince: 1 is an excellent book. And I will definitely look forward to the author’s future books.