In a gist, the book is a historical/political thriller, set in two eras, one 2300 years ago, and one in the 20th century. The protagonist in the story from the past is the very famous Chanakya, the political adviser to Chandragupta who made the concept of United Bharat possible. In the 20th century, we have Gangasagar, a simple, but equally shrewd and intelligent Brahmin, who takes it upon himself to bring a person of his choice to lead the country.
As always, starting with the good bit.
The book is fast, which I believe is a must for any piece of fiction, which calls itself a thriller. There is no point where it lingers around a particular character or event for too long.The narration, I thought was awesome. I love the fact that book oscillates between the past and present and does so seamlessly. Though I am not good at drawing parallels, I think the author managed to have good consistency between the two stories at all points of times.
When you are looking at a famous character in history, and writing his story, you’ve got to get your homework done. The facts were well researched, and that made the story more authentic and believable. For someone who has very less knowledge and interest in anything to do with politics and politicians, aka me, I think the book has been written in a way, that held my attention throughout. That was a huge plus. The characters, I thought were etched very believably. Like I mentioned, though I do not have the slightest clue about politics, and there were times when the main characters in the story did things that made me cringe, it all sounded possible. If anything, it made me look at politics, and what goes behind it, in a whole new light.
The book is peppered with some very relevant quotes, which make the conversations and context easier to understand and more interesting. The author credits in the end of the book, the source of all these quotes, which have been adapted very well throughout the story.
That being said, there were times I felt that the war strategies in the past, and the political strategies in the present were way too descriptive. Again, it might have to do with the fact that I have never read a book on such a subject before, and for one who has, these might be perennial elements of the story. But considering that I was looking at the book as a fast paced thriller, the numerous references to plans and alliances at times made the book a heavy read.
Also, the number of side characters that come and go throughout the story. I guess it’s a given, considering the stories span over the life of Chanakya and Gangasagar, and that makes it a long time, but again, there were times I felt I was losing track of who was who.
Lastly, perhaps this was just a personal expectation, but I expected some sort of dramatic parallel to be drawn at least in the end of the story, but that might be just that bit of me which needs some drama at all times!
In all, the fact that I could finish the book in 10 days during month close at work, says a lot about it. I like writings by Indian authors, and also those with a historical track, and this one did justice to expectations. If the whole idea of history meets politics excites you, this should be picked up!