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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Book Review: The Shadow Throne by Aroon Raman

This month from BlogAdda.com's Book Review Program is the novel 'The Shadow Throne' by Aroon Raman.
For a debut novel, I am pretty impressed by Aroon's work.
I liked the Shadow Throne but it is not without its faults. My first impression after reading the first 20-30 pages was "Oh No! Not Again" - I could straightaway see several similarity with the likes of Da Vinci Code and Krishna Key – the brutal murder at a famous landmark/monument, the mark/symbol left on the dead body (a vital clue to the murderer and his origins), the protagonist getting involved and then a lady coming into the fray and together they are on a run. The chase begins and the story unravels. ….
The Shadow Throne begins on familiar grounds (almost Déjà vu) but thankfully that's where the similarity ends. Instead of the story taking on a Dan Brown'ish route of mythology and symbology … the story become Robert Ludlum'ish.
The story meanders towards international espionage with spies, secret service intelligence agencies, internal politics within them and the uncertain loyalties of different characters. There are some shady characters in the story and you keep changing your opinion on which side their loyalties lie; often feeling that the protagonist is simply being manipulated by master minds to achieve their own objectives. 
I have read a lot of Ludlum and it was a welcome and pleasant change to read about Indo-Pak espionage and intelligence agencies.
Unlike the Dan Brown novels, the female lead does not go out on the adventure trip with the protagonist. She has her own track while playing a significant role in cracking the code.
The writing is good and offers an easy reading. The build-up of excitement is there throughout the novel. There are some nice twists and turns in the story. Aroon has tried to bring in the element of surprise and suspense by having some key events happening at chapter ends etc like Ludlum; has managed to do it in some ways but far from the Ludlum like shocks !!
Just like I found Krishna Key unconvincing and lacking in certain places in terms of storyline, plot, logic … I found some here too. The BIGGEST and most fatal error came right in the form a Dan Brown like coded message left by the murdered person. This gentleman left a message in his dying moment in a place where it could have gone unnoticed. The message was based on the typical book code (page number, line number, word number code) … BUT my question is, how does one create a coded message of this sort (page, line, word from a book) in the last (read dying) moments of life … without the book at hand. It is impossible. Without the book, such a coded message cannot be created and this was, according to me a fatal error by the author.
The protagonist, Chandra, got involved in a mission, not just by chance but by a design. What was completely unconvincing to me was the choice of Chandra for the mission. A flimsy logic is presented in the book but I stand unconvinced. A chance involvement in the thick of things would have been far more convincing and more effective.
There were a few other glaring errors but I guess I can let that pass in light of the better aspects of the book.
On the whole, I enjoyed reading the Shadow Throne and would definitely rate it better than the Krishna Key. It had a very interesting plot with almost reverse psychology being applied to Indo-Pak politics.
Off late I have noticed that the cover design of Indian novels is undergoing some interesting changes. Be it the Krishna Key or the Shadow Throne or some other novels that I have seen recently; I see computer graphic visual (with a dark shades, most of the time) and white / shining text in bold letters on the cover to create the contrast. 
Note: This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com  ... Participate now to get free books!

2 comments:

  1. Finished 'Shadow of Throne' in about 4 hours. The plot is to expose the conspiracy of nuclear Armageddon in South Asia by the RAW agents. It shocks me to write that the author is an Indian and he has depicted Pakistanis as Saints and Indian spies as devils. Very light read, good in case if you are travelling else a wastage of time. I strongly recommend against buying it.

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  2. Thanks for the comment ...

    Its Fiction and I think it was an interesting idea to show some Indian spies as Devils. I have read numerous novels and some movies too where I have seen American secret agents acting as villains for their interpretation of the greater good of the country.

    I think Aroon used a similar device and I think he pulled it off well ... giving you some startling piece of reading. It would have been boring to read once again about Pak villains and Indian heroes only ...

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