Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Review: The Great Mogul by Rajeev Jacob


Book: The Great Mogul

Author: Rajeev Jacob

No. of Pages: 222

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Lancer Book


The author wrote to me with the book review request and the setting of the story – 2 young scholars from UK (in current times) searching for the biggest diamond of the world, last heard of in eighteenth century India – seemed like an interesting one. I accepted.
Before accepting, I tried looking at the GoodReads page but there was none. So i created it when I finally started reading the book.

My reaction to the first chapter of the book was: “Did I make a mistake in accepting the review request. Will I be subjected to crude writing and unmentionables in this book?”

My biggest fear was that I would be forced to abandon the book if the writing style of the first chapter (hardly a few pages) continued through the rest of the book. Thankfully it did not. (Although, I still don’t understand why the author had to write the first chapter they way he did – he surely lost a 0.5 from the rating I am giving this book – solely because of that first chapter and similar language and references used in later chapters)

Anyway, the book started taking shape from the second chapter onwards and you begin your journey, both, in the 21st and in the 18th century with 2 different sets of characters. The book has a very interesting cast of characters and the author has done a decent job of connecting the reader to the main characters. The story moves at a steady pace and keeps the reader engaged.

I was somewhere expecting the parallel stories to connect; events happening in one story answering questions in the other etc but it did not really happen that way. The two stories ran in parallel with very little connection between them except for the basic few questions.

In fact, after reading the whole book, I really wondered if the story of the present tense was even required. The author could have simply written the historical fiction piece and kept it just that. It is not as if the current timeline story is on an exciting treasure hunt for the Great Mogul and those 2 young scholars are anywhere close to locating it.

While the story moves in 2 parallel tracks, an interesting device has been utilized by Rajeev Jacob – telling the events from different perspectives. The same event / situation being described in third person and then followed up by the first person narration by one or even two characters. I have a soft spot for this kind of a device and enjoy reading it. The author made good use of it although I was disappointed at times. In such a device, one has to be careful and bring out something different in each narration. You can’t just repeat the same things and bore your reader …

While I did not like the writing style of the first chapter (which appears in several other chapters too – especially those reflecting Bhaichand’s thoughts) … there is a certain ‘raw’ effect to it - unadulterated raw thoughts of a person from the lower sanctums of the society. I did not like it but I am sure there is certain merit to the way those particular chapters have been written.

Finally, the climax was abrupt and unsatisfying. Wish there was more or at least a better twist.
Barring a couple of grammatical mistakes, overall the book's language was OK. The mistakes, I guess should have been been cleared and removed by the Editor/Publisher.

The book cover design was pretty unimaginative. Guess they did not spend too much time on it. But, on the other hand, while most novels get printed in paper-backs ... this one turned out to be hard-bound.

For me, this book was a mixed bag. It was decent book with a very interesting storyline and narration but as an author there is much more ground to be covered by Jacob. He is not there yet but I would certainly read his other works.

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 2.0 / 5

Writing Style: 2.5 / 5

Characters:     3.5 / 5

Story / Plot:     3.0 / 5

Climax:            2.0 / 5

Overall:           2.5 / 5 

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