Sunday, September 10, 2017

Book Review: The Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

Book Review: The Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

The 3rd part of Sharath Komarraju's Hastinapur series lives up to its reputation of being the voice of the women of the Mahabharata epic. The series is a first person narration of the epic by the female leads of the story - notably Ganga, Amba, Gandhari, Kunti /Pritha, Madri (till now). As the story progresses, the other female leads will emerge and tell the story from their point of view. 

Not only the narration, but even the story is different. So in a way, it is the retelling of the epic with the women's perspective thrown in for good measure so its an interesting read. These make this series an easy 4-5 star rating book. The book makes you think ... about the turn of events, the alternate thought process suggested in the narration. Most important, you feel for the characters. These books are not a narration of a sequence of events of Mahabharata. These are insights into the deepest thoughts of the lead female characters. Thats what makes it unique. 

I felt that this particular book went a bit too slow as compared to the earlier books. Too much introspection in there. i am not criticizing the introspection though. It had its own merit and brought out a unique perspective to the story telling but it dragged a bit longer for me this time. Also, at times, it began to hamper the story telling as the events unfolded far too slowly for impact. I removed a star purely on account of the pace - hence a 3-star instead of a 4-star rating. 

While the premise and plot angle is unique and fresh, I might suggest a bit of pace to be built into the story telling. The author as well as other readers may very well disagree with me. 

I would easily recommend this book (in fact, the entire series) to anyone interested in an alternate story-telling of the Mahabharata ... and reading it from the women's complex and yet little explored perspective. 

An interesting angle of this book is the whole 'Krishna origin' back story built into the book. Its interesting to read that part. 

And of course, the underlying common thread and plot line of Sharath's Mahabharata is the unnecessary interventions by a certain group of people into the political scene of Bharat to protect themselves and how they end up messing it every single time, and continue to apply risk mitigation strategies which eventually back-fire. (this won’t make sense unless you read the book)

It was interesting to see the evolution of the cover design. Have a look at previous 2 book covers and you see that first book was predominantly Ganga's story and hence a cover design showing her. the 2nd book cover highlighted Gandhari. This book beautifully brings out Gandhari and Kunti (Pritha) who are at loggerheads with Ganga in between, playing a pivotal role to the tale. Well thought out cover design. Also, you see the evolution of the cover design style across the 3 books - different art work styles. Someday, at the end of the series, they will come out with a box-set with books covers that are in harmony.

Quick Note: I got an ‘early readers copy’ or ‘advance readers copy’ (ARC) of the book from the author. I have been reading Sharath's work for past couple of years and I must say that i am impressed with his versatility. He has written a variety of books in a variety of genres and there is hardly any book of his that I have rated low. He has done a fabulous job in almost all his books including this series. Check out his other books too ... ranging from horror to sci-fi to short stories across genres.

Rating: 3/5

1 comment:

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