Title: Ajaya – Book 1 Epic of the Kaurava Clan: Roll of the Dice
Author: Anand Neelakantan
Genre: Fiction – Alternative History/Mythology
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing 2013 December
ISBN – 10: 9381576033
Price: Rs. 295 (Buy from Flipkart for Rs.150)
Pages: 456 Pages
The Mahabharata is an epic story and to weave an alternate version of the same is not an easy task, there have been a few who have attempted this before, Yuganta by Irawati Karve was a fine attempt at the same (It’s important to note that Karve’s approach is a historical one and mostly as standalone essays covering a particular part in each). Anand Neelakantan has in my opinion created another masterpiece.
In my honest opinion, this is a book that must be preserved in your personal library! Do spend some money and buy this one!!
You can read what the cover of the book says here.
It is not uncommon in mythology to create elaborate stories around historic heroic figures to elevate them to the level of gods. Over time these heroic figures then achieve cult status and go on to be the basis for various religious practices and forms of religion. So is it then that the Mahabharata does the same? That is part of the premise on which Anand Neelakantan bases his novel Ajaya – Book 1 Roll of Dice. The book serves up a treat to the novice reader who yearns to know whether the Mahabharata can be interpreted in any other way.
Like with his debut novel, Anand Neelakantan doesn’t beat around the bush and makes his affiliation to the protagonists (Su/Duryodhana, Karna,Ekalavya and all the Kauravas) very clear at the beginning of the novel. When Bhishma the grand patriarch goes about ruthlessly taking all kingdoms in the name of his nephews, he also takes the beauties of the land for them. In Gandhar he makes the mistake of allowing a child to live. The Mahabharata overlooks this important aspect, but Anand Neelakantan in his novel, writes about this as being one of the most important cause of the mass genocide that follows years later. (For most of us who’ve read the Mahabharata or watched it on television or heard stories from our parents and grandparents, the identity of the child shouldn’t be a mystery).
‘How could India resists her enemies, with such a heartless caste system, useless rituals,corrupt rulers, irresponsible citizens, and a religion that denied the real world for the sake of imaginary happiness. India, you are bleeding from thousand cuts and your downfall is imminent’- by Prince of Gandhara, Shakuni.
Ajaya – Book 1 Epic of the Kaurava Clan: Roll of the Dice is an alternate version of the Mahabharata and tells the story from Suyodhana and the Kaurava clan’s point of view. It tries to interpret the happenings, the political turmoil and the difficulties of judging what happened generations ago, based on the stories handed down from the Victors point of view.
A wonderful narrative, some interestingly woven characters, a blind puppy and it’s master who are here, there, and everywhere, a man who considers himself god and asks others to believe the same! This version of the Mahabharata will have you turning the pages to rediscover the hidden truth and the hidden agenda of the story tellers.
Certainly an eye opener with a fresh perspective of an often told epic! The story certainly resonates with the current political manipulation happening in our times 🙂
What I liked about the book
- The wonderful characterization of the protagonists and the many other people who make up this classic.
- Simple language and a beautiful narrative.
- Etching out the characters with all their flaws and making them more appealing (especially the character of Ekalavya and Jara)
What I did not like about the book
- Nothing that comes to mind.