Rajat Pillai’s historical fiction is a portrait of Harshavardhan, a young warrior who gets thrust into a position of great responsibility well before his age.
Born into a loving, royal family, Harsha doesn’t realize what it takes to lead a kingdom and keep warring forces at bay until he is forced to confront the loss of his loved ones and fight for his motherland.
I love reading books that are steeped in Indian history and that regale the readers with tales of kings & queens.
Right from the first page, I knew I’d be fully immersed in Rajat Pillai’s storytelling because of the essence it carries. His writing style is action-oriented but doesn’t shy away from painting vivid pictures of palaces, forests, battlefields, and other landscapes.
There were instances where I felt that the author could have used the “show, don’t tell” technique to assert how a character was feeling or the state of things. That would have added a great deal to the reading experience.
One of my favourite aspects of the book is the thought-provoking nature of several passages. I highlighted many of them and I know that these ideas will remain with me for life.
The chapters in the book are relatively short, which further engages you and makes you want to keep reading.
Harsha is a likeable character, brave and determined to do the right thing. It was disheartening to read about the series of events that lead to him shedding his idealistic view on life & society and becoming more sombre in his approach.
It takes almost the first half of the book for the main conflict to be established and for the protagonist to be forced into action. While reading, a part of me did feel that the pacing could have been different. But I also realize that it was equally important for the author to set up the context and explain how various characters are connected.
If, in the first few chapters, you are overwhelmed by the number of historical figures mentioned, don’t let that deter you from continuing to read. All of their roles in the story become evident as the plot progresses.
Some themes that are present are betrayal, self-immolation, grief, and violence.
I read this book in a little over a day and am so glad to have been introduced to the Vardhan family and their dynasty. If not for this novel, I may have never known about them.
I will certainly be picking up more of the author’s works.
Note – I received an ALC of this book from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.