The Conquest of the East – Royal Crown Returns by R Durgadoss – a book review

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa
  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9789353332600, 9353332605

I was really happy to see a work on the unsung heroes of the South in terms of mythology and history put together and this is very well done story with the Chola history intertwined to make it a historical fiction. Thanks to the author Dr.  R Durgadoss.

The characterization of Surya the hero and the final chapter are an ode to the way they armed warriors of those times actually lived in those era of Cholas. The background and the implication of his history also is like spicing up the story to a great bit. The author has taken pains to research the war tactics being used those times and also those cultural issues that comes in terms of relationships the marriages and the customs that prevailed there on.

For example there was a slice of live in relationship which if we take it in today’s age must have been too good in terms of societal reformation. The kings marrying second time after war victories is also well documented.

The background of the building the Big temple and the city of Gangai Konda Cholapuram and the jewels which were supposed to be a part of Chola dynasty keeps the story well knitted across the time line with the character of Surya fitting in seamlessly.

The author has taken liberties and it fits well in terms of characterisation and I must add this has a script for a movie for the twists and turns that the author makes us live in.

The naval warfare technology and the character of Surya are well intertwined to get the story the pace it deserves and adds to the overall story telling. There is war fare, there is strategy, there is romance and they are mixed in a concoction for the reader to enjoy them.

A nice fast paced read The Conquest of the East is a must read and to be frank you will finish this in one go for sure.

To pick up your copy go to Amazon or Flipkart.

Senthilkumar

The Code of the Manavas by Arpit Bakshi – a book review

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa
  • Genre: Foreign Language Study
  • ISBN: 9789353041205, 9353041201
  • Pages: 295

The author in this first of the series has tried to go into sci-fi mode with the background of mythology and it looks like reading the past into the future. Ideally as we are looking into an uncertain future, take the Mars Mission for example, it makes it imperative for humans to look for new vistas of emigration if I may use the word.

Here it’s the same with Krishna and team trying to save the world Bhoomi while there is big hack happening to destroy the earth. The pace could have been better and its gets more technical and things like that for sometime, that the story could have been faster is obviously at the end.  Ofcourse even for the protagonist the time is of the essence.

As the story gathers pace we are waiting for some real happenings that could change the way for the better. There is a lot of things which could have sped up the pace of the read.

A good attempt but lags behind in pace and somewhere is a retelling of some of the Mahabharata instances straight with names so similar its hard to negate that feeling.

Look forward to a tighter leash in the next edition of the trilogy.

Senthilkumar

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison by Devdutt Pattanaik – a book review

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • Genre: History of Religion, Hinduism, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
  • ISBN: 9789353332303, 9353332303
  • Edition: 2018

This is a laborious exercise ideally because the context is different. The other side of the comparing these two works is tough because they are totally having different approaches to target segment. It also is important to understand the length and breadth of the story are widely different. The fact that the characters continue to Mahabharata from Ramayana is also a pointer to the similarities and how they are a continuous set of instances that make this grand story come alive.

I read with interest the snippet like comparisons by Devdutt Pattanaik where he has put it as My playful comparison, (still wonder why it’s playful) there are enough and more comparisons you could take away right from the childless fathers in Dasaratha to Shantanu to sorrowing parents in Dasaratha to even Pandavas after the war.

We also get to see quite a few instances in terms of geography and history or the narration by rishis, etc.

But given that author has taken liberty for the time of the authorship of both the epics, I would have loved to differ. For example, the Big Temple in Tamilnadu is over 2000 years old and the devotional movement in their time was as big as anything that is covered elsewhere.

One more I noticed was the Greek and Buddhist comparisons, that are totally different and the context in which those thrived also makes for comparisons.

I was also not able to see the Ram vs Krishna connect or comparison here. That would have made it all the more interesting since the author has given very few instances of the comparison in a perspective of things. Those are the celebrated characters in the whole scheme of things. That Mahabharata has a Bhagavad Geetha in it has not be taken into consideration.

I think a body of work of such grandeur and vastness in both cases inspite of being in Sruthi mode thats hear say to being written so well after long, will constitute similarities with human beings and Gods in an intersection of game of life.

That women in both the epics have cast a shadow is irrefutable, that of Sita and Panchali, but then when you see these as just stories it would get you to this connect only. These are imageries for spiritual existance and at some places the author puts them concretely.

That there are multiple versions that have made these epics into a reckoning literature in their own right, this will also have its way of reflecting the time that the authors lived in.

Infact this is also happening now as we see multitude versions of Mahabharat and Ramayana from different authors and different perspectives from different characters than being rendered by Valmiki or Vyasa.

This is quite a study of contrast and yes you could open any page and read this in case you want to because like I mentioned earlier these are snippets and there are almost 56 instances that the author takes us through and they are small but important to note.

I am only cautious about some issues like Vedic period and Brahminism that the author takes undue liberty with. It’s like saying there was no gravity or something till Newton discovered it. One instance he says this is because of the Panini’s work of grammar came in at one certain point in time. I am unable to understand if that were the case would everyone be using the language without any sense till then. I think that is wrong way to reference the language part. Sangam literature in Tamil is far older in that case going by inscriptions.

Anyway an attempt in bringing the similarities which will continue to exist even today. You write a plot and then you can be sure that was there in Mahabharata or Ramayana.

One thing I have noticed is from giving the stories its due to now getting to liberal interpretations Devdutt Pattanaik has come a long way. Well you cant find fault with this its the way the epics have allowed itself to be retold.

Thank you Flipkart for sending in the copy and you can buy this here.

Senthilkumar

Once Upon an IAS Exam – by Dr. Vijayakarthikeyan, a book review

Once upon an IAS exam, by Dr. K Vijayakarthikeyan

There are two disclaimers here. The author is Commissioner,  Coimbatore Corporation, and is a well known motivational speaker. I wanted to review this personally as I thought this will be a different one coming from the author / speaker I know and have had the opportunity to listen to.

The story is a very simple one of a IAS aspirant and the way to his success amidst the whole drama of his personal life, the change of syllabi and how he handles them with elan. Vishy is he aspirant and he doesnt make his cut the first time, and then what does he do? Simple propose to his girlfriend for marriage… It might look very cinematic but Vishy is a different character who makes the cut understanding the context.

The narration gets top marks because this could have been a 400 page story. But the author nails it in such a straight forward narration and gets us closer to the characters with ease. The usual tribulations of boy in love and the parental pressure apart, the positives makes this story a very easy read.

The anecdotes on Dhoni perhaps is the best in terms of trying to bring home the point of equanimity. That picture that has Dhoni not being on high even after winning the World cup is a big motivation for everyone to take life as it comes.

The other side of the story is the idea of time management especially during the exams is worth emulating. The Never Never Give up idea is very well presented here and this applies to any of the situation that we are in not necessarily in the context of preparing for the civil services exams.

The love story part is very cinematic in a way, but thats ok given the way the story moves and yes you could expect people in Delhi too without any hint of whats in store.

I loved the characterization of Vishy’s father and mother, and the way Vishy responds to the medical emergency two times when he has to take the exam the next day morning. I think there is a message for the parent folks out there on how to respond or rather react to the kids exam results or how to take decision for the career.

I am sure Dr. Vijayakarthikeyan has more up his sleeves and wish him all the very best for his future works. Looking forward to having his next work at the earliest.

So here you go click on the links to pick up your copy Amazon | Flipkart

Senthilkumar

The Tree Bears Witness: A Birbal Mystery book by Sharath Komarraju – a book review

tree bears witness

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Westland (17 November 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9386850443
  • ISBN-13: 978-9386850447
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm

This is a wonderful thriller with the background of the Akbar and his famous and favourite courtier Mahesh Das popularly known as Birbal. There is a murder in the Palace and the murdered is one of the guest from Rajputs called Sujjamal.

Akbar has this responsibility given to none other than his trusted courtier Birbal. The best part is the victim is the brother of one of the new Rajput bride Hina Kunwari and she has just come into the palace.

Now the thing is if this murder is not cracked that might have a lot of repercussions for the Emperor to high stakes political issues with the Rajputs and other leaders in the region. And also time is of the essence and the Emperor cannot wait for the crime to be wrapped in suspense on who did it and as such gives Birbal two days to get the murderer.

The story is well narrated with instances that has the readers hooked to the last page. Ofcourse the fact that there was no witness and how there was no witness are all well taken up by Birbal as he builds up his case in the short time that he has at his disposal.

The time he spends with the guards at the place who are a part of the suspect list and the stories that he hears from the older man gives him a bit of hint in making the tree a witness.

The story is how Birbal gets to crack the case with all the suspects involved and help Akbar regain his respect with the new bride makes for an interesting Sherlock story. For once the tree becomes a witness and helps solve a murder mystery.

Well narrated and fast paced the story is planted in a nice setting on the Akbar era and it makes for an easy understanding of the characters.

Worth a read if you are into mystery novels. Pick your book here.. Amazon | Flipkart

The Peshwa – War of the deceivers by Ram Sivasankaran – a book review

    Ram Sivasankaran’s The Peshwa – war of deceivers

    • Language: English
    • Binding: Paperback
    • Publisher: Westland
    • ISBN: 9789387578654, 9387578658
    • Edition: 2018
    • Pages: 496

    A terrific tale of war strategy that was a hall mark of the Marathas during their period and the story is a classic thriller which ever way you look at it. A page turner with a historical approach makes it easy to be with all the characters. The author Siva Sankaran has done a wonderful research on this subject to churn out this book.

    Intrigue and backstabbing and the ruthlessness of the warfare tactics and the infiltration among the sides make it very fragile. The pace at which the story goes is pretty fast and makes it a compelling read. Everything is fair in love and war was the phrase but you get to see it in real in this book. The details of gruesome warfare tactics, the manipulation at every turn and the twists and turns make this an unputdownable book.

    Just as you keep wondering what is the Peshwa Baji Rao Bhat thinking or if he is being outsmarted, you are led to a black hole in the real sense. The author has a knack of pointing your thoughts in a different direction and leading you through the maze.

    The intricate detailing of the mercenaries and their ways of destruction and also the way the Scorpions deal deathly blow to the Marathas are worth the research and the author has taken pains to take s through the age and also make us revel in the time frame that he narrates the story.

    The story is also very personal in a way the relationship between the characters are concerned. There is this father’s love, a daughters love, and on the other side we have doting lovers in Peshwa and his wife.

    I think the build up and the suspense has been absolutely taken care by the author and he leaves no stones turned to keep us riveted to the story through out. The narration of going back and forth also has been very well handled. The author packs a full fledged historical thriller into a book of almost 500 pages and sure has the sign of being made into a movie.

    Pick up this book and you will enjoy a bit of war time history, some real history, and if you love twists and plots…

    Pick your copies here : Amazon | Flipkart

    I am M-M-Mumbai by Rishi Vohra – a book review

    I am M-M-Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

    Paperback: 192 pages
    Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications; 1 edition (2018)
    Language:
    English
    ISBN-10: 9386455706
    ISBN-13: 978-9386455703 

    I am M-M-Mumbai is a breezy read and has a very simple to talk tone that makes its a single sitting read. Stammering and you know you might think about another hero in Bollywood. Coming together of things make it for the hero in this scheme of things.

    The stammering of the hero is all that he needs to overcome and this could be well anything in our life to overcome. A motivational positive story of an upcoming actor is well presented in a straight forward manner. May be the background of the author has some element of coincidences being revealed to the readers. The many facets of Mumbai come to the fore during the story telling.

    Sometimes its a bit predictive, but the characters hold on to their own right from the protagonist to the circle of characters around him. One thing I liked about this is the story could well be a negative of what all happens in the Bollywood but then this is a whiff of fresh air in terms of the people presented here.

    Some of the incidents are quite relatable and that we can easily identify with. I liked the way the story moved on and the characters in a very positive way, given that you can write so much of negative things around Bollywood.

    The author does a great service to the goodness of human being,  taking it for granted and every time there could have been a disaster, he get a seamless character to help the protagonist and also use a handicap to make it better for Rudra.

    The marriage of the childhood sweethearts in the story, is a bit bollywoodesque if you ask me, but then given the authors proximity to bollywood it’s was quite expected.

    I would recommend you to pick it up for some whiff of fresh air and a dose of positive vibes in your life and you will think that the world is after all not as bad as portrayed.

    Like I said earlier the book finishes up so fast may be because some places are predictable. But then that’s ok with some social messaging.

    So go here to pick up your copy Amazon | Flipkart

    Thanks to the author for sending a copy to review and hope he has many more stories to tell. (This is the first time I am reading his work.)

    Senthilkumar Rajappan

    ‘The Wise Man Said’ by Priya Kumar – a book review

     

     

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    • Language: English
    • Binding: Paperback
    • Publisher: Books That Inspire
    • Genre: Religion & Spirituality
    • ISBN: 9788193391204, 8193391209
    • Edition: 1, 2017

    So its again a wonderful opportunity to review after having read the book ‘The Wise Man Said’ by Priya Kumar.

    This is a stellar work in terms of getting so many nuggets of wisdom from far and wide with the character of the Wise  Man through his diary. I am sure you would not dare to take this trip unless we have the time as our investment to go the distance and learn things and sometimes unlearn it the hard way.

    The chance meeting with the wise man probably was destined to be since we get to know a lot of stories from all around the world in its unique flavour. Every story / travel of the Wise man is a testament to how we take life and how we react to it in situations that present before us.

    I am sure we would not have known about some habits from far and wide unless the wise man decided to trek them and give us the wisdom in a power packed paper back.

    That the man decided to tell us some unconventional stories is something we need to cherish with this book. The sense of gratitude or a sense of deja vu is evident when he sees some personal achievement which are bound by ethical behaviour even when they are in high seas.

    That spirituality is a part of our living is evident irrespective of it being given in non religious way across the world and ofcourse that is a proof that world is a better place than we imagine.

    P.S: I have to admit I wasn’t able to finish this review long back. But the best part is I am able to recall those mystery stories and also how impactful they are.

    P.P.S: Also keep track of the author on her social media handles and Youtube channels.

    P.P.P.S: In case you want to pick up a copy.. at Flipkart / Amazon 

    Vishnu by Subhadra Sen Gupta – a book review

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    • Language: English
    • Binding: Hardcover
    • Publisher: RUPA
    • Genre: Fiction
    • ISBN: 9788129147370, 8129147378
    • Edition: 1, 2017
    • Pages: 48

    So this is the second book in the series after Ganesh which has already been reviewed earlier.

    Now I can foresee many more stories being told to kids this way and they don’t disappoint, and imagine the story telling with telling illustrations for kids and the setting is going to get better and enjoyable.

    So here the author presents three different stories we normally identify with Vishnu the protector of the trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

    In this land of India if you want to achieve seriously powerful weapons and sometimes even immortality there is an way to go about it and quite often the asuras or the opponents of devas as we know them, do it with finesse that they will end up with some of the best wishes granted to them.

    So in the first story titled How to fool an Asura is that of Bhasmasura as his name suggest the asura with ashes, invoked Shiva and got his prayers answered and in that he wanted anyone he touches  with his hand to become ashes.

    This as usual was a problem for the Devas led by Indra and they take refuge of Vishnu to somehow defeat Bhasmasura.

    Vishnu takes the form of Mohini a beautiful girl and get to teach Bhasmasura and he being very happy about it continues to dance following the steps of Mohini,  till he puts his hand on his head without realising that he would burn to ashes.

    The second story Sea of Milk  is that of churning the milk ocean and how Vishnu became the turtle and held the mountain for them to continue churning the milky ocean. He takes the form of again a beautiful maiden to get the advantage to the Gods.

    The third story of Vamana is also a great one with the King Mahabali who is also an asura who gets to rule the world with his powers. But then it has to be stopped or else there might be a problem for the devas. When asked for three foot steps of land from Maha Bali, Vishnu covers the earth and sky with two steps and Bali offers his head for the third step.

    So we have some nice stories that will enliven the kids during sleep time or when they are seeking fun.

    The author has taken liberty to interpret things for kids and in a way it seems it suits the adult audience too. As for me, the kid at home seems to like it with the interesting illustrations and pictures that they identify with.

    Tapas Guha has done a commendable job with his illustrations and the cover looks very nice.

    Click on these links to pick the copy from Amazon / Flipkart.

    Senthilkumar

    You Can Achieve More by Shiv Khera – a book review

    • Paperback: 296 pages
    • Publisher: Bloomsbury India (18 April 2018)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 938634906X
    • ISBN-13: 978-9386349064
    • Package Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm

    I signed up for this for the simple reason that its SHIV KHERA.

    One of the most impacted stories that is also a part of this book is about being woken up by the mother every day morning. In a situation of handling money and a bit of unethical variety the accountant asks his mom what he should do. When he explains the things, she says that she doesn’t understand what he says but says one thing  “I don’t understand anything you say, but I want my son to be awake when I enter the room”

    I was not disappointed with the book, has a lot of things on the ethics and moral side of it which are given a go by in todays corporate world.

    The book is a very lucid in the sense making the subject easy. Not many jargons. Author given his extensive training experience quotes from his seminars and makes us relate to the messages he has, in his inimitable style.

    To be honest his approach on the ethical and moral issues deserves praise simply because he has taken it to the logical end in terms of the context and more so he believes real issues are taken up.

    The base premise is of living by design and not by default. I think we get into the default mode the moment we get into a comfort zone. Perhaps that is why we need to remind ourselves that its not the real potential that we are really better and more capable that what we think.

    There are books and there will be books, this is one of the simpler ones and easy to digest if you ask me. The design of the book and the layout with easy to read format and quotes in special boxes makes it reader friendly and also make it easy to take notes.

    The author does say that you can take your time reading this book, I think its like you can come to this book anytime later and that serves you well simply because it is a kind of reference material that we can look up to.

    The best part is the exercises behind each of the topics and I think that works very well like – the things to do and action plan after every chapter is read.

    This book is a clarion call by the author to live life by design and not default. You could always keep it simple and real and this book has the ability to make people look within and find their potential and achieve more than they think they can.

    The book will be a great help for those who doubt themselves and for those who think greatness is thrust upon a few.

    A person with a positive attitude cannot be stopped and a person with a negative
    attitude cannot be helped.

    Thanks Flipkart for the copy. This review is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program.

    Senthilkumar