I had heard a lot about Ashok K. Banker and how his retellings of epic Indian myths were the best that had come out so far. But I did not get the chance to read his works. Until now. The moment I lay eyes on Chanakya – The Legend Begins, the first instalment in the Itihasa series, I knew I had to read it. For where else would we get a wonderfully planned, excellently executed storyline than from the whiz of epic retellings?
The limelight that falls on the likes of Amish and Anand Neelakantan has monopolized historical fiction. That same limelight needs to focus on Ashok K. Banker, an author who, in addition to knowing what he’s writing, also knows how to put it tantalizingly well in words. Chanakya, I discovered is an epitome of Ashok K. Banker’s extreme wizardry with words and historical fiction – a combination that you will find simply stunning.
What ‘Chanakya’ Is All About:
In Chanakya – The Legend Begins, we see master strategist Chanakya as a 7-year-old boy, Vishnu Gupta. His intellectual prowess comes to the fore even then, be it his interaction with his guru in his hometown of Chanak or his father or the other more prominent gurus of Pataliputra, where he and his family have headed for a Brahmin’s conference. It is here that the Prime Minister of Pataliputra, a brutal, cruel man called Maha-amatya Kartikeya rules in the name of King Mahapadma Nanda. Maha-amatya happens to be present in the tent where Vishnu Gupta happens to get into a heated discussion with the gurus. Now, there’s a threat looming large on Vishnu Gupta and his family. He must do what’s best to keep his family safe.
Thoughts on ‘Chanakya’:
To be honest, Vishnu Gupta’s arguments are a little confusing and you have to re-read those paragraphs again. And when you do understand, it leaves you in awe of the little boy who would grow up to become advisor to great kingdoms and kings like Chandragupta Maurya. There’s not any in the modern world who could combat Chanakya in an intellectual battle.
The language used is crisp though not for beginners, the plot is fast-paced, and the story is engaging. All elements that are required to make a cracking bestseller are present to the brim in this book. To top it off, this book isn’t that long. About 170 pages and it keeps you on your toes. It isn’t suspense, but to see Vishnu Gupta (Chanakya) taking down people verbally and intelligently gives you a certain kind of literary high.
Chanakya – The Legend Begins is the kind of history lesson – even if it is fiction – that everyone must take. Read this book and acquaint yourself with the man who shaped the Maurya rule. Highly recommend this book! It seems like a long wait to the second book but it’s completely worth it!
Author(s): Ashok Banker
Publisher: Westland Books
Release: June 2018
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