Book review: The Forty Rules of Love: – “There…are…rules?”

Forty_Rules

3/5 Stars,

“Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.” ~Elif Shafak

You could quote and quote, endlessly, from this book. I have never highlighted text in a book this much before (…the mania to collect all the 40 rules…and the musings of Sufi philosophy….Irresistible). For example : –

“Is there a way to grasp what love means without becoming a lover first? Love cannot be explained. It can only be experienced. Love cannot be explained, yet it expalins all.” ~Elif Shafak

OR

“It is easy to enjoy the good and dislike the bad. Anybody can do that. The real challenge is to love the good and the bad together, not because you need to take the rough with the smooth but because you need to go beyond such descriptions and accept love in its entirety.” ~Elif Shafak

Now, I generally don’t read romance novels, generally!, but you throw in a ‘Historical fiction’ with insights in ‘Sufism‘ by telling the tale of ‘Rumi’ & ‘Shams of Tabriz’ in 1230’s Konya, and you have my full attention.

Blurb from Goodreads:- Elif Shafak unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives—one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor, the whirling dervish known as Shams of Tabriz—that together incarnate the poet’s timeless message of love.

Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent. Her first assignment is to read and report on Sweet Blasphemy, a novel written by a man named Aziz Zahara. Ella is mesmerized by his tale of Shams’s search for Rumi and the dervish’s role in transforming the successful but unhappy cleric into a committed mystic, passionate poet, and advocate of love. She is also taken with Shams’s lessons, or rules, that offer insight into an ancient philosophy based on the unity of all people and religions, and the presence of love in each and every one of us. As she reads on, she realizes that Rumi’s story mir­rors her own and that Zahara—like Shams—has come to set her free.”

‘Sufi’, the word itself has taken an almost synonym status as ‘Poet’, ‘Lover’, ‘Singer’ ‘Enlightened soul’, ‘Peaceful’, ‘Romantic’, ‘Devotional’ ,in almost everything, ‘such a Sufi voice’, ‘such a Sufi weather’, ‘Such a Sufi soul’ so a book delving into it is interesting in the extreme. We Indians love music, and I personally love Sufi music a lot, it has such soul in it, incomparable. So, the best thing about this book among it’s two timelines of parallel stories, one in Konya 1230, the other in Northampton 2008 was undeniably the former, the story of ‘Shams of Tabriz’ and ‘Rumi’, in my opinion the sub text to the title should have been ‘A Novel of Shams‘ rather than ‘A Novel of Rumi‘ but Rumi already did that himself, and this IS kind of an ode to his work, so I will let it go.

The book is well written, with plenty of text to inspire people by (I didn’t agree with all the rules, some just seem too vague or general, But, they are pretty….awesome), but the story of ‘Ella’ was so uninspiring and bland, sometimes outright irritating in comparison, that I had a difficult time drawing the parallels that were intended, if the whole story stayed in the 13th century I would have been a happy man, but you take the good and the bad …and ..all …that, so sure.

The story from Shams perspective and Rumi’s and the other people around them , gives the readers multiple windows to examine the world and views from, this I loved. The tale of Rumi’s transformation and Shams mission created many interesting tit-bits. Like the episode with the ‘Sema’ dance. All in all a good read.

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A Dervish performing the ‘Sema’ dance

This book had a beautiful message, and for the most part a beautiful (if somewhat unsatisfactory) way to tell it. So, I recommend it to everybody interested in Love, or in Rumi, or in Sufism or History or Romance. So, read this and breathe in the wisdom of the Sufis, feel one with the cosmos and do the Sema with the whirling dervishes (I tried…in between….Its strangely liberating) and remember rule no. 40 says: –

“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western…..Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple” ~Elif shafak

Book Review: Byculla to Bangkok: – “The Saga of the Maharashtrian Mafiosi”

byculla to bangkok

3/5 Stars

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
Frédéric Bastiat

“Ganda hai par Dhanda hai yeh !” (“Its Bad(..filthy..) but it’s Business!”), this song from the movie Company, seemed to be playing all the while in the background while I was reading this book.

The Mumbai Underworld, Mumbai Mafia….. Organized crime in any part of the world, makes up for a fascinating study, (insensitive, is it? well, its true anyhow) be it the glorified Mob in America, The Cosa Nostra in Sicily, Italy ,The Yakuza in Japan, Bratva in Russia or our very own ‘aamchi muley'(‘our boys’, as Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray once put it) from the Mumbai Underworld. So, the subject matter of this book was obviously intriguing in the extreme, add to it my own personal curiosity about anything related to real crime and the writer’s own credible background (S.Hussain Zaidi was a former investigative journalist, who spent much of his career covering the mafia and crimes in Mumbai) all solid reasons to read his books, specially this one. And so I had, this was my third book my Mr. Zaidi, Dongri to Dubai and Mafia queens of Mumbai being the first two.

Byculla to Bangkok, focuses on those individuals in the Mumbai Mafia,(Arun Gawli, Chota Rajan & Ashwin Naik, mainly these three, but many more big & small) which were perceived (in general? Really?) as Hindu Dons or Gangsters, more ‘Maharashtrian’ than the others (Dawood and his ilk). But let’s overlook that distinction for the time being. The stories of these dreaded gangsters and mob bosses are no doubt most interesting. Add to that the sensational way of writing that only a seasoned journalist could have and you hope to get a treat of a read. But, well, I was left a bit underwhelmed by the whole account. Primarily because his first one(D2D) kind of stole the show. Now, Dongri to Dubai was better in my opinion, Why? because firstly it had a more comprehensive coverage of the subject and it gave you the Origins of crime in Mumbai from the very start .i.e after independence, with Don after Dons and gangs and all that. Secondly, though it was also tainted with bias and sensationalism, Mr.Zaidi had not tried to divide the world of Indian Crime along communal lines (I mean its CRIME, for God’s sake….umm…. that is, NOT for God’s SAKE obviously). In Byculla to Bangkok, he has kind of botched up both these points. If one book was not enough for the whole story (which of-course, was not) he could have split the whole thing on a more general lines than portraying them in such a fashion. But oh well, I will take it.

Now, despite the interesting and often chilling stories this book contains, it struggled with being a ‘Non fiction’ Vs ‘Sensational Fiction’, often it read like a chronological account of events leading to the formation of a gang, rise of a Don or a vicious gangster, and then their subsequent downfall (All the while trying to be neutral) and some other times it was a sensational almost fictitious tale straight out of the silver screen. Perhaps, when you are this much involved in your subject matter as Mr.Zaidi no doubt is, some musings are pardonable, but what to make of it as a reader I was hard pressed  to think.

Despite these few problems that I had with the book, It was a good read nonetheless, well researched and quite informative (just….take some cringe worthy..roamctic vibes with a pinch of salt…its the Mafia after all). The stories about Arun Gawli(alias ‘Daddy’) were specially interesting, about the mills, the allure of crime, about the struggles for dominance with other gangs, the role of politics (Yeah I admit it….I saw the trailer of the movie ‘Daddy’…so I was curious, guilty as charged)

Daddy movie
‘Arun Gawli’ The gangster turned politician( on the left); ‘Arjun Rampal’ as Him in the movie ‘Daddy'( on the right)

Ahhhh.. Bollywood and its glorification of Crime and Criminals, what would the youth of this country do without you.

Getting back to the book, It is fast paced and not that big (266 pages, Kindle edition) so, you could comfortably finish it in a few sittings. If you are interested in reading about crime , the mafia, their origin stories then this is a must read for you, along with the other two by Mr.Zaidi, because if someone could write credibly about the darkness of that world it would be him. So, pick up this one and travel the congested alleys of Mumbai in the 1970’s, with a whistle on your lips and a ‘Rampuri’ (Knife) tucked in your back.

Book Review: Flood of Fire : – “When the Dragon got burned and the Lion escaped unsinged”

Flood of Fire

4/5 Stars

‘A few big bangs,’ observed the officer sagely, ‘can save a great many lives.’ ~Amitav Ghosh, Flood of Fire

Ahhh…..So, this ‘fabulous’ Idea had occurred to the British long before the Americans. Can’t say I am surprised really. The British at that time(most of the 17th, 18th and 19th century…and possibly before that too) were the flag bearers of despotism and well…I am an Indian, if anyone knows how being at the receiving end of that feels like, it would be us.

With Flood of fire, Amitav Ghosh concludes the Ibis Trilogy, and this series is without a doubt one of the finest historical fiction I have read till date. Mr. Ghosh’s impeccable attention to detail, his extensive research and his no nonsense yet creative way to portray history has made this series a must read for any respectable history buff. As with anything linked with history, this series too has a lot of pages, a LOT. With each book in the trilogy he adds 650+ pages to the tale. And yet, even with the slow pace the story doesn’t let you go, yes, you do take rest in btw (I did, had to absorb before moving on) but the characters were so interesting, the whole era itself was so very captivating that you puff away at the tale as you do a Cuban cigar, taste it, enjoy it up-to a point, slowly, then extinguish it, at some other time relight it and carry on where you left it from, and of course its just as good every time.

With The Sea of Poppies we began the tale from the heartland of Bihar, with the farmers toiling away under the British raj, then we progressed on to the traders of the final product (“opium”) in River of Smoke where we follow the sticky balls of opium from the well powdered hands of elite company men and ‘Free Market’ traders(smugglers, traffickers), to its ultimate destination .i.e the shivering hands of a Chinese addict in some dark den in Canton. And with the Flood of fire, we come to the point where every story line in the trilogy converges to give you the first opium wars, where a country which fought to save its citizen from the dark embrace of destruction was thoroughly humiliated and beaten by the ‘Respectable’ and ‘Honorable’ men of an empire which claimed to bring civilization and freedom to its shores, How? by giving them uncooked opium at ridiculously high prices, imposing a *cough*.. loot.. *cough* of more than 12 million Spanish dollars(at that time .i.e.1840’s) and wrested away two islands for the sole purpose of forcing the drug down the throat of an already choking country.

Ahh…I got carried away….didn’t I……..ahm ahm I love the current British, trust me, (John, Lucia, even Ravi, if you are reading this, I love you guys OK). So, Now, onto the book, yes.

The four main characters this book follows are ‘Kesri’, our village woman ‘Deeti’s brother and a proud soldier in the East India Company’s formidable army; ‘Shireen’ ,’Behram’s (our trader from book two) wife, Zachary (Our mulatto upstart), and ‘Neil’ (a convicted king / ‘Munshi’ / Translator / the guy who experiences things from the Chinese side). Their story is woven with the fate of the Chinese and Indian lands so skillfully that you get to know the conflict from every angle. Specially Kesri’s experience, fighting for a foreign power against another foreign power for………….nothing, nothing of consequence of his own is interesting in the extreme. Some of his thoughts for his superiors are, so very relatable, like…

“..to skewer this maadarchod seemed far more urgent than fighting some unknown Chinese soldier.” ~Kesri

Ahh.. the beauty of foul language in one’s own mother tongue, but I digress. So, as I have mentioned in the first two reviews too, Character development and strength of its story lines are two of the best aspects of this series. Zachary’s zig zag travels through moral considerations and temptations, good and bad, were again a testament to Mr.Ghosh’s skill at creating an interesting character which showcases that how THAT world molded the unsuspecting and gullible in its own twisted image.

All in all, Bravo!, A standing Ovation!, tilted hats and ‘Bangra’ dance all the way, so, why the 4 stars you ask. Why not 5? Fair question, so here’s the deal, when I had to check to see how much a book is left, to actually count down the pages till I finish it, means I wavered, means I could come out of the book without meaning to, that I noticed the door bell being rung, noticed that I was hungry, noticed that maybe I should sleep because I had to go to the office. Now, you might say that that’s no excuse, but it is, to me it is, so deducted one for just that, for making me read those extra pages that were not so interesting, that made me take a break. Unfair? well no I don’t think so.

But I wholeheartedly recommend this to every history lover, or the ones who enjoy a long read, buckle up guys, this is your door to the 19th century Asia, where all the ‘Fun’ stuff was happening which led to the current shit we are in. Take a gander from the deck of the IBIS.

Book Review: The Hero of Ages :- “Third Time’s Really the Charm!”

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4/5 Stars, Goodreads Rating System

“THE BEST WAY TO FOOL SOMEONE, was to give them what they wanted. Or, at the very least, what they expected. As long as they assumed that they were one step ahead, they wouldn’t look back to see if there were any steps that they’d completely missed.” ~Brandon Sanderson

Oh you deviously clever clever man, Mr. Sanderson. I love it! There! There’s no other way to put it. This is without a doubt one of the best ending to a fantasy trilogy I have ever read. Don’t you love it when it all comes together beautifully, surprising you a bit at how perfectly it all fits.

Blurb :- Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world.

Ever since I started The Final Empire, I was apprehensive about the end of the series, the mistborn universe was so good, the characters were so well developed and the story line with all its structured magic and constant plot twists was so engaging, that I thought this is too good to end on a good high. You kind of feel that way about a fantasy series, but dear me, was I ever wrong to doubt, to lose faith because Brandon Sanderson is the real Hero of Ages for fantasy writing. Even though his writing style is simple, you feel the world for all its complexities and interlaced storylines ever so acutely. In some books you have to give a lot of leeway to the author, take his leaps for granted, stifling your urge to scratch away at the cracks or to demand answers to actually engross in the book like The Gunslinger by King, people have loved that book but I just couldn’t, there were just too many holes, leaps that I just couldn’t love it all the way. No such trouble here, The Final Empire was to my mind kind of a standalone book, it didn’t give you too hard a time about anything, introduced to an awesome new world, to a intriguing cast of characters and left you a little curious. The Well of ascension again furthered the world building, made you comfortable with the characters and DID leave you with questions, as the second book in the trilogy that was its rightful function. The Hero of Ages, was the end, the book of answers and although I did not expect it, Answers it did provide, for Everything! Each little story line was linked, it was all part of the plan, the dominoes all fell into their respective places in the end and you go ‘Woaaahhhhh!’

One of the main strengths of this book , is the character development of “Spook” , “Sazed” and “Tensoon” , though ‘Sazed’ has been one of my favorite characters in the series since Book 1, the other two were also infinitely enjoyable. The other strength is the Story-line itself, “You Don’t know what I do for Mankind.” The lord ruler had exclaimed in the first book, and boy was he right, I mean seriously, after reading this one you say to yourself “You knew nothing Jon Snow“, and that was the intention, crafty little Mr.Sanderson had the whole thing figured out since page 1 of book 1, he didn’t go in blind, he started this thing having the whole damn map and deliberately hid, blurred or plain hoodwinked us into not paying enough attention, until it was time and he went Abra-ka-Dabra. Good one Sir, Good one indeed.

The world building in these books was phenomenal, at par with Martin or Rowling or even Tolkein I dare say (Okay, maybe not that intricate, but pretty damn close). The landscape with its various dominances, the Ash mounds, the Red sun, the constantly falling ash, brown plants and the mists. I mean talk about a world which knew that there’s some seriously wrong shit going down in it, and you would get the Mistborn Universe. With its creatures and species and the whole hierarchical hullabaloo, its pretty fantastic.

This is a gem of a fantasy, a novel, a series rather, which every fantasy lover should read at least once, Okay maybe twice, maybe give it another go after reading all the side books too, okay maybe read it every two years, when you want to get lost somewhere.

 

Book Review: The Well of Ascension :- *~Appreciative Whistles 1, 2, 3……~*

Well of Ascension

4/5 Stars Goodreads Rating System

“I kind of lost track of time…”
“For two hours?”
Elend nodded sheepishly. “There were books involved.”   ~Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, That’s kind of how I felt while reading this book. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely true, I experienced this one through Audio-book format, almost 29 hrs worth of audio, so time is one thing that I could keep a track of, though I still successfully lost myself into it.

The fabulous world of Mistborn with which Mr. Sanderson acquainted us in The Final Empire undergoes some dramatic changes in the trilogy’s 2nd installment. Understandably so if you think about it, What happens when you upset 1000 year old established order of things ? When you do the impossible and kill God ? When an empire which was united due to tyrannical terror has nothing to be afraid of anymore? When it’s ‘everyone for themselves’? And everything is up for grabs? The answer is simple, Chaos, chaos reigns. And so, what happens to the City which was home to the Almighty? It gets besieged of course, not by one not by two but by three armies, and the people trying to rule it, well, they find its not all that simple. After every Revolution comes a time of chaotic adjustment, that brief period where the people who fought so hard for their freedom doubt whether they have done the right thing. Specially, If there’s a chance that a thing worse than the overthrown tyrant ‘Lord Ruler’ waited in the shadows.

Brandon Sanderson, has earned himself a fan. Though, this is only my 2nd book by him, I absolutely love his storytelling skills, its completely engrossing. And though the book could feel like it drags a bit in the middle (not to me, nope, not to me at all) nothing was ever redundant. The plot of this book, Its fantastic characters and Sanderson’s writing prowess are absolutely awesome. This series, to my mind, is in league with the most famous fantasy works, a bit darker than ‘Harry Potter‘, and a bit lighter than ‘The First Law‘ series. This book, I felt was a preparation pad for all the characters of the series, understandable, the first one introduces you to the world, the problem and then stirs the pot quite vigorously, the second one would be chaotic, where everyone involved(The characters) will have to pull up their socks, tuck in their fears and grow and adapt through it all, the third, well, we could hope will be THE Showdown. Though, this by no means indicate that this book lacks action, although intrigue and politics take much of its space, the interest or the excitement in the story never wavers. The Characters of ‘Vin’, ‘Elend’ & ‘Sazed’ were most enjoyable, each struggling with a herculean task, their stories and POV’s were the focal point of interest and excitement.

I enjoyed this immensely, even though it had some cringe worthy romantic moments, but teenagers (the characters I mean), what could you expect, really. I am not even pissed that I will have to read the next one immediately, because that Ending, …well,…..okay, that Ending won’t let you rest with contentment, like the first one did. It practically thumps away in your head, you have to get the next one. I am very much looking forward to it. To all who love fiction and specially fantasy, Ladies and Gentleman, we have struck Gold with this series. Pick it up, oh you absolutely must.

 

Book Review: Midnight’s Children: – “A mind-boggling beauty of Literature “

Midnight's Childern

5/5 Stars

“To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world” ~Salman Rushdie

There’s something to be said about digressions, about the chaos of thoughts one after the other, mingling and colliding like waves of an uneasy ocean. Thoughts disjointed and devoid of sense in their individuality, yet in the end meaningful to each other, like various little pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle where two pieces could be as different as structurally possible and yet in the end complete each other and ultimately give that final reward ‘Meaning’, ‘Sense’ and of-course the feeling of accomplishment as we gaze at the full picture. The phrase “Learn how to see, Realize that everything connects to everything else” by Da Vinci comes to mind.

The narration of Saleem Sinai in this book gives truth to these words. Before delving into the story and its symbolism then, lets take a look at its structure, there are books written in First person style or a Third person style,  this uses both of them, sometimes Saleem refers directly to himself, sometimes still referring to himself he takes a third person approach, this amalgamation of narration gives this book a unique advantage, it can take philosophical detours and yet stay true to the story, it skews the events keeping the protagonist (in his delusion, truth , fallacy, we never really truly care) at the center of everything . Our hero (for the lack of a better word) is truly fickle in his tale and he admits it freely. This delving into the mind, sifting through thoughts, one moment at the start of something, the next revealing the end prematurely, connecting invisible dots, impossible theories. And you never really question any of it. Continuously in the tale he will give away the end, then delve back through much of his own musings of fantastic philosophies and start the story from the beginning, summarizing for our benefit all that transpired and how it connects (or seems to connect for him). Books that can successfully pull this off are hard to find (maybe “I, Lucifer” by glen Duncan or “The slow regard of Silent things” by Patrick Rothfuss), harder to read as well, not for everybody, the ramblings of a madman truly appeal to the mad, or do they? just to the mad?  The enormous success of this book decorated with “Man Booker Prize (1981), The Booker of Bookers Prize (1993), The Best of the Booker (2008) would suggest otherwise.

Magical Realism or Fabulism call it what you will, was a concept with which I had a passing acquaintance, courtesy of Neil Gaiman & his books “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys“, but to experience it so profoundly was a first, perhaps because I was familiar with the setting (India, Independence and its struggles) or perhaps Salman Rushdie is just a master of this world and his book an absolute masterpiece of this genre. And so we delve into the story which mixes realty and magic and cares not for the truth because “What’s Real and What’s true aren’t necessarily the same“. So,on 15th Aug 1947, when Nehru declared to the world “….At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…”, along with India awoke 1001 new born children, as special and full of possibilities as the newborn country itself. Midnight’s Children with fabulous potential and special powers of which Saleem perhaps was the greatest. But yet the story doesn’t start there, no sir, it takes 32 years and 170 pages to reach there, the story starts in 1915 Kashmir among rubies, diamonds and a spectacular Nose. With Saleem’s grandfather. To truly understand a person you have to swallow the world indeed. Or as he aptly summarized in the book.

“Who What am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”

You are getting the allure, aren’t you. And so, you hear him out from Kashmir to Bombay to Karachi to Dhaka to Delhi, you hear him out and all the lives that he touched or that touched him. The greatest of which was the nation itself, a life which rivaled history in its incredulity. The symbolism in the story might not be apparent to some, to me it was, but I can totally understand the confusion. The story travels with India on its journey to independence to partition to its flirtations with socialism communism to corruption to its wars of 1947  ’65 ’71 to its period of emergency 1975-77. Narrated by the person who shoulders the responsibility for everything and when I say everything I do mean everything.

The prose style Rushdie has used is marvelous, I have not read many post modern books but, this multitude of awesomeness has convinced me to pay more attention. The literary significance of this work would be apparent to almost everybody who read it. Frustrating is a word I am trying to avoid because generally frustrating books don’t keep me up at nights, when only the inability of my eyes to not stop burning force me against my wishes to give it a rest. So frustrating ,No, complex, Yes, maddening at times, Definitely, Goddamn this book is off the chain, a capital YES. And so this book will have a rare honor in my library, having a 5 star rating and a ‘mind-boggling’ tag. In one of the many reviews I read “This book is Rushdie’s love letter to India” and I concur, that is a most apt analogy, as this book not only celebrates the ‘crowd’ and multitude of concepts that form my country but also embraces the dark side of it, and shows that hope though not always but many a time trumps hate and when it does the result is a chaotic beauty of infinite proportions. I urge everyone to pick this one up, fully realizing that perhaps not everyone will be able to. So, to everyone who does the rewards would be fantabulous but beware ‘Here there be Dragons’.

 

 

Book Review: Ponniyin Selvan Book 2: Whirlwinds : – “The Plot thickens”

Pnniyin selvan Whirlwinds

4/5 Stars Goodreads Rating System

After completing his first commission, our rowdy hero ‘Vandhiyathevan’  departs on another, given to him by the beloved Chozha princess ‘Kundavai’, over whom he is obviously smitten. This task will take him to the namesake of this series, to ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ Arulmozhivarman, the younger Chozha prince himself. And the plot decidedly thickens.

The second book in the series lives up to its expectation and more. After getting comfortable with the writing style in the first book, you thoroughly enjoy the characters and the story line in this one. The web of conspiracies been woven by oh so many parties in this story is intriguing in the extreme, and the characters, specially the female one’s are most interesting, be it ‘Kundhavai Piratti’, princess of the Chozha empire, the beautiful but poisonous ‘Nandhini Devi’, the boat-woman ‘Poonguzhali’ or the deaf-mute ‘Mandakini’. They fill the colors in this story, with the pink of their love, the green of their jealousy, the white of their kindness, and the red of their vengeance. And of-course our headstrong hero Vandhiyathevan with his penchant for finding trouble wherever he goes, no dull moment in the whole story indeed.

We get to visit “Lanka” in the 10th century, as war wages on between the Chozha and Sinhala kings, the emerald island is experienced in uncharacteristic peace given the circumstances, courtesy of the benevolence of Ponniyin Selvan of-course. It’s common knowledge that ‘Kalki‘ visited Sri Lanka three times to get the story right, I am happy to report that his visits were not in vain. The plot is furthered by finally getting introduced to the central character of the series. The romance in the writing and the deftness of the plot makes this a specially pleasurable read.

I will be waiting for ‘Pavithra Srinivasan’s’ next installment of translation, of this great historical fiction, with all the eagerness and restlessness of a whirlwind.