Tuesday, June 7, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : THE THIRTEENTH DAY



Attempting a partially fictionalized account of the greatest saga of our country is indeed a brave thing. And to come out of it with flying colors is even greater an achievement. Debutant author 
Aditya Iyengar joins the list of the authors who have tried re-telling the Mahabharata from different angles. Does he succeed in creating an engaging book?

PLOT

No one is unfamiliar with the plot of the Mahabharata; and yet Aditya’s unique narrative makes this book a lovely read.

The story unfolds on the tenth day of the war in Kurukshetra, leading to the events that ultimately led to the death of Abhimanyu. The entire plot is narrated from the point of view of three key characters – Radheya/Karna, Yudhishthira and Abhimnyu.
Out of the mammoth Mahabharata war, Aditya chooses to focus only on these 4 days that defined so many things and people.

POSITIVES

The simplicity in the language is one big plus point of this book. At times a bit more casual, Aditya’s style of writing is simple, appealing and caters to all audiences.

A lot of research has gone behind this book, and it definitely shows. An in-depth information about combats, formations, different war weapons and instruments has been provided. This is one aspect relatively unexplored previously.

Secondly, the characterizations are superb. The way Aditya develops each character, makes us feel as we know them personally. All three – Yudhishthira, Karna and Abhimanyu are characterized brilliantly.
Yudhishthira’s character is lovely. I loved how he is shown to be vulnerable, unsure, and insecure. He is the most humane character in the plot.

Our heart goes out for Abhimanyu’s character. However, my personal favorite was Karna’s character.
It is also a relief to see few of the central characters take a backseat – including Krishna, Draupadi, etc. Draupadi’s take on Mahabharata has already been described in the novel “The palace of illusions”.

Also, what attracts our attention is also how Aditya develops the other characters. There is Krishna’s son (Pradyumna), Suyodhana’s son (Laxman). Also, Shikhandi’s characterization is very well done. Arjuna and Bhima are depicted aptly too.

NEGATIVES

Aditya’s style of writing might not appeal to few hardcore Mahabharata fans. Despite the painstaking detailing, there are instances when we feel few superficial moments in the writing department.

Also, this book is a strict no no for those who don’t find the Mahabharata interesting. Those guys can very well give it a miss.

OVERALL, Aditya’s narration of the events from Bhishma’s death to Abhimanyu’s death is a must read for all those who love Mahabharata. I mean, is there anyone who doesn’t love it?

A fresh, different and well written novel, I would definitely recommend this one to all mythology lovers!

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