Friday, November 4, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : "THE PESHWA - THE LION AND THE STALLION"



The history of the Mughals and the Marathas has always been a subject of personal fascination for me. Right from the time our school teachers taught us about Akbar, Chhatrapati Shivaji, I knew that there would be many other less known heroes during these dynasties.
And then came Sanjay Leela Bhansali who wished to make a film on Bajirao Mastani. For a decade, the idea remained just an idea, before finally being converted into a beautiful celluloid experience in 2015.

The best part about “THE PESHWA” is that debutante author Ram Sivasankaran gives you an indepth glimpse into what happened before Mastani appeared. Infact, the book ends with Mastani’s appearance. I had always wondered about how Bajirao Bhat became “THE PESHWA BAJIRAO”, and Ram does a perfect job in responding to my doubts.

PLOT

Set in the 18th century, the novel describes the rivalry between the powerful Mughal empire and the headstrong Maratha empire.

Things are set into motion when the Nizam Ul Mulk of the Mughal empire plans to kill the peshwa of the Maratha dynasty – Balaji Vishvanath Bhat. However, Bhat foils the much ambitious plan of the Nizam. However, little does he know that the Nizam would avenge his defeat in a much deadlier manner that anyone would have expected.

The death of the peshwa due to an illness results in the throning of young “boy” Bajirao Bhat as the new Peshwa. However things aren’t that easy. He has to prove that he is a chip off the old block, at the same time wage against all the conspiracies occurring within his own kingdom, before finally coming face to face to the Nizam.


WRITING & CONTENT

The book shows that tremendous amount of research has been done. Ram’s writing and command over language is brilliant. His English is flawless. The language is not as simple as the one we find in those romcom Indian novels of today, and that is such a welcome change. It only enhances the seriousness of the plot.
It was a lovely experience knowing the characters of Bajirao, Kashibai and the others in such depth.


POSITIVES

The best thing about the novel is its lovely characterizations. Be it Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, the Bajirao,  Kashibai or the characters of Bajirao’s friends Holkar, Scindia, or the characters of the antagonists Dabhade and the Nizam – every character is sketched brilliantly.

Here is a plot where the protagonists and the antagonists receive equal weightage. Be it the Nizam’s flashback or Dabhade’s post war portions with his family, they all leave a lasting impression on you.
Kashibai’s character is lovely. We feel that longing, fear she feels for her husband when he is at war.

The pace of the book is another plus point. It is tightly edited, with no unnecessary sub plots or boring dialogues. Infact, the way the character of the Maratha baby brought up by a Mughal soldier is developed, it only build up the suspense in an already gripping novel.

Thirdly, the entire strategical plots during the Bhopal attack are wonderfully planned.

Fourthly, the book ends at the right point. In a two book series, it is always important to make sure the readers remain eager for the second concluding book. With the introduction of Mastani’s character on the last page, we only wish to read soon about the much talked story of Bajirao Mastani.


NEGATIVES

I couldn’t find any loopholes or any negative points in the book. Only, the print in the book could have been slightly bigger.  


OVERALL, the novel “THE PESHWA – THE LION AND THE STALLION” is one of the finest fictional novels on history in recent times. Author Ram Sivasankaran is a brilliant author, and he deserves all the credit for this thouroughly researched, engaging and flawless debut novel.
I am eagerly looking forward to the concluding part.

P.S – I received a copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.

   

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