WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
The story starts with the end of the Kalinga war, one of the bloodiest battles in human history, and, the beginning of a new path for Ashok, the conqueror.
It goes on to define the supposed steps the King took to fulfil his goal towards protection and betterment of Life. And more importantly, his endeavours towards the formation of a secret society with nine personalities and its need in the newly developing society.
However, will the desired outcome be achieved or the King’s strategies will fall apart? This forms the greater part of the book.
Rupa Publications have always created attractive book covers and didn’t disappoint in case of this book as well. The mustard yellow coloured cover with cryptic illustrations is eye-catching and provides a picture of the subject matter within the book.
The blurb as well provides the right amount of history and mystery. Thus, it helps in appealing to the readers towards the story.
Coming to the material within, Ashok and the Nine Unknown might just be around 224 pages but the storyline has enough space for action, drama, romance, horror, mystery and magic, mingling with each other and forming notable moments.
It is richly grounded on historical facts as we know them and even myths recounted through generations. I enjoyed the narrative that felt so intriguing and realistic.
The dreads of war was portrayed vividly as well as the emotions that soured over such demanding times.
I relished the chronicle of the King, his conquests and failures, his growing confusions and his ultimate solution: a change towards his perceived righteous path.
But will that method cure all wounds?
The character of Amartya too contributed to the development of the plot. The other characters were not mere odds-and-ends to move the story forward; the author had breathed life and personality into them as well.
Along with the characters and the historical setting, the regions introduced in the book helped in building the tale as well.
Having visited Mayong myself I could relate to the author’s description of its environment and people as well as the preconceived notions attached to that place.
The inclusion of such enigmatic regions like Mayong and Egypt in the plot has helped provide the essence of anonymity and secrecy to the story.
Themes of Justice, Power and Control have been explored and has provided an understanding of the matters related to it. For instance, the author’s observation on immortality has left many strands to ponder upon.
Men have searched for this power for ages but is it really a gift for superiority or a doomed venture?
Overall, Ashok and the Nine Unknown was a praiseworthy read that I enjoyed it thoroughly. And, it ended at such a high, promising note that I am eager to read the succeeding parts in the series that will reveal more on the mystery and revenge.
I will definitely recommend this book to any fans of the historical fiction genre.
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