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Book Review: The Epic of Kautilya (Born to be King) by Deepak Thomas

Fantasy fictions are charming than other genres as there you find normal things done in different ways. For instance, the background is, most of the time, is not contemporary – it is mix of myth and history and some other innovative landscapes. Next, the host of characters, unlike human, you are sure to meet demons, monsters, animals, and apes for that matter. If you have read ‘Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series, we hope you understand what we are alluding to. Coming to this novel, which stretches up to 288 pages, we felt while reading as we are with this novel and its characters and in the setting since ages. The experience was dreamlike. And when the novel ended, you feel good for the experience, and sad as you have to move on. But the hope of getting a possible sequel keeps you alive.

This novel possesses a very fantastic yet intriguing question – which is mightier to rule a kingdom, ink and intellectual or steel and strength? The protagonist, female Kautilya, so called princess of the Bharata Kingdom, is of the opinion of that a true and righteous king would focus more on ink and intellectual than war and its glory. However, her brother Dhanush is just anti-thesis to her beliefs, and feels otherwise. Who’s going to win, later on, the war between them is about their conflicting beliefs. So, who is right, who is unjust…only time and mettle of the characters will tell.

The story begins with Chandra – a well-known pacifist king of the kingdom Bharata. He has immense glory and good points to his name; however an heir to the throne is awaiting a quirk of fate for him. People suggested him to marry other women for sons, but he refuses to do as he was in true love with his wife. To change the course of destiny, he undertakes a journey along with his wife to the Himalayas –which is full of pain and suffering. He gets the boon of having children; however his wife dies before reaching the palace. He gets six children through sacrificing birds, out of which five are boys (known as raptors), and one girl named Kautilya, born out of a parrot. 

Soon, the children are sent away to get education. Among them Dhanunsh, as people believe, is said to be a born warrior, and he intends to be the heir of the kingdom. However, the king Chandra disapproves his stance. Well, when Kautilya’s marriage is arranged, Dhanush and other brothers kill the king openly on a false pretense. This shock backseats her and she longs to revenge his murder. However, Dhanush becomes cruel with his intentions and imprisons her. From here onwards, the novel takes unprecedented turn and things become worse for Kautilya and her hope to avenge the killers of her father sees new change of course. Rest of the narration is about as how she rises from there, what all she does to regain her kingdom as well to defeat her enemies, and who all support her. This is an interesting saga of a girl who not only chooses to avenge the murder of her father but also teaches apes of the Dandaka forest to snatch their liberty from the humans.

There is a lot to enjoy from the story…in the love and betrayal stance we see Kautilya’ affair with Jay, the son of a General, and then with a demon called Adi. Kautilya being a human joins the group of apes, who are desperate to gain freedom from humans. Though she struggles to get along with it, but there is a mystery as why is she with them. Kautilya was always good at sketching out strategies and was known for having good knowledge about astras. So, in the end, she uses her mind and war-strategies to get apes their deserved freedom. However, it comes at a price...what’s that? A novel full of adventure and suspense at every aspect is sure to delight your hearts.

After the end, in the epilogue we see the scope of sequel, as it is mentions Lanka and someone from there is looking for someone who must have played big role in this saga.

The author must have done immense research to turn it into a final product. Writing and narration and dialogues among characters are all superbly delivered. Well-written and well-edited, this novel of Deepak Thomas deserves to be counted among the best fantasy fiction ever written by Indian authors.


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