February 07, 2014

The Treasure of Kafur

My father's review of a book I certainly want to read now:

Writing a historical novel is like tight rope walking. If you rely too much on  history you end up reading like a text book and if you let your imagination fly  unbridled, you will be blamed for falsifying important historical facts. Aroon  Raman in his latest novel “The Treasure of Kafur” manages this balancing act  very well and gives us a highly readable story.

16th  century is drawing to a close. Emperor Akbar’s Hindustan is at the height  of its glory. But trouble is brewing in the kingdom of Khandesh (located at the  confluence of modern day Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh). Akbar’s  enemies all along the empire borders are willing to join hands with Asaf Baig of  Khandesh. But a war against Akbar’s empire requires a huge war chest. Baig stumbles upon the fact that three hundred years ago Malik Kafur, a general of  Alaudin Khilji had hidden a huge treasure in Khandesh while returning from his exploits in South India and an old woman called Ambu living in Khandesh knows its wherabouts.

Then again, Ambu and her grandson Datta are no ordinary human beings.

At this point the reader has to allow some literary license to the author: “…Ambu was also a seer, one who could pierce the veil of space and time and even twist it to her purpose; fewer still (knew) that she could communicate with chosen animals through the power of the mind, a gift she had passed on to her grandson.”

By Akbar’s time, both guns and missionaries had arrived in India, so at first, one would find it difficult to accept that such seers could exist even then.

But I did accept it and was rewarded with a gripping tale.

Compared to Aroon Raman’s “The Shadow Throne” the current work is very well edited. My only criticism is that Datta’s dream like vision of “a broad shouldered man with a strand of black pearls around his neck” could have been avoided all together as it does not take away much from the ensuing story but distracts the reader right in the first chapter while he is grappling with the supernatural powers of the protagonists. If at all needed, it could have been introduced after the fire at Babur Gate while Datta recuperates.

In short, I can say that Aroon Raman has arrived among notable writers of English Fiction in India. Do get hold of the book and read it.

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