War of the Deceivers by Ram Sivasankaran is the second book in the The Peshwa series on the Bajirao Peshwa. The first being The Lion and The Stallion. I haven’t read the first part, it is high on my TBR now, but the second one is an outstanding read.
The second book depicts Bajirao Peshwa as an established and just ruler, a fearless and feared soldier, a cunning strategist, an opportunist and a loving family man. He was almost invincible and earned himself many enemies, which includes the ailing Mughal Empire, the Nizam of Hyderabad, Rajputs and Order of Scorpion.
This Order of Scorpion, a terrorist group created by Mughals and later on controlled by the Nizam of Hyderabad, were brutal, inhuman and savagely violent. I used to cringe and squirm at the onset of their scenes in the story. They were nothing short of devils and their inhumanity and monstrousness were explicitly described in the book.
Bangash, a transgender, was the leader of the Scorpion group had lost every trait of humanity. He was sadistic and barbaric. He was unassailable and quite a fitting opponent of Peshwa Bajirao. In fact, I was eagerly awaiting their face off. And when it happened, it was like two deceitful and powerful lions, one more human and other more monster, were clashing with each other.
There was also an entry of Mastani in the story and I thought now a love triangle would come into the story thinking about the movie Bajirao Mastani. But Mastani’s part did not blend with the mainstream story and left no significant mark on the course of the story. I was disappointed since it appeared to be a promising and powerful character.
Characterization was superb altogether. There was a huge ensemble of characters. Each one of them has been distinctly described in the story that you will remember them even if they make an appearance in the story after several chapters. All credit goes to the author who hasn’t ignored a single character.
Like characterization, the conversation between the characters was top class. If the Peshwa was speaking, it feels like one. Similar was with rest of the characters. The author has used specific addressing terminology which gave a real feeling. Dialogues were engaging and takes the story forward.
Vivid and Lush Narrative
The entire premise for the story was created in an amazing manner by including authentic historical figures, dates, language, etc. You will be transported to the political mayhem of the 18th century when the power of the Mughals was dwindling fast which gave way to the rise of smaller regional powers like Maratha and Sikh.
The author’s writing was so compelling that even if you keep it aside for a while, a part of your mind will remain with the book concerned about the well being of the Peshwa.
As the title suggests it was indeed a war between deceivers. Each party had their own hidden agendas trying to outsmart each other. It was difficult to guess what was going in their mind. Plotting and scheming, the story is full of treachery.
There is action and excitement in each chapter and your brain will fizz with adrenaline rush thinking what’s next to come. Especially climax of the story was mind-blowing and mind boggling. I was biting my nails in anticipation of the outcome of the fight between Bajirao and Scorpions.
A great historical fiction series is in making and if you love reading this genre then this is a must read series.
Ram Sivasankaran has lived most of his life outside India, largely in the Middle East and the United States of America but he carries a little India in his heart. Something is so apparent from his debut series The Peshwa.
He has revived the political scenario in India during the 18th century is the most convincing manner in his series and also the long forgotten hero The Peshwa Bajirao Bhatt.
He holds a dual master’s degree from Stanford University, specializing in aeronautics, astronautics, space environment and plasma phenomena.
The Lion and The Stallion
The Lion and The Stallion was his first book. It is about the rise of Maratha Confederacy under the Peshwa Balaji Vishvanath Bhatt and his fight with Nizam of Hyderabad.
Best Historical Fiction Series
If you wish to read more Indian historical fiction book, then I have an amazing and riveting book recommendation for you, Empire of the Moghul series by Alex Rutherford. It is considered to be one of the best historical fiction series. There are total six books in the series.
- Raiders from the North
- Brothers at War
- Ruler of the World
- The Tainted Throne
- The Serpent’s Tooth
- Traitors in the Shadows
Each book is complete in itself. They revive the forgotten historical heroes and heroines of the era, created picturesque landscape of India in the 18th century, vivid description of the battlefields, rebuild the important tipping point of the empire with tinge of imagination that it feels like walking and breathing in that period. It is an action packed series worth a read if you enjoy reading historical fiction on 18th century.
Another book by the same author Alex Rutherford which comes to my mind is Fortune’s Soldier. It is a recent release about the rise of British Empire in India under the rule of Robert Clive.
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