Yoddha by Rajat Pillai
A Historical Fiction on Gupta Dynasty
Yoddha The Dynasty of Samundragupta by Rajat Pillai will take you down to the most glorious part of the Indian history - the Gupta Dynasty. I have read in my history textbook that theirs was the golden era when prosperity and welfare reigned everywhere in the country due to the benevolent and capable rulers who ascended the throne one after another.
I never enjoyed studying history in school, but it is a complete different experience when it comes to historical fiction. The spiced up history of kings and queens and their bravery exploits with suspense and thrill makes it a complete worth a read.
My Thoughts on the Story
So the book Yoddha doesn't exactly deals with the golden era. Certainly not about the military success or expansion of Gupta dynasty under Samundragupta as it hints through the title and jacket. Samundragupta is not even the protagonist of the story. His story has been used as a backdrop of the main story to bring forth the protagonist Chandragupta.
The author finds his story in the tumultuous time of the Gupta Dynasty when the aging and ailing Samundragupta’s hold was declining and ruling rein came into the hands of the next generation that was Ramagupta and Chandragupta.
Yoddha is actually about the rise of Chandragupta and how he received the title Vikramaditya.
The royal family surrounded by hidden enemies with multiple assassination attempts on their life, you would find the story brimming with various threads of treachery and plotting, all of them running in parallel.
At one point my head started reeling. A question started nagging me who would put an end to this mayhem. The one who appeared promising Changragupta was crippled by the sudden mental illness. Then I thought, Samundragupta would rise to bale out the empire.
In the first half of the book, I failed to determine the protagonist between Samundragupta and Chandragupta. But then like the phoenix, our protagonist rises from ashes to shine like the sun and put things back to order. A phase of complete action and thrill starts in the story which I yearned for.
The first half of the story was good to read, but somehow those assassination attempts, haunting scenes didn't grip me or put me on the edge or bring about any curiosity. I was not concerned about whether the characters live or die. Pace and thrill were missing. I felt so because the assassinator Vyom wasn’t in his best form. So when the enemy comes around as a weakling, the thrill factor goes for a toss.
At times, the narrative was kind of bland especially during big revelation. The secrets and suspense were revealed in a plaintive and convenient manner. A little sensation before revelation, showing and not talking about it would have been great.
But the story picks up beautifully in the second half and so was the writing of the author. In fact, Yoddha becomes unputdownable and I refrained from sleeping before knowing the fate of the mighty Gupta royal family.
All the characters were well defined and sketched. The character of Chandragupta was fleshed out as an intelligent and courageous youth, but not without weaknesses and flaws. He showed immense promise with his great oratory skills and meticulous planning. I loved the human side of his character.
I developed a soft corner for Madhavasena. The best friend of Chandragupta, her warmness and selflessness enchanted me. But our protagonist Chandragupta didn't fall for her which disappointed me a lot. Rajat Pillai failed to explore her character properly and had a limited role and appearance in the plot. But when she springs into action, Madhavasena steals the show.
With a slow start and not so formidable and dangerous enemy, Yoddha fails to impress initially. But it bounces back and soon the book seemingly transforms into unputdownable.
A software engineer by profession, Rajat loves to explore and research about various topics like ranging from paranormal activity to space exploration to Indian history. All his research takes the form of some sort of writing. He enjoys travelling, trying new cuisines and watching world cinema. He was also involved in theatre, short films, street plays and martial arts during various phases of his life.
Rajat Pillai Books
1 Chandragupta Path Of A Fallen Demigod
2 The Dead Woman Writing
Historical Fiction Books
Coincidentally or subconsciously, these days I have read many historical fiction, which I simply adored. When you read one good or great book in any genre, the desire to explore more books in the genre captivates you.
This happened with the mythology genre and I have endlessly read retelling of Ramayana and Mahabharata from various point of views. In fact I have made a whole list of best Indian mythology book. Check it out if you are not short on time.
Similarly, now besotted by historical fiction, I looked for some good to great reads in this genre. Here are the few historical fictions I have read in recent time
The Peshwa Bajirao series by Ram Sivasankaran thrilled me with action and exploits. I read both the books in the series - War of the Deceivers and The Lion and The Stallion with bated breath. Mind blowing read and eagerly waiting for the third one to come which will depict the relation of Peshwa Bajirao and Mastani.
Empire of the Moghul
Written by a husband and wife duo writer with the pen name Alex Rutherford, Empire of the Moghul series enthralled and entertained lovers of historical fiction like never before. Sensational battle scenes, lush and vivid description, compelling twist and turn, engrossing and adsorbing conversation, well thought out plots with generous use of imagination, Empire of Moghul will transport you to 16th century India which marked the beginning of Mughal dynasty.
Fortune’s Soldier depicts the rise of Robert Clive in India under the British company rule also written by Alex Rutherford. The bloody saga of the battle of Plassey comes alive in the words of the author, a crucial battle which determined the future of the East India Company in Bengal. A must read.
The Familiars could be another interesting historical fiction read. The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 had been cleverly linked to the story of Fleetwood, the protagonist in the quest for motherhood.