Goodreads blurb: Legendary courtesan Amrapali’s life story is as enigmatic and extraordinary as her beauty and grace. Found abandoned under a mango tree as an infant, the twists and turns of fate led her to become the Nagarvadhu, the most sought-after yet morally reviled courtesan of the kingdom of Vaishali. In Birth of the Bastard Prince, the sequel to the riveting The Legend of Amrapali, Anurag Anand explores Amrapali’s eventful life as the Nagarvadhu. He describes in thrilling detail the war between Vaishali and Magadha, in which Amrapali played a crucial role; traces her love affair with Bimbisara, the emperor of Magadha, and the birth of their son Vimala Kondanna; reveals the palace intrigues and conspiracies that led to Amrapali’s tribulations; and finally explains how Amrapali found the solace and happiness he so desired.
Weaving together facts with fiction, written with a contemporary flavor, Birth of the Bastard Prince is an enchanting exploration of Amrapali’s life as a courtesan and a mother, and her spiritual awakening in the Buddhist order.
This book picks up almost immediately where the first one “The Legend of Amrapali” by the same author Anurag Anand leaves off. And given that I enjoyed that book quite a bit, it was given that I would enjoy this one as well, and the book didn’t disappoint on any count.
The book begins by letting readers know that Amrapali has now settled down as the Nagarvadhu of Vaishali and by dint of her influence with King Yudhveer of the Vajji confederacy, enjoying a position of high prestige, power, responsibility and influence. She is loved by one and all, albeit for different reasons and selfish motives of their own. Along with her good friend and constant companion Prabha, Amrapali has settled down to the rhythms of her life.
Amrapali’s falling in love with the mysterious trader Bindusen, her bearing his infant in her womb, Prabha falling in love with Suraj, both the friends finally finding true love seem to be providing relief to the duo after the fairly distressing events encountered by them in the first book. Life seems to have taken a good turn for them and they seem to have finally found peace, happiness and contentment which eluded them for so long.
However, when Bimbisara, the king of Magadha declares his ambitious intentions of annexing Vaishali, the capital city of the Vajji confederacy under the leadership of his able younger son Ajatashatru who had just returned from a victorious military campaign. This sets in motion a chain of events which form the main crux of the narrative.
The Magadhan army’s siege of Vaishali, the stiff resistance put up by the Vajji army, the political machinations that always accompany such wars and military campaigns, are all detailed very well by Anurag Anand, who ensures that the pace of the narrative doesn’t falter even for a brief moment in the book. The fact that he uses pivotal characters such as Amrapali, Prabha, Bindusen, Bimbisara, and Devdutt (whose personal vendetta proves to be pivotal in the climactic ending of the book) and their narratives in parallel means that the reader is kept turning one page after the other to find out what happens next.
The level of detailing that the author provides in terms of the backdrop, the political motives of each of these characters, the dexterity with which he handles human emotions and relationships as in the case of Amrapali and Bindusen and Prabha and Suraj, these are a couple of things which personally endeared the book to me quite a bit. Further, the fact that he kept the character of Devdutt milling on the sidelines of all the action, until the very end when he takes center stage to manipulate the action was also something that I found very impressive, in terms of providing an appropriate closure to the narrative.
In terms of cons, there was just one character, whose name I cannot divulge here as it would amount to a spoiler, who I thought was a little contrived. A remnant from the action of the earlier book, he almost seemed to be in this book just to remind readers about the past, which was not necessarily connected to the present narrative.
Just in case, readers are worried about this being a sequel and don’t pick it up because they haven’t read the first book, the author has been helpful and has summarized the entire first book in a space of 6-8 pages in the Prologue portion of this book.
All in all, a really good read if you are a fan of the historical fiction genre, which I am. So, what are you waiting for, go ahead and click on either of these links to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link]. Yes, I will make a small commission if you do so, but your purchase price remains the same.
Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by the publisher as a review copy, but the review itself is my own and has not been influenced in any form or fashion.
|Book||Birth of the Bastard Prince – The legend of Amrapali|