The Rise of Hastinapur – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review


TheRiseOfHastinapur_CoverGoodreads blurb: For the story of the Great War is also the story of the women…

Amba lives for revenge, but circumstances and men conspire against her. Will her daughter bring her the only salvation she seeks?

Kunti stakes all to free her brother Vasudev and his wife Devaki. Yet it is the groom choosing ceremony that will define her life.

Gandhari too has come of age, and is faced with a difficult choice: she must marry the blind prince of Hastinapur if she is to save her kingdom from the certain ruin it faces due to Hastinapur’s deceit.

In the background, Bhishma pulls the strings, making alliances and marriages, devising new strategies, ever increasing the might of Hastinapur.

This is the Mahabharata like you’ve never seen it before.

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The toughest job for any author penning a series of books is to keep each successive book in the series just that tad better than the previous one. But going by how Sharath Komarraju has written The Rise of Hastinapur, the sequel to The Winds of Hastinapur [Link to my review], this seems like cakewalk for him. If I thought the first book was awesome, then I truly have run out of exclamations and superlatives to describe the second one.

While a simplistic opinion of this book could be summarized as a point of view of the Mahabharatha as seen from the principal women characters’ eyes, such a description would be doing grave injustice to the extremely imaginative manner in which Sharath has written both books in the series so far. In fact, I would even go far enough to recommend this book to anybody who has actually read/seen the great epic and has disliked it. I challenge them to read these books and then tell me that they still find it boring, or even worse, they find a lot of incidents and characters wrong in the story itself.

Sharath seems to have taken it upon himself to ensure that readers see this great epic in a completely new light and rather than justifying all the incidents under the guise of destiny or whatever is pre-ordained shall happen irrespective of anybody’s best efforts otherwise, the author has clearly laid out a plan where all that happens in the book somehow appears to be the ‘master-plan’ of a character. Who that is, he reveals in the last four pages of The Rise of Hastinapur.

Suffice to say that anybody who has read the first book must compulsorily read this one, no two ways about that. And even if you haven’t read the first book I would strongly encourage you to buy both books and read them back to back immediately. If not for anything else, at least to enjoy a masterful retelling of an all-time favorite story, that of the Mahabharata.

The following are a few things which I thoroughly enjoyed in the book (spoiler-free points below) –

From the story thread involving Amba

  • Amba’s moves to gain Vichitraveerya’s trust and get back into the political scheme of things at Hastina.
  • The reason as to why Amba had to finally leave the court of Hastina.
  • Amba’s desperate attempts to extract revenge from Bhishma.
  • Amba’s revenge takes a completely different hue, albeit with the same consequences for Bhishma.

From the story thread involving Kunti

  • Durvasa’s role in Pritha (Kunti)’s life.
  • The interesting story behind the birth of Kunti’s first child, who in due course of time would grow up to become Karna.

From the story thread involving Gandhari

  • The interesting story of the ‘gold standard’ being followed in Gandhar and how it was smartly used by Hastinapur politically.
  • The role that the Celestials had to play in Gandhari’s life.
  • The usage of official letters as a medium to communicate the esacalating tensions between Gandhara and Hastinapur.
  • Gandhari’s ability to ‘see’ things even though she ‘cannot’.
  • The seeds of revenge sown in Gandhari’s mind, a crucial point for moving the story of the Great Epic forward.

And finally

The last chapter of the book leaves readers a little breathless, when they come to know who it is that has been moving the pieces of this gigantic chessboard so far. However, the intentions behind these moves are still a little baffling, especially coming from this character.

All said and done, the end of the second book in this series leaves readers licking their lips, with parched throats waiting for the next book in the series to be published. And going by the two books, the rest of the series promises to be mind-blowing, to say the least.

Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon [Link].

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I was selected as an ‘early reader’ of this book by the author, however, the review itself is unbiased and uninfluenced by him in any form or fashion.

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