Rise of The Grey Prince – Arka Chakrabarti – Book Review


RiseOfTheGreyPrinceGoodreads blurb: That cursed night at Nisarga had revealed the true reason behind his father’s sacrifice and his own dark past. Each revelation now draws Agni into the sublime world of secrets. With Vrish and Guru Sidak by his side, fighting the daggers from the past and winning over the opponents of the present, somewhere deep down, he knows that his journey has just begun.

The other scarred prince walks the ashes of his reality. Haunted by the glimpses of truth the same night, Yani had but one choice to survive. His unknowing steps, trapped in cruel games of ancient powers had led him to a truth, a truth which shall mould a good man in the clay of misfortune, hate and lust. Such is the world of Gaya and thus shall be the Rise of the Grey Prince the one torn between the darkness of evil and a lone ray of hope. 

———————-

Taking off from where The Secrets of the Dark leaves us, Rise of the Grey Prince almost immediately picks up action with Agni, Vrish and Guru Sidak making their way out of Nisarga and trying to get across the sea to the Land of the Setting Sun, Agni’s homeland. Their journey is fraught with danger and they are relentlessly being pursued by the Nimit, a mysterious group which is tasked to ensure that Agni doesn’t succeed in his quest.

In parallel, Agni’s old friend, Prince Yani of Nisarga also begins to take charge of his own life after having lived under his father King Adhiratha’s shadow all his life so far. In fact some of the decisions and consequent steps he takes are nothing short of revolutionary and game changing in every sense of the term. This character comes into his own in this book and makes for a wonderful addition to the already stellar cast in the series so far. In fact, the ‘double gambit’ sequence (which I will not reveal any more of as it would end up being a spoiler) is wonderful testimony to the fact that Yani well and truly makes a mark for himself as far as the proceedings are concerned.

The only gripe I have with this book is that the proceedings in the Land of the Setting Sun are short-changed to a very large extent and the stories of Princess Lysandra and the Kingdom of Leu are barely even mentioned. Yes, while I understand that the action picked up a lot of steam and pace in the Land of the Rising Sun with Agni’s journey and Yani getting well and truly embroiled in the thick of the action, but the author could have probably kept the action moving on the other side as well, even at the cost of making the book a little bigger than it is. In fact, at the end of the book, one is left wondering what exactly is happening in the Land of the Setting Sun while all of this action is happening in the East.

The story itself is quite well structured and it is obvious that Arka Chakrabarti has done his homework quite well in terms of how he wanted to present this wonderful yarn of Gaya, its origins, and its current state of affairs. Wonderful usage of sleights of hand, palace intrigues, political skullduggery and good old fashioned chivalry and bravery ensure that the somewhat complicated plot doesn’t quite feel heavy for regular readers. For sure I will pick up the third and subsequent books in this series as this is something that cannot be left halfway through, the Saga of Agni has to continue and be read in its entirety.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

———————-

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me as part of the Book Review Tour for the series of books conducted by b00k r3vi3ws, a book blogger whose work I immensely enjoy.

Author Details

Advertisements

The Secrets Of The Dark – Arka Chakrabarti – Book Review


TheSecretsOfTheDarkGoodreads blurb: Is one born with his destiny or does he forge it?

In the mystical land of Gaya, two prophecies bind the fate of men and empires alike. The Destroyer born from the royal seed on the Land of the Setting Sun shall bring the empires down, or so has been foretold.

In between the Destroyer and the world stand the Seven Guardians of Gaya, guarding the realm of man. A king, a father, defies the Seven and fate itself to save the last drop of his blood and prince Agni grows in the Land of the Rising Sun, exiled from his own people, unaware of his past.

Losing the woman he loved most to the shadows in the dark, Agni is thrown into a whirlpool of events that he neither knows, nor understands. His quest for vengeance brings him to the doorstep of a secret that will shatter the very foundation of beliefs of a world.

Can Agni avert his destiny? Can he uncover the truth about the Seven and the prophecies, now hidden behind a veil of ignorance?

The secrets of the dark are sometimes so terrible that they are better left unsaid.

——————–

In this first book of what promises to be a good series, The Saga of Agni, the author Arka Chakrabarti takes all the ingredients of a fantasy fiction novel, a prophecy (actually more than one, three in fact), a chosen one, warring kingdoms, brave princes and princesses, troubled kings, conniving politicians, a mythical land, magical creatures wielding awesome powers; puts them all together and brews a nice concoction called The Secrets of the Dark.

Agni, the main protagonist is quite happy with his life as the ward of Prince Yani of Himadri in the Land of the Rising Sun. He is content being the friend of Vrish and the sweetheart of Malini when his life is turned upside down by the explosion that kills Vrish and Malini’s father and more so when it is discovered that the explosion was not accidental but was intentional. This sets in motion a chain of events where Agni and Vrish set off on a journey to avenge the death of the people they loved the most.

What Agni and Vrish don’t know is that this journey serves a bigger purpose; that of fulfilling Agni’s eventual destiny which even he himself is not made aware of yet.

On the other side of Gaya, in the Land of the Setting Sun, the Kingdom of Leu is attacked by marauders and the army of the guardians who had earlier sent an ultimatum to King Crixus asking him to abdicate the throne in their favor. Princess Lysandra leads an army towards the port city of Alexandria which has been overrun by the invaders. What happens of her exploits on the battlefield forms another portion of the narrative.

What I particularly liked about the book was the scale on which the events were dealt with; large. The author clearly doesn’t believe in half measures and has gone all out to create a world with multiple kingdoms, the relations between all of them, major and minor cities and maps even. He tackles multiple threads of the narrative with ease while ensuring that all of them keep moving at a brisk pace without slacking up even a little bit. Even the small portions involving the Guardians of Gaya are dealt with using a good amount of caution and mystery so that the over-arching plot of the series is not revealed in great detail, while revealing just enough to keep the readers interested in the overall series. For a first book, this is truly a lovely attempt and for sure, will keep readers interested in how the rest of the Saga of Agni eventually pans out.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

———————-

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me as part of the Book Review Tour for the series of books conducted by b00k r3vi3ws, a book blogger whose work I immensely enjoy.

Author Details

 

The Winner’s Curse – Dee Walker – Book Review


TheWinnersCurseGoodreads blurb: A political thriller about national ID numbers, power and greed.

Orphan Harsh makes it to the billionaire club with a burning vision, sheer intellect and the blessings of his political Godfather. The favors must now be paid back through a huge Guru Dakshina. To honour his Master’s wish, Harsh, with the help of his fellow IITians, sets out to create a never-seen-before governance technology around the national ID numbers, that will change the face of democratic India.

Everything is at stake: money, reputations, egos and morals. Even lives.

Will they succumb to insatiable greed in the murky games of politics, backstabbing and subterfuge or will they be redeemed by the ‘Ten Commandments’ that once forged their ideals at college?

If you thought that supreme technology and unalloyed power can bring lasting change or that e-governance and transparency can address the ills of our system, The Winner’s Curse will force you to think again. For what’s at stake is: YOU.

The Winner’s Curse: the turbulent voyage of talent and intellect in the morass of turpitude.

—————–

I don’t know what it was about this book, but for whatever reason it didn’t quite hook me right from the beginning. While the concept of creating something of the magnitude of Jan Shakti for the greater good of the nation and its people, using technology, while having an ulterior motive of conducting private surveillance on a select group of people sounds quite intriguing and lip-smacking, I don’t know why but the entire premise of the book didn’t quite work for me. Maybe it was because of how simplistically the entire premise was presented, or maybe it was because of how all the characters were painted in plain shades of white or black with hardly any grey characters in the plot, but neither the plot nor the protagonists (or for that matter the antagonists) worked for me.

Starting with Harsh Mittal, the self-anointed conscience keeper of the nation who based on instructions from his political godfather, the Master setting off on what is probably the most ambitious National Id Number project that the world has ever seen, The Winner’s Curse takes us on a ride which involves corrupt self-serving politicians, crooked businessmen who will go to any lengths to win a round against their business rivals, corrupt bureaucrats who will do anything to make a quick buck and various other types of clichéd characters that we see in movies and hear about in almost all news channels of the day.

And then there is the holier-than-thou character of Kamal, Harsh’s best friend from IIT who belongs to the other extreme end of the spectrum. He is the voice of conscience to people in materialistic pursuits like Harsh and in fact does play a pivotal role in Harsh doing what he finally ends up doing.

Add in the mandatory masala elements like an ‘unholy’ relationship between two characters, one failed IITian making it really big in the US, a melodramatic ending with one the main characters dying, and lo and behold, you have the perfect recipe for a blockbuster, right. Well, not quite, at least not in the case of The Winner’s Curse.

The Princess in Black – Upendra Dharmadhikari – Book Review


the-princess-in-black

Book blurb from indiabookstore : The Taj Mahal is going to be blown off and with it the visiting ex – President of USA. Or so has been impeccably planned by Major Salim Khan, an undercover ISI operative.

The only clue that the intelligence agencies have is the enigmatic Object No. 27, a rare Mughal relic that they don’t have much information about. History Professor Narayan Shastri, along with the best men from Indian Intelligence, try to unlock the code.

And then there is Saima, the mysterious beauty who found Object No 27 in the first place. She and Professor Shastri travel through the annals of a history rich with deceit-bloody battles of conquests, the satin veil of treachery and even the elegant, imperious walls built of red sandstone and white marble-to know more of the impending attack and each other more deeply.

Can they stop Major Khan from unleashing his act of terror on the marble monument of love? Precious hands of time are ticking away – Tick. Tick. Tick.
———————-
As the book blurb clearly brings out this book belongs to what I call “The Da Vinci Code” genre. It therefore has all the necessary elements, one protagonist who has the brains and the necessary background required to solve the clues (Prof Narayan Shastri), one protagonist who is unwittingly pulled into the scheme of things (Saima), a couple of cops with troubled pasts, a disaster of large proportions (the impending bombing of the Taj Mahal), a narrative which keeps shuffling between the past and the present (the Mughal empire and some stories from Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Roshanara and Jahanara), a race against time.

Now go ahead and check all the boxes and fill in all the paragraphs with relevant information and lo and behold, you have a customized version of The Da Vinci Code of your own, obviously not as explosive and controversial, but a book from this genre nevertheless.

While the book itself is a competent debut from the authors, the fact that this book and its plot reminded me a little too much of Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s “The Taj Conspiracy” [Link to my review]which was published sometime in early 2013 was something that kept bugging me to no end. And the fact that I absolutely loved that book and its main protagonist was extremely memorable didn’t help this book at all.

Where this book suffers is with the characterization of the protagonists. While Prof Shastri strikes us as someone knowledgable and likeable, he simply doesn’t stay with our subconscious either while reading the book or after it, for that matter. While the authors have attempted to make him an Indian version of Robert Langdon in line with the genre, they haven’t succeeded.

And while the ending was something that I saw coming from a mile away, the book was interesting enough to keep me reading just to see how it would be presented. And just like a complaint that I have with more than a few books by Indian authors in recent days, this one too was just a little too filmy for me to digest. I guess the influence of masala and kitsch movies is showing on how our authors end their books as well. The ending and the fact that there were some logical inconsistencies in one part of the book was also something I found a little too jarring. The editors haven’t quite done a tight job with the manuscript and it shows, at least in one portion of the book.

Would I recommend this book to you? Sure, if you are looking for a quick read, nothing too serious and like reasonably well written predictable thrillers.

Would I strongly recommend it to you? Probably not.

PS: For some reason, this book is not added on Goodreads at all, and that simply doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, who doesn’t add their books to Goodreads nowadays.

PPS: You can purchase the book from Flipkart by clicking on this link [Link]
—————-
This review was commissioned by the author, however, all the views presented here are completely unbiased and my own.

=========

Name The Princess in Black : An unheard story of the Mughals
Author/s Upendra Dharmadhikari
Publisher Srishti Publishers
Year published 2014
ISBN 13 9789382665212
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Flipkart
Amazon link Amazon

Happily Murdered – Rasleen Syal – Book Review


HappilyMurdered

Goodreads blurb: Who killed Gulab Sarin?

The radiant new daughter-in-law of the influential Mehta family dies mysteriously on the very next night of her wedding. The murder is an inside job, the police are certain. It could be anyone, the adulterous husband, conniving in-laws, jealous friend and the love struck ex-fiance. With an aim to save themselves and incriminate others, it is not long before these suspects turn into amateur detectives, hunting for clues and delving into hidden secrets only they can unearth. They coerce, pry and blackmail in an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Will one of these nine unlikely sleuths finally unravel the mystery behind Gulab’s death and avenge it? Or will the truth die as viciously as Gulab?

————-

When Rasleen Syal (@Mystery_Addict) approached me to review her debut novel “Happily Murdered” I immediately jumped at the opportunity as one of my friends and awesome blogger Seeta (The Write Side) had just published a review of the book in which she had recommended the book to anybody who likes a well written murder thriller, and knowing Seeta’s taste in books I had immediately added the book to my To Read list, and as if by divine providence, Rasleen saw my comment on Seeta’s review and immediately contacted me to read and review the book. So, here goes.

The book begins when Gulab Sarin is found murdered on her wedding night and the finger of suspicion points not only at one or two but towards almost all the inhabitants of the Mehta household, the family into which Gulab is married into. Almost all the family members have a ‘bone to pick’ and a valid enough motive to have committed the crime and none of them are above suspicion.

The nine members who were present at the crime scene on the night of the event take it upon themselves to conduct their own preliminary amateur investigations to try and find who killed Gulab. And given that almost everybody who was at the crime scene that night has one or more motives to have killed Gulab and each one suspected the other of having committed the crime meant that there was more than enough friction to create quite a volatile atmosphere in the house.

The author masterfully takes us through the next fourteen days in the household where each member’s relationship with the victim, the dynamics of the same, their history with Gulab and ultimately the reasons for them for being a possible suspect are slowly introduced to the readers. By the time all the characters are introduced and their back stories told, what emerges is a moderately complex web of familial and business relationships and a reasonably colorful past story of Gulab where more than a few characters have strong enough motives to have killed her.

Who killed Gulab Sarin and how is something that I obviously am not going to reveal in this review. But suffice to say that the ending is good enough to warrant the reading of the book itself.

Where the author scores high is the fact that she has taken the Agatha Christie template (that of a family setting, where every member is a suspect and has valid enough motives to have committed the crime) and successfully managed to make it her own with the Mehta and Dulla family saga and the critical role that Gulab Sarin plays in the same. The story begins with the crime itself and ends cleanly with no loose ends left, and that to me is the signature style of an author who knows her craft and also knows how to successfully translate that into action in the form of a novel, a murder mystery no less.

One small gripe I have with this book is that one character who is practically the first that the author introduces to us seems interesting enough, but is soon forgotten and reduced to small mentions in the rest of the book. Was that deliberate or an oversight, we will never know. Having said that, this character does not impede the flow of the narrative in any form or fashion.

Do read this book if you are a fan of well written crime thrillers. What’s more, this book is firmly set in an Indian milieu and that to me is the icing on the cake. So, what are you waiting for, click on the links below to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or from Amazon [Link], whatever fancies you.

————-

Disclaimer: Although this is an ‘author commissioned’ review, all the views presented above are my own and have in no way been influenced by the author.

Disclaimer: By purchasing the books from the links in this post I will earn a small commission, but rest assured, your purchase price is not affected in any way.

==============

Name Happily Murdered
Author/s Rasleen Syal
Publisher Srishti Publishers
Year published 2014
ISBN 13 9789382665182
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Flipkart
Amazon link Amazon