Loyalty Net – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: Mumbai. 2150 AD. India is the world’s biggest economic powerhouse, a global supplier of robots. At the seat of all development in the country is the IIR, the Indian Institute of Robotics. Its word is gospel. Its status is unmatched.

Then Anil Srinivasan, one of the Institute’s premier roboticists, gets murdered at a public function. Poisoned by his own robot.

The case falls into the lap of Dhaval Malik at the CBI. With his dismal case record, not solving this will mean demotion, even suspension. But the people in power counter him at every step. As the investigation leads him deeper and deeper into the maze-like edifice on which the country is built, Dhaval finds himself cornered. Desperate. Helpless.

Aid arrives, though, from an unlikely source: the robots themselves.

The journey takes Dhaval into the dark locked rooms of the IIR, where old, musty secrets linger. It takes him into the robot’s mind, and it is here that he must find his answers. In silicon perceptrons. In flashes of electric signals that create emotion and thought in the machines. In the holes of the Loyalty Net, a neural network that prevents a robot from ever hurting a human being. In his grandfather’s memory. In himself.

Science fiction and mystery combine seamlessly in this futuristic novel. Read it today.


The first thing that strikes you about Sharath Komarraju’s Loyalty Net is how he has managed to take on Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (Wiki link to article), make it his own and weaves what essentially is a good old murder mystery around it. Being part of Sharath’s mailing list I know that he is a fan of Asimov and his writing and therefore it comes as no surprise that he does complete justice to this fundamental tenet of Asimov’s stories involving robots and robotics in general. And given that this book was Sharath’s debut I have to admit that I was quite blown away by the sheer professionalism with which this book has been written with. Not at any point in time does the book give away the fact that it was at its heart an ‘amateurish’ attempt as Sharath himself has stated more than quite a few times in the past.

Am not devoting this review to the plot itself as I am sure there will be more than enough reviews about the same, but am going to dwell on the overarching narrative arc and the broader issues that Loyalty Net deals with. Set in a utopian (or was it dystopian) future where India is ‘the superpower’ of the world courtesy its supremacy in the field of robotics and related technologies, the author questions the very basis on which this supremacy has been built on, the strictly guarded secrecy around the robotic brain, the neural networks which are built around the robotic brain and how the country carefully guards its ‘knowledge hoard’ in this regard.

Sharath raises important fundamental questions about how ethical India is when it comes to hoarding all robotic related knowledge with itself, and also wonders as to what would happen if these secrets somehow got out. Keeping the murder of an eminent roboticist as the backdrop against which the rest of the events pan out, he makes some extremely pertinent points about how unwise it is for India, or for that matter, any country to keep information which could prove beneficial to the entire world, under wraps. While it makes immense economic sense to do so the fact that it would be extremely unethical and fairly harmful to humans as a species in the long run is something that he subtly tries to bring out as the story unfolds.

On more than one occasion in this book, Sharath makes us readers wonder about this situation and question ourselves about the merits and demerits of such knowledge hoarding. And to his credit he doesn’t patronize us readers with an answer to these questions as they are inherently personal and each reader is surely bound to have his or her own correct answers to them. And that is where the author scores more than a few brownie points.

If you are a fan of science fiction, Sharath Komarraju or well written books in general, then you surely have to pick up this book and immediately read it.

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


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

Donoor’s Curse – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: Devdutt Pathak likes to be left alone. Alone with his whiskey. Alone with his memories. Memories of a pregnant woman and her child dying on his operating table. Memories of his practicing license being revoked. Memories of being suspended. Ostracized.

Until the death of his godfather, Jahangir Khan, shakes him out of his stupor.

The world says that it’s an accident, but something deep within calls out to Dev. Aided by the clues Jahangir leaves him, he sets out to unravel the truth. What was Baba after? What did he want? How did he live? And how did he die? Most of all, what did he have to do with this tiny mist-covered village called Donoor, where dark shapes lurk behind every shadow?

Donoor. The village of twins. The village of mysterious deaths. The village of curses. The village which, like Dev, wants to be left alone.

In his quest for answers, Dev must face faceless demons. Some of them leap at him from within the thickening fog. Some reside in the recesses of his mind. Some whisper to him frailly, in forgotten voices, from the long dead past. But they all watch him. He must look them in the eye. And not flinch.

A thriller that will surprise and delight you at every turn.


Very few books have the ability to capture your attention right from the first page, the first paragraph and ensure that you don’t put the book down until you have completed it. For sure, Donoor’s Curse by Sharath Komarraju is one of them. And this from somebody who doesn’t even particularly like the genre it belongs to – paranormal mysteries.

Dev Pathak, as the blurb states, is a broken man. Carrying too much baggage from his past professional life, he is trying to put back his life together again when the death of his godfather jolts him into reality (or something like that). One thing leads to another and pretty soon Dev finds himself in the mysterious village of Donoor. And does the village ‘welcome’ him in style or what.

What happens to Dev in  Donoor, whether the questions regarding his godfather’s accident are answered or not, and whether Dev manages to put his life back on track or not are some of the conundrums the rest of the plot resolves. Suffice to say that the plot itself, the setting Donoor, the characters and their back stories, all of these manage to pull readers into the mysterious mist that always seems to cover the village.

More than anything else, this book is about whether the protagonist manages to fight the demons of his past, how he goes about it while suspending his disbelief of what is happening around him, whether he manages to navigate the mine-field of difficulties and opportunities in his path ahead, and whether things manage to reach a logical conclusion at all. In a nutshell, this book is a lovely read to an already wonderful portfolio of books authored by Sharath Komarraju.

Click here to purchase the book from Amazon (e-book only) [Amazon link].


A review copy of this book was given to me by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

The Crows of Agra – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: The year is 1562 A.D. Just into his twentieth year, Akbar readies himself to emerge from behind the veil and stake his claim to the Mughal throne.

But the figure of his regent, Bairam Khan, looms large in his path. After an exchange of blows and wits, Bairam Khan is subdued. Akbar forgives him, and forces upon him a pilgrimage to Mecca. On the eve of his departure, Bairam Khan is found murdered in his chamber.

With the help of Mahesh Das — a Brahmin who Akbar has befriended — Akbar must find out who killed Bairam Khan. But in the insidious Mughal court — a hotbed of intrigue and suspicion — danger lurks at every step. One false step could cost them their lives.


With this book author Sharath Komarraju takes on the much loved characters of Akbar and Birbal and tries to plot an origin story of their relationship. I am more than sure that all of us as children have heard at least one or more story of the wonderful little riddles and problems that Akbar poses for Birbal (possibly his favorite courtier) and how Birbal in his own whimsical, quirky and idiosyncratic ways solves them. However, this book has a more serious issue which Mahesh Das (who goes on to become Birbal) has to solve at the behest of his emperor Akbar.

As the blurb states, the book deals with the murder of Bairam Khan, Akbar’s regent who is almost like a father figure to the emperor. Mahesh Das, who by sheer dint of fate (and a few machinations of his own) ends up being in the same building where the crime occurs and is therefore pitch forked into the  middle of all the action and is tasked by Akbar to find out who the murderer is. More than just the identity of the murderer himself, there is more at stake for Mahesh Das as the emperor’s mandate is crystal clear – find the murderer if you intend to continue as a courtier in my court.

Given the desperate situation he finds himself in Mahesh Das uses his wits and smarts and begins investigating the murder itself. And he stumbles upon suspect after suspect who has enough and more motives and probably even the means to have committed the murder. It doesn’t help that almost all the inmates of the palace where Bairam Khan was murdered seem to have had more than one bone to pick with him. Suffice to say that Mahesh Das has to bring his “A Game” to the table to solve the crime.

Does he manage to solve the crime, does he manage to become Akbar’s courtier, and how does Mahesh Das become Birbal forms the crux of the rest of the book. Suffice to say that Sharath Komarraju lives up to his already high standards of penning eminently enjoyable murder mysteries with The Crows of Agra as well.

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


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

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.


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].


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.

The Winds of Hastinapur – Sharath Komarraju – A second reading


Given that I am going to read the second book of The Hastinapur series by Sharath Komarraju (The Rise of Hastinapur) sometime soon as an ‘early reader’ of the book, I thought I would quickly re-read the first one in the series The Winds of Hastinapur so that I could brush up my memories of the story so far. And man, did this book take away my breath yet again or what.

As I have mentioned in my earlier review [Link to review], the first half of the book sets the stage for what is truly an unique retelling of the Mahabharata, reimagining the origins to quite a large extent while staying extremely honest both to the epic itself and the characters as well. While the character motivations for their actions are probably a little different when compared to the original epic, the fact that they don’t stray too far from the original premise of Veda Vyasa’s epic shows the reverence that the author has for it.

The following are some of the more striking incidents in the plot and its treatment that stayed back with me during the second reading of this book.

1- The extreme sacrifices made by the Ladies of the River in ensuring that they lived out their lives burdened with the memories of all the earlier Ladies of the River before them. Even to imagine a situation like this gives me a headache. As it is, memories (good or bad) from one’s own lifetime are bad enough to give me a headache, then just imagine living out a lifetime with memories of more than one previous lives.

2- Devavrata’s farsightedness and ability to put the greater good of the greater number of people when he decided to leave Meru and search his destiny with his father Shantanu in Hastina.

3- Satyavati, also called Matsyagandha, her thoughts on virginity and to paraphrase “She knew now that that was virginity; being pure in thought and action, being unafraid as long as your actions have nothing immoral about them; and taking pride in the gifts that the Gods have given you, and spit back on the shame that the world insisted on heaping upon you.

4- Ironical situations – The price Satyavati pays for having extracted the promise from Devavrata, despite having both her sons ascend the throne of Hastina, both of them didn’t even last for more than couple of years as the ruler. Despite keeping his oath of never ascending the throne of Hastina himself and ruling the kingdom, the irony of Devavrata having to run the kingdom all by himself for more than his fair share of time.

5-In case you wondered why the book is called what it is called, its last line has the answer to this question.

In a nutshell, if you are still wondering if this book is worth reading, then you just haven’t read either my original review or this post carefully enough.

Don’t wait anymore, purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].