Is it wrong and/or patronising to compare one writer to another (more famous) one ? I hope Mr. Sanghi won’t take it amiss if I say that his novel reads rather like a desi Dan Brown.
History meets crime, ancient texts meet technology, with lots of chase scenes and action and drama and rushing at great speed from one end of India to the other.
Attractive history buff becomes reluctant super hero.
And everyone is super clever, super knowledgeable about subjects like mythology, and numerology, and Sanskrit shlokas, and religion, and ancient history.
I began the book on a long flight, and reading well over half of it in one long, uninterrupted go was good. You get into the rhythm of the book, and the rather complicated plot is easier to follow. Resuming the book once I was back home was more difficult, all that remembering what had happened and where we were in the plot. You see, like a Dan Brown novel, you get swept away by the story, and the speed and the drama, and only question the logic afterwards.
The book tells the tale of a mystery surrounding the legend/history of Krishna, and the author, parallels the historical texts with his modern story, with each chapter opening with an extract from the Mahabharata. Initially this was a clever device but I must confess to tiring of it after a while. Since I am not familiar enough with the detail of the Mahabharata, I sometimes skipped the longer passages, but always for an ostensibly good reason, I assure you – namely, to get back to the modern action-packed drama.
Because action there certainly is.
This is an India I have never seen or experienced.
A world of brilliant academics, of professional divers exploring lost cities off the Gujarat coast, of people who can fight, and run, and hire planes, and escape from the police, and it’s all jolly exciting.
The author is obviously hugely learned, and very passionate about his research, and wishes to share as much knowledge with us as possible. This is admirable, but it does – oh dear, I do so hate to sound churlish – but it does all get a bit too much at times.
There is simply just too much information.
Too many Vedic reference and mathematical puzzles that everyone seems able to solve.
Riddles and codes and ancient texts that everyone seems able to understand instinctively.
Perhaps it’s sour grapes on my part but much of the time, I felt distinctly stupid reading this book, because I know I would have been useless at helping the handsome historian Ravi Mohan Saini solve his pan-India mystery.
The downside of trying to give his readers so much information is that oftentimes Mr. Sanghi’s characters speak in less than authentic sounding voices.
Take a conversation like the one below, for example…
Still, it’s a gripping plot, with one very clever twist half-way through which I am absolutely not going to tell you, as it will ruin the book for you.
I enjoyed the book, I truly did, and wanted to know what happened, but at times there was just too much information to absorb.
Published in 2102 by Westland, the paperback costs Rs 250.