Rise of Kali is the second book in the two book set of Ajaya – Epic of the Kaurava Clan. I had expressed my thoughts on the first book, in my last post.
This book begins from the most infamous, and the most poignant chapter of Mahabharata. The dice game in which Pandavas’ lose their entire wealth, kingdom and eventually they end up losing their wife, by gambling over a dice game orchestrated by Shakuni (who was playing on behalf of the Kauravas).
I start my post with a mention of this episode, is because; if this situation would have been handled in a respectable manner by the Kauravas, probably the entire Kurukshetra war could have been avoided.
Anand Neelakantan in the sequel to Roll of the Dice, of Ajaya – Epic of the Kaurava Clan two book set carries forward the Mahabharata saga and dwells deeper into the lives of Pandavas and the Kauravas. Once the reader is well versed with the characters, their mannerisms and their personal terpitudes, this book reveals the core of every character and reflects the darkness of the soul.
Of course a book on Kurukshetra war is not expected to be mild or an easy read, but Neelakantan divides this book in smaller chapters (85 chapters spread over 500 odd pages) to ensure that every point is registered well and done appropriate justice to.
The prime highlight of this book has to be the situations in which characters find themselves and how do they react to those situations. Their decisions are based on their past, influence, manoeuvring and manipulation by other characters. Vulnerability and indecisiveness of characters and the sinister plans of some of the characters is exposed to the reader with great panache and skill.
Shakuni, whose purpose throughout has been to instigate the greatest war which would destroy Bharatvarsha, strategizes a plan which make both sides feel that war is the only solution. Krishna believes that the world would have to find its route towards Dharma and he is the catalyst responsible to guide the way. The manner in which he behaves during the war could raise multiple questions about the sanctity of his being. Kunti, who has always wanted to see her son on the throne of Hastinapur kingdom reveals new information that changes the entire scope of the story.
There are many other anecdotes that only add to the complexities of the plot, but it’s impossible to get tired of this book. As a reader, I couldn’t wait to flip one page after another. Characters like Eklavya, Khatokacha, Iravan, Bhishma, Drithrashtra, Gandhari, etc. find a fitting end by the end of the book.
I’d like to make a special mention about the final chapter (chapter 85, titled Rise of Kali) of the book. I wouldn’t want to give out spoilers, but I’d like to say; if this book were a play, it was bound to get a standing ovation for this chapter. It explains so much to the reader and leaves the reader with so much to ponder on, simultaneously.
At the end, I’d just like to recommend that the reader might choose to take a small gap between reading Roll of the Dice and Rise of Kali. Although the books are really well written, the second book could get a little heavy for the reader. But, if you’re well versed with reading literary classics or if you’re an avid reader, then I wonder why are you still reading this post and why haven’t you picked up your copy of Roll of the Dice and Rise of Kali already?