Who have not heard of Ashok? An emperor who rose to Imperial Glory on corpses but ‘Kalinga War’ transformed him to ‘Seeker of Peace’. Really? What happened after the war? I liked the way author has put forward the fictional story. So before you start reading the book, I suggest to get a brief info about Ashok. Since only then you will realize how well author has weaved the story without altering the historical facts. And you will be able to appreciate his research for this book.
I really appreciate that author has not called ‘Ashok’ as ‘Ashoka’. He preserved the Indianness by doing so, really loved it. From the beginning story is grilling. Many readers will think that description of war is too repulsive. But I believe it was ‘Bitter Medicine’ for them who thinks war will resolve all the issues. The wrath of weapons, thirst of Imperial Armies and curse of death just causes pains. Few initial chapters would make you believe yes that would have happened even though in back of your mind you know it is fiction. So again kudos to Author.
I liked the way author has put forward pieces of philosophy. Like, the way he has described thoughts on war from winner and looser perspective; discussion of soul with death. I also liked the possible reason which might have instigated Ashok for such blood feud. Fictionally that looks appropriate and even rationally it sounds plausible.
Somewhere, in the middle I thought story lost its focus. As the focus was more on other characters like dragons, sphinx and events like magic display, chanting. I would have loved to see more role of Ashok and His Nine Unknown. It appeared author is fan of Mythology and Harry Potter Series. He could not resist his liking to be put down in the book. This may not have been required considering the fact how well story progress in initial chapters.
My final verdict, I loved reading the book. I liked the cover. Story is smooth and has continuity. It is not about only revenge, it is not about only wars, it is not about only political conspiracies, it is not only mythology or magic. But a good mixture of all in well-presented from. I will give 3.75 Stars to the book. Reason I wanted to see more roles of 9 Unknowns. All the 9 unknowns have not been justified completely. Recommend: Yes, it will keep you grilling till the end. And you will love how author has used historical available fact of Ashok’s Pyre which kept burning for 7 days as final twist in the story.