52. Book Review By Zahid Ahmed – The Epic of Kautilya (Born to be King): By Deepak Thomas

Book Review  – The Epic of Kautilya by Deepak Thomas – One of the best fantasy fictions about kingdom tales

Considering the take on review, I would love to initiate with the cover. Often fantasy books have appealing covers with images of queer creatures, heavy backdrop, and something that seems far from the human vista. I too loved the cover of the book. At first I thought that it is a 3D cover. However, one confused me – Born To Be King – is written in heavy font, yeah…you are thinking right. I took it as a title of the book. But it is just a statement supporting the title The Epic of Kautilya, means the novel is based on a person know by Kautilya. Anyway leaving the title and cover issue up here, I am drifting towards the main review.

The story of the novel is about a girl, who also happens to be a princess, called Kautilya. The placing of the time and place of the novel is somewhere in the primitive India around mythological time. In the support is the kingdom Bharat and in the end there is a mention of Sri Lanka. Born to be King is a defining statement in the novel, but the dilemma is who is born to be a king, this girl Kautilya or someone else?

Before that let me take you to the outline of the story. Kautilya and her five brothers are born out of birds owing to some spiritual and magical ritual. Why? That’s another story, you can find the detailing the book. Thank god, none of the characters in the story are portrayed as Greek gods. They were gullible and very much Indian. Yes, I would say that the story is inspired by some Hollywood movies, but not the complete one. Can’t help! With fantasy fiction, comes a familiar sense of characters and backdrops and mini stories and much more. That’s how fantasy world fiction work or look like.

Soon after the murder of her father Kautilya finds herself in lurch and revolts against her brothers, who in return retaliate by putting her into prison. From there she escapes and manages to be with apes, the bitter enemies of humans. From there the story is of rising and implementing knowledge which she gathered at schooling. So, who is going to be a superior one, as the fight is more of sibling rivalry than for the throne or avenging someone’s murder. Other than Kautilya, there are scores of characters, and each one is given a different role and persona. They don’t overlap but sure to meet at crossroads inevitable. This novel is a heady mix of many, like love, revenge, humanity, manhood, sacrifice, battlegrounds and much more. So much blending is pure fun to read. I loved reading it, especially after that prison episode. There are many concurrent themes in the novel that seem to have been crossing each other from time to time, for instance fighting with the enemies but at the same thinking that they (apes) too deserved a pie of life. I particularly found that great kingdoms are formed in the aftermath of revolts and protests.

Narration of the story is fantastic, and fast-paced. Since it is a fantasy fiction, I would like not to go for the fact checks. Characterization of the girl Kautilya is apt, however I wished if her enemies more explicit. Anyway, all is good in the end. I dint find any grammatical or typo errors in the book,the writing style of the author is creditable.

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