Shatrujeet Nath sent me a copy of his latest book, Warlord of Ayodhya: Rebellion, about 6 months ago and I promised him I’d read and review it as soon as possible. But then, the phase happened and I couldn’t get to it, given how badly the following months went. A few weeks ago, however, I pulled it out of my TBR cart, silently promising myself and the author that I would get to it soon. And then something else happened: the move. But there was progress this time, because while the move was happening, I was reading this book. I brought it with me, and what a wise decision it was!
I’ll talk more about the move in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned? 😀
We’ve always read about Lord Rama, the King of Ayodhya, the God, and his exile from his home. But we know next to nothing about the man who looked after Ayodhya while Rama was away. The righteous, loyal brother who refused to take the title of King in his brother’s absence. The man who never wanted the throne but upon whose shoulders the responsibility was thrust because a mother wanted the best for her son. What did Bharat do while Rama was away? How did he, with Shatrughna, manage the kingdom? What did he have to go through to keep all the cogs running?
Shatrujeet Nath takes us through all of this in Warlord of Ayodhya: Rebellion. Be it political intrigue or familial animosities or kingly ambitions or lack thereof or just doing the right thing by everyone involved – we see shades of Bharat the Ramayana has never told us. Because let’s be honest, it is called the Ramayana, after all. But – and I don’t have to specifically say this – Bharat is a key character from the epic and to see layers to him and everything he has to handle and go through is something to behold. We see him as a King, as a courtier, as a father, as a husband, as a disgruntled, angry son, as a brother, as a nephew, and so much more.
Shatrujeet Nath’s writing turns Bharat into a real person for you. As you read his story, you start rooting for him. You want him to win and you also want him to learn the ropes, because as much as he doesn’t want to be King, he is. And with the help of trusted people around him – first and foremost being Shatrughna – you begin to hope that he gets there. You begin to see yourself as one of those trusted people. It probably isn’t a stretch when I say that the brother Shatrughna and the author Shatrujeet are comparable, because the author tells Bharat’s story like a brother would. The writing is compassionate, it looks at characters with a keen, incisive eye that you’d probably not find anywhere, and it brilliantly weaves military and administrative strategy into the strictly personal.
The author’s hold on the language is obvious in the way the story flows from perspective to perspective, without a hitch. And this is saying something, given the number of characters there are. Not just in Ayodhya, but in other kingdoms as well, where the political intrigue and the skirmishes are bound to take place. The action sequences are thrilling in the way they send blood pumping through your veins, making you want to be in the middle of the action. And in a way you are, because the writing transports you into a time far away from here, yet not so far.
A fantastic experience in all, reading this book, and I cannot wait for the next book in this series. I’d recommend you read it too, because oh boy, does it pack a punch!
I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes from the book:
Grief, like rage, doesn’t know discretion.
The harshest lesson life teaches parents is that they can’t always guarantee their children’s happiness. The same way, a King cannot always bring his people comfort.
Everything else can be learned. But not goodness. That has to come naturally. That is why it is such an important qualification.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
P.S. Please go read this book ASAP! It’s SO GOOD!