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Book Review: Govinda by Krishna Udayasankar

Title: Govinda
Author: Krishna Udayasankar
Paperback: 458 pages
Publisher: Hachette India (July 2012)
Genre: Mythology
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Goodreads)
Aryavarta – the ancient realm of the noble.
For generations, the Firstborn dynasty of scholar-sages, descendants of Vasishta Varuni and protectors of the Divine Order on earth, has dominated here. For just as long, the Angirasa family of Firewrights, weapon-makers to the kings and master inventors, has defied them. In the aftermath of the centuries-long conflict between the two orders, the once-united empire of Aryavarta lies splintered, a shadow of its former glorious self.

Now, the last Secret Keeper of the Firewrights is dead, killed by a violent hand, and the battle for supreme power in the empire is about to begin.

As mighty powers hurtle towards a bloody conflict, Govinda Shauri, cowherd-turned-prince and now Commander of the armies of Dwaraka, must use all his cunning to counter deception and treachery if he is to protect his people and those whom he loves.

But who holds the key to the fantastic and startling knowledge of the Firewrights, which in the wrong hands will bring doom upon the empire? And does Govinda have it in him to confront the dark secrets of his past and discover the true meaning of being Arya, of being noble?

My Review:

Cover: Nothing great but not so bad either.

Paper and font: Smell-Worthy with a print that is easy on the eyes.

Readability, language: Reads well and language is easy on the mind.

Why did I choose this book: I couldn’t let another perspective to the Mahabharata pass me by.

I grew up to the Mahabharata on TV but as time went by I started to question the epic as I knew it. Then last year I read ‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and saw the epic in new light from Panchaali’s perspective. When I came across Krishna Udayasankar’s ‘Govinda’ I couldn’t give another perspective a miss. A story about a Govinda who does not have any super powers was very compelling.

The main characters are the usual Mahabharata ones, only here Krishna is more predominant in ‘Govinda’. Krishna Udayasankar’s book gives a deeper inside into the enigma of Krishna, a more real and practical perspective compared to the usual magical one. Seeing him as a man and understanding the reasons behind his magic made the Mahabharata so much more believable as an epic.

Udayasankar also has some very thought provoking takes on incidents and people of the Mahabharata – the man Panchaali truly loved, how she landed up with Dharma even though she had been won by Partha, the kind of man Dharma really was and the truth behind Dhulyodhana’s intentions and motivations, and the lead up to Dharma becoming Emperor and real people and reasons behind why he became emperor.

Even though it is the same old Mahabharata with the same core story, Udayasankar couldn’t have made it more different with her explanations and reasoning behind plots and situations. Krishna, his intentions, his mind , his heart and just why he did certain things are finally explained in a light and a world I could believe.

Udayasankar has done a good job of describing the kingdoms of those times, the terrain, the places, the people and their lives. Dwaraka does feel like utopia where everyone is happy and content. Indraprastha the mirror of Indra’s palace as it is supposed to be in the epic.

What I loved best was the premise that these men were not Gods but only human in all they did. Udayasankar knows her history well and her research shows. It was an enjoyable retelling of the great epic of India the Mahabharata and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, I just the author doesn’t take too long.

Definitely a book to read if you want a different perspective to the epic we all grew up too!

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

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