Sultan of Delhi: Ascension by Arnab Ray
When a path is forged in blood, it is hard to find peace.
The son of a penniless refugee from Lahore, Arjun Bhatia has worked his way up from being an arms smuggler in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh to the most influential power-broker in Delhi.
But when the shadows of the past, of a friend he has lost forever and of a woman he can never be with, finally catch up to him, Arjun finds himself fighting the biggest battle of his life. For at stake is not just his iron hold over the government, but something even bigger—- his family…and his soul.
Spanning five decades and two generations, Sultan of Delhi: Ascension is an explosive saga of ambition, greed, love and passion.
Title: Sultan of Delhi: Ascension
Author: Arnab Ray
Paperback: 301 pages
Publisher: Hachette (October 26th 2016)
Genre: Indian Fiction, Crime
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India
Cover: Very Gangster!
Narration: Lovely smell and easy to read text
Readability, language: Easy with Lots of Desi cuss words
I met Arnab Ray at the IndiBlogger Conference sometime ago, it was the first time I had met him or had even heard of him but by the end of his talk, he had made an impression. I remember his wit and his own particular brand of humour. I’d enjoyed listening to him and so, when ‘Sultan of Delhi: Ascension’ came along I grabbed the book.
The Sultan of Delhi is the story of a sickly child who survives the journey to India during partition, and goes on to become one of the most powerful men in Delhi. Arun Bhatia has a drive to become someone and this drive takes him from being a mechanic to becoming a guns smuggler and then on to bigger pastures of Lyten’s Delhi, politics and business.
Some books manage to encapsulate the story in all it’s elements – title, cover, blurb and pages; The Sultan of Delhi is one of those books. The title is appropriate in that this is the story of the rise of a man to power; the cover shows the rugged drawing of a man holding a gun behind him, the image of a man who holds power and knows he holds power. And then there is the blurb that tells you the whole story and yet makes you want to read the book.
The plot is very Godfatherish, though I didn’t feel so while reading and realised only in hind sight, which says a lot for the writing. The plot feels new and punchy, Arnab Ray has delivered a complex plot simply, without any unnecessary complexities.
The story shifts from Lahore, to Uttar Pradesh and then Delhi as it unfolds over 50 years. Starting out at partition Arnab Ray draws a detailed background to his story right up to the 90’s, each place and setting adding to the tale, making it feel all to real.
Characters are the Core
The protagonist, Arjun Bhatia is a bad guy, it’s a fact established early in the book but the various facets of a bad guy are fleshed out well and I found myself feeling for and empathising with the character, and sometimes even rooting for him.
There are three main female characters, the wife, the mistress and the daughter. Each one of them is shown as their true selves, with both weaknesses and strengths. And the author brings out a lot of Arjun’s character through his relationship with them. For instance, when things go downhill, even though it is his daughter who delivers the worse blow, along with the hurt, Arnab Ray captures the pride a father feels for his daughter too.
Apart from the women who are given equal strength and voice as the male ones in the narrative, there are other characters that stand out. Arjun Bhatia’s sons and their friends as the typical rich spoilt kids with an unreal sense of reality. The ex-cop turned hitman with a wry sense of humour… The characters bring this novel to life.
Story and Style
The book is structured in three parts – Arjun’s initial years as a refugee and a gun runner, his move to Delhi and his rise to power and finally his battle to save his family and empire. The book starts out at a good pace and stays fast paced right up to the end. The author has tied up all loose ends and yet has left enough open to weave in part 2.
Arnab Ray’s language and writing style is very Hinglish, and I could connect and relate to it with ease. Be warned this book has a lot of profanity in it, in the native tongue too, but it adds that element to the telling, that punch that would be lost in translation.
Having picked up the book based on my only ever meeting with the author, the book delivered all I expected of Arnab Ray. Now, I can’t wait to read his three other books and this one’s sequel. (Before I started reading Sultan of Delhi: Ascension, I hadn’t realised this was a two part book, so to me the end seemed perfect, it felt so right. Then I realised there will be a second part, and now I’m all excited for it.)
Sultan of Delhi: Ascension is super masala fast paced read, perfect to settle down with on a lazy afternoon. You are going to want to read this at one go. Recommended if you like Indian Contemporary fiction filled with action and drama.
About the Author:
Arnab Ray, better known as Greatbong, is one of India’s most widely read bloggers who blogs at Random Thoughts Of A Demented Mind. He is known for his sarcastic takes on the Indian film industry, Indian politics and society in general. He is presently employed as a research scientist at the University of Maryland and resides in the suburbs of Washington DC. Sultan of Delhi: Ascension is his fourth book.
Website │ GoodReads │ Twitter – @greatbong
January 29, 2017 2 Comments