Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Review: The Fisher Queen's Dynasty by Kavita Kane.

The Plot:
This mythological tale by Kavita Kane is set at the beginning of the Mahabharata and traces the life, the history, the ambitions, and the travails of the woman who is the grand matriarch of this epic story. It is an extraordinary story of Satyavati and how the lineage that originates from King Bharata ends up being carried forward by her alone.  

The story:
Mahabharata is not an alien subject for the lover of mythology but the story of the Fisher Queen Satyavati sure is to many. I had read about her in a passing reference in most books but never a complete book devoted to her. The story of Satyavati and her meteoric rise from the daughter of a chieftain to the queen of the most powerful dynasty and later the realisation of how all her ambitions and struggles have been in vain form the crux of the story. Whether you love her for being a strong woman and a person who fights to get the best out of her life or you hate her for being the beginning of the end, you sure cannot ignore Satyavati. Her story needs to be told and to be read, for it holds a mirror to the modern day dynamics of purpose, prestige, and power.

What I liked:
The author has an innate sense of language that is delightful to read and satisfying to devour! Her choice of words are immaculate and her characters are strong with a mind of their own. The research is exhaustive and it is amazing to see how far back the author has travelled to make this account truly belong to the woman she wishes to chronicle. Many parts of the story were new to me and I had not heard of some of the characters. At the same time, the familiar bits of the story were delivered in a fresh package making this novel a page-turner.
What I also liked about the story is that the author makes no attempt to judge any character and leaves that decision to the reader. To not lead a reader to the conclusion you have in mind can be very tricky and it is commendable that the author manages to stay away from shaping your thoughts for you.   

What I would have liked:
It can be quite a balance to not let research look like it, but the strain of the research did start to show in certain parts. I found myself unwittingly skipping few passages which seemed to stretch too long. Other than that, the narration was flawless.

Final words:
This is a beautiful story, with an great portrayal of a not-so-well-known mythological character. I have read all of Kavita’s previous books and have become a huge fan of her writing. Strong female characters and adept retelling of familiar tales are her forte.
I’d strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story, not just of mythology. Go for it!

The Blurb:

‘I learnt to love like a man—to love without feelings. And I shall never forget this lesson.’

Matsyagandha, Daseyi, Yojanagandha — the queen of Hastinapur, Satyavati. Abandoned as a baby, preyed on by a rishi, she hardens herself, determined that the next time she is with a man, she will be the one to win. And win she does: the throne of Hastinapur for herself, and the promise that her sons will be heirs to the kingdom. But at what cost?

In a palace where she is disdained and scorned, Satyavati must set aside her own loss and pain if she is to play the game of politics. She learns to be ruthless, unscrupulous — traits that estrange her from everyone around. Everyone, except the man she cheated of his birthright.

A piercing, insightful look at the grand matriarch of the Kuru family, the woman who set off the sequence of events that ended in the bloody battle of Kurukshetra, The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty will re-align your reading of the Mahabharata.
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