Book Review: Mithra
“Life for a warrior is filled with challenges…
……..The legacy of our family was written with this sword…
As long as you hold it; our family’s name will live.”
Ancient Warriors dying for honor and love for their country has always made Indians swell up with pride. Women have always showed their potential in various steps of life down the ages in our history.
When these character traits are mixed with history then an ancient tale like Mithra is born. Sahana L narrating the tale of Mithraveera – the first woman warrior of ancient India, where Kings like Devarata of Virpur ruled and flourished with his people, has been able to weave that ancient charm that mythological fiction demands, a genre gaining interest gradually. A woman warrior with courage, valour, heart of gold and her strongest weapon – her sword – weaves our interests towards this grandeur tale.
Mithra unfolds the lives and struggles of kings and their kingdoms, the people, the royals, the attendants, the position of women, courtesan’s life, warrior’s difficulties and sacrifices, political tensions and the tragedies of war. Factors such as these reflect the courage and determination of a woman warrior rising up to the occasion.
Mithra’s birth in a warrior family is the initiation of her hard life. We see her proving her potential, living up to her father, Chief Agneyastra of Virpur‘s expectations, protecting her people, sacrificing her wishes and standing tall in hard situations. Being a woman rules forbade her from succeeding her father in guarding the royal’s lives but her determination to live up to the expectations through her skills bends stereotypical notions.
When Mithra starts revealing her secrets to us through the first few chapters, we do feel a little disappointed at the loosely dealt plot and language. Lines like we expected a tiger cub but we were handed a puppy, my sleeping beauty, etc right in the first few chapters is a put off but the narrative style in the later parts portraying the characters and situations is quite engaging.
The plot picks up tempo soon when we get to know Mithra vanishing away and Veera coming in the forefront to fulfill her promise to her father and herself. Our interest get pinned in the love triangle between Veera, Dhruva and Shaurya. Epic tale and love triangle is a perfect mix. What makes it more interesting is the fact that Veera is bound by promises, when she bonds with Dhruva, an orphan trained under her father to succeed him as decided by the king but as fate would have it, after war consumes her father, Veera proves herself and becomes the Commander-in-Chief of Army of Virpur and Dhruva remains her loyal friend and companion, fulfilling his duty towards her father to protect his daughter in every turn of her life.
As the army thundered Veera’s name, the warrior was born. Veera was her father’s dream, Mithra was her curse. The understanding that Veera and Dhruva share is more than friendship, it is more than trust; it is a bond sealed with pain – the pain of loosing a mentor and a father. Each one dealing with the monsters of their past but their deep understanding of each others needs and characters gives it an edge and I felt very connected to them.
Veera’s continuous battle with herself and her life as a warrior surfaces, when at the ghat a father having lost his daughter to war tells her that she will never find peace and that she will always have blood on her hands. This brings reality crashing down on her but Dhruva’s constant support, protection and affection towards her helps her find her way.
Shaurya, the crown prince of Indragiri falls for Veera’s courage, dusky complexion and dove eyes when she enters the archery competitions dressed as a man. Though going by his ways with woman his initial longing for Veera is purely out of passion but soon we see him falling in love with her. But his sudden love when he interacts with her for a few seconds is not convincing enough. He did not know her like Dhruva, does not share the same bond, Veera hardly knew him so his going against all odds to protect her is confusing to the reader; I often ended up doubting Shaurya’s maddening pursuit for her. But he is definitely not our anti-hero – Waging wars to show power and marrying to build alliances is strictly rebelled by Shaurya. I liked Shaurya’s rebellious nature, his longing for Veera and his fondness for his nephew and friends which are traits of a great man thus making him the reader’s center of attention.
One very annoying part for me in a story that otherwise does fairly well is: the author often describes the two heroes as bare torso – gliding in the water, their silky hair swaying with passion – and the phrase the breath was knocked out of Veera is used so often that I feel it was few of Veera’s favourite things.
Other characters like King Kirtiverma who appears as the villain ready to do anything to save his royal family’s name and kingdom, Ashwasena and Vidyut – friends, loyal to the heroes – are good in their role. The three central characters though connected by pain, all have certain qualities that the readers will completely adore. A tale of love, promises, faith and friendship. And it delivers. As we turn the last page of the book so many questions haunt us and we yearn for more. This tale doesn’t end with this book but is all set for a sequel.
Readers who love a period saga with tinges of romance will find Mithra very interesting and will wait for the sequel with excitement and expectations. I hope the author gives us a story to remember.
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