Book Review: Arjuna
I am sure by now anyone who follows this site knows that if there are books that I will pick up by just the genre then they have to be Indian history and mythology. I first saw Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince on amidst new releases and without much ado added it to the wishlist (to-be-read list); the mythological connection you see! A few days later Anuja Chandramouli wrote in asking me to read the book for my views as a reader. And bingo the book jumps from the TBR(ead) list to the TBR(eviewed) list!
Arjuna is the story of…well Arjuna from the Mahabharata by Ved Vyasa. The book focuses on the single lead character, from the world’s longest poem, who had the ability to influence the outcome of the epic battle. Fresh from yesterday’s I would say Arjuna was MSD for the Pandavas – their single most destructive weapon. For me Arjuna has always been the sexiest character from the epic; he had it all. Archery prodigy, focused, full of valor yet vulnerable, Mr. desirable, passionate and made his enemies sweat the war out. Anuja narrates Arjuna’s life story mostly in the back drop of Mahabharata and we get the know the epic hero in an improvised light. While she retains his hero-ish avatar, she also gives him a near humane touch (not that he was portrayed as divine ever.)
Anuja in the book takes us through Arjuna’s life by not just narrating the conventional parts that we already know about him but also through little tales here and there that have stayed under the surface of the vast canopy of hindu mythology. The language is simple and narration crisp which helps keep the interest going and avoids the drag that may come into a mythological narrative.
But inspite of being an out and out Indian mythological fan I did not enjoy the read much for two reasons – firstly barring, the earlier mentioned, few side track stories Arjuna does not offer anything new. It is another retelling of Mahabharata with a little focus on one of the characters and secondly barring the title the book is not really focused on the title character. It does not seem like an out and out Arjuna’s story or a narrative from his point of view. So as a result it just seems like a retelling of Vyasa’s grand epic in a concise manner.
Anuja’s writing style is good. She has a knack of keeping the readers engrossed. Though I am not much impressed with her debut I would like to read her use her narrative skills in a better way in another work. If used well she should be able to write a compelling read.
Recommended only if you haven’t read much of Indian mythology.
Thank you for the copy Anuja.
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