Book Review: The Ivory Throne

Book Review: The Ivory Throne @talespensieve

There has been a dearth of good readable Indian history books and The Ivory Throne helps fill that void. (Other eminently readable and lesser known Indian history books: 1857 by Vishnu BhattDo and Die by Manini Chatterjee). Manu S. Pillai’s Ivory Throne is a fantastic book that chronicles the history of the kingdom of Travancore.

To be frank, I only picked the book up because Raja Ravi Varma appears in it and his presence in the story intrigued me. What I hadn’t bargained on was to be hooked from page one. Though the book is based on history (and I assume is thus, fact), it reads like a novel. Pillai’s meticulous research shows in the book most in the characters, each one more colorful than the last. I understand more about the history of Kerala/ Travancore now that I did earlier. And the lesser known Lakshmi Bayi (Queen Sethu Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore) is a character fiction writers would struggle to create. Pillai has written a book that reads like a thriller in most parts.

Highly recommended.

But I worry for Manu S. Pillai. Unless he intended for the book to be read only by history students or purchased by libraries, at an MRP of almost Rs. 700, it wipes off the possibility of a leisure reader picking it up. And this is a damn shame, since I enjoyed the book as a leisure reader (albeit a history-buff leisure reader). The cover too could have had a better treatment – I dare say it will hardly attract those who do judge a book by its cover. And then there’s the size of the book, which married to the cover image, screams ‘For history students only’.

But if you do have the money on you, look beyond the cosmetic flaws and pick the book up. You will not regret your decision.

Title: The Ivory Throne
Authors: Manu S. Pillai
Publisher/ Imprint: Harper Collins India
Pages: 694
Genre: Non-Fiction/History
Rating: 4.00 of 5
Reviewed for: The Tales Pensieve Pick of the month – February 2016

Read the reviews of other books rated 4 stars by Team TP HERE