Immortal‘s back-cover blurb made me recollect a science-fiction film titled The Man From Earth, whose titular character, like the protagonist of Krishna’s book, live through centuries with an unending life. The concept remains pretty much the same, and while I mistook Immortal to be a standalone thriller, one can easily trace its origins back to the author’s popular series Aryavarta Chronicles. A man from the time of Mahabharata, who wielded sword alongside Duryodhana, is still alive in the present day and age using new-age weapons. I’ll take the bait.
We’re acquainted with Krishna’s prowess in the mytho-fiction genre, and she puts her skill to good use here, carving a thriller that infuses good research work with neat storytelling. Professor Bharadwaj, we learn soon, is none other than the cursed son of Dronacharya, Asvatthama, who has been damned with an eternal life. He has been assigned the task of searching the Vajra, an artefact of mythical characteristic that Asvatthama thinks might be just tell-tale, as he has not been able to find it in many centuries. But could the thing really exist?
Seeking the ‘thing’, our man-eternal sets off on an journey that takes him from the temples of Dwarka to Nilgiris and finally to the deserts of Balochistan. There’s an interesting history to our undying man. He has fought almost every prominent war in history – he fought along with Duryodhana, he fought along with Genghis Khan, he even fought alongside Subhash Chandra Bose for India’s Independence. His backdrop makes a very absorbing read, and to imagine a man witness so much bloodshed through the course of his life is frightful. There are several other references Asvatthama throws up now and then, and familiarity with those names adds to the enjoyment.
Compared to Aryavarta Chronicles, the narrative of Immortal is feverishly fast-paced. Engaging throughout, Krishna Udayasankar packs this book as an adrenaline-shot for the mytho-readers. Highly recommended.