Mahabharata, the great epic has been told and retold many times over, but with the Aryavarta Chronicles, Krishna Udayasankar has achieved the most imaginative form of retelling the ancient saga that there is. The first book in the Aryavarta Chronicles Trilogy named ‘Govinda’ revolves around the life of a cowherd-turned-prince who intelligently masters the art of turning around the life of empires. This isn’t the usual tale of Mahabharata. Rather, it is a completely new myriad of characters woven into the familiar story of the Kurus and the Pandavas seen through the eyes of Govinda Shauri, such that an all new perspective of looking at the story comes forth.
With so many versions and renderings of the Mahabharata coming out in the wild, it is really difficult to pick one you will like. The Aryavarta Chronicles books would appeal to you if you love reading a refreshingly new retake on any age old story. The author has done extensive research to bring about a confident say on her strong characters through an even stronger and pacy prose. Krishna Udaysankar’s Govinda as well as Kaurava have interesting and detailed scene settings with attention to minute details as well as there’s ferocious action packed in, if that’s something you enjoy reading. Plus, you might feel that you can predict the plot, but you actually can’t and only that thought is enough to keep you hooked until the end of the trilogy.
Some of us will definitely love how the author has managed to demystify the “demi-gods” of the Indian literature. She has shed light on the sweet-bitter personality of every character. The characters are not at all perfect or divine in any way. They are as flawed an as human, as you and I could be. Be it the Draupadi or Syoddhan (Duryodhan) or even the likes of Sanjaya Gavalgani, Shikhandin, Devala Asita and the great Aswatthama – the way she has managed to do the interpretation of these characters is extremely relatable and thus applause worthy. In the Aryavarta Chronicles Book 2 named Kaurava we can see the circumstances and the situation that leades Govinda from a relatively non ambitious, non competitive, and family oriented man to a person driven by anger, rage, ambition, and jealousy. As a plot to destroy Govinda’s beloved city Dwarka takes an unexpected turn, and Dharma Yudhisthir gambles away his empire, the tormented princess is forced into a terrifying exile and Aryavarta is pushed off the cliff again in the brink of destruction.
The story is mainly about the various political moves from the different kings in the empire, attempting to bring down Dwaraka and Indraprastha. The way the attack on Dwaraka is described will have you gaping with awe. The second book is at times brilliant, but on some occasions you feel that that the author could’ve been a bit crisp. What we really love is the reasons that the author has given to every character’s actions by explaining why they did what they did. At times there will some twists and turns that would be difficult to cope with, but that is not a punishable crime. Out and out, the language used in the book is good, the tension is palpable and the action is furious – and the book retains an element of humanity that the readers will connect to.
The only negative thing about the book (which will be felt only by very few) is the constant drift from the mythological saga. Not all will be able to accept the small yet important details of Mahabharata left to be described in some corners of the book. But then, this isn’t the place you should look if you want to dig every fact. The Krishna avatar of Vishnu in the first book Govinda leads up to an interesting twist in the tale in the second book Kaurava. What happens when the epic battle of Kurukshetra commences is something every single person will await after he/she finishes reading the final pages of Kaurava.
Brilliant storytelling coupled with real-life like characters will make the Aryavarta Chronicles a must-read for mythology lovers. Krishna Udayasankar has offered us all a splendid universally-appealing series to dig into.
Eagerly awaiting the third and the final installment of The Aryavarta Chronicles: Kurukshetra.
Overall Rating (Book 1 and Book 2)- 3.5/5
Krishna Udayasankar is a graduate of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, and holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the Nanyang Business School, Singapore, where she presently works as a lecturer. Govinda, Krishna’s bestselling debut novel and the first in the Aryavarta Chronicles series of mytho-historical novels, received critical acclaim. She is also the author of Objects of Affection, a full-length collection of poetry (Math Paper Press, 2013) and is an editor of Body Boundaries: The Etiquette Anthology of Women’s Writing (The Literary Centre, Forthcoming, 2013). When she is not watching Rajinikanth movies first-day, first-show, complete with applause and whistles, or hanging out with her fictional characters, Krishna can be found with her family, which includes two book-loving Siberian Huskies, Boozo and Zana.