It s not just a retelling of a epic which still has airtime but a different story altogether The women, not just the obvious power players but even the ones I didn t know much about, add very interesting layers to the age old story of greed corrupting mankind. I started this book at a relative s house and started flipping through Being a mythology junkie I then bought the kindle version I fully expected it to be a Meluha like series that would be a guilty pleasure read and the first half almost did read like that But then some 1 3 in to the book the plot really thickens and the author has done some creative meandering to say the least By the end of it I was glad my early bias was proved wrong This is a fun read especially from the point of view of three lesser talked about women in Mahabharata and how the winds of change in their lives contribute to the eventual downfall of Hastinapur Light, fun read. 3.5 stars It s about three significant women characters of Mahabharata Amba, Pritha aka Kunti and Gandhari three women who are important pillars of this epic mythological fiction, Mahabharata.First section is about Amba And, it s my favourite It s intriguing, bold and skillfully sketched section.Overall, The Rise of Hastinapur was an unusual, bold and interesting read If you like reading mythology, you should read this book You won t be disappointed Read the full review on my blog Over the years, there have been many interpretations of the great Indian epic Mahabharata that have been available to the public As is the case with most stories of such a large scale, with a legendary battle at its center, most versions of the tale almost entirely focus on the trails and travails of the male protagonists The female characters of the narrative almost often get sidelined or have a mere passing reference Over the years, there have been some accounts of this tale written from a female perspective Both Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray or The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni present the Mahabharata from Draupadi s point of view, who although undoubtedly is the most pivotal female character is the story is by no means the only important female character The destiny of great men is invariably influenced by the women in their lives, whether they will admit this freely or not There are many wonderful women in the Mahabharata strong women, brave women, fierce women, who at some point in their lives, as mothers, lovers, wives and queens have determined the course of this tale through their actions Sharath Komarraju s Rise of Hastinapur focusses on a critical incident in the personal history of three women of the Mahabharata Amba, Gandhari and Pritha Kunti , which had far reaching effects It is a curious thing, to read a book written exclusively from the point of view women by a male author It s not an enviable position to be in, to be the writer of such a book There is always the danger of portraying your female characters as victims of their men as well as surroundings, conversely in a deliberate attempt to not do so, there is the peril of going overboard with an overt display of constant strength and resilience, that is utterly unrealistic and wholly one dimensional Sharath does neither of this in Rise of Hastinapur In each story, to a large extent, he or less achieves a balance while each woman is strong, fierce and distinct in her own way, she is by no means free of self doubt, anxiety and despair It is refreshing to find as a reader, especially as a female reader women characters that celebrated for their humanity, a humanity which is rich with both strengths and weaknesses I stress upon the physiological, as while there is an underlying premise that moves each story forward in the novel, Rise of Hastinapur is in essence a character study The book follows a non linear format It is divided into three section, each section is independent of the other, and can stand on its own as a novella The first section is dedicated to the story of Amba, and her journey after she is wronged by Bhishma The second story is of Pritha s journey to the magical land of Mathura to rescue her cousin Vasudeva and his pregnant wife Devaki from the clutches of the evil king Kansa The third story chronicle s a young Gandhari s desperate bid to save her once prosperous kingdom from Hastinapur s growing hold In each story the central protagonist goes through a pivotal journey, which going forward impacts all their actions and with the destiny of the greatest kingdom in mythical India Rise of Hastinapur is the second book in the series, and follows the format of the first book, Winds of Hastinapur You do not need to be familiar with the first book to follow Rise of Hastinapur , its non linear structure makes it a standalone entity and can be enjoyed all on its own.As people and sometimes as readers we have often wondered why people, or characters are the way they are What was that one critical point in their personal history, which inadvertently shaped their lives In Rise in Hastinapur presents a firsthand account of that life changing occasion in the lives of each of its protagonists The book switches between first person and third person point of view to separate the person from the action In the third person account, the reader gets an overview of the situation, while in the first person account how the character thinks and feels about the situation I m not entirely sure if this worked for me completely, while it perhaps broke the monotony of having to read the entire book in one voice, it was jarring to switch point of views after spending time with one for an extended period of time For a mythological novel, there is very little actual magic that we come across in the book While there is magic at the periphery, it is mostly excluded from the heart of the novel It is not used as a means to solve problems The novel adapts this tone for most of the book, except during one sections of Pritha s journey Ironically, this is the weakest part of the novel in my opinion In these chapters, some magical objects make an appearance that become critical for Pritha to find in order to achieve her goal The author tries to give these objects a scientific spin, and the overall outcome is dissatisfying In the end as a reader you question the importance of the objects in Pritha s quest I feel that the novel would have just as easily worked without the infusion of magic In this particular situation, the writer could have perhaps created a realistic conflict, which does not shift so dramatically away from the overall tone of the book.Irrespective of one s interest in mythology, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in psychology, and genuinely enjoys a well crafted character study I am of the belief that with enough time, we often forget situations, at least the details become hazy, but we rarely forget people People, both good and bad stay with us If like me, you are fascinated with people then I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Rise of Hastinapur They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and perhaps this time around the author did take a trip to another planet and back Through Rise of Hastinapur the author gives us a glimpse into the minds of three legendary women, and helps us see past the myth and catch sight of the person. I would suggest this book to any one who is a ardent reader on myth stories, This is a fine read and the tone of the book has your attention from chapter 1 Sharath s debut in the series, Winds of Hastinapur fascinates you how it all began, but this one is dark and subtle in its story line and many of them think that Mahabharatha was a feud between two families Amba s heart wrenching position in the society when all of them abandoned her, or the sordid affairs of vichitra virya are not told in all the retellings Gandharl s wanton disregard for her brother or how the Gandhara kingdom was mowed out of existence was all the finer things told in this book.Every retelling of Mahabharatha titillates me in a way where there are several instances which could have led to the war.1 It starts off with the beginning where Vasishata s cow is stolen and all the Vasus get cursed Is this the beginning.2 Shantanu s desire to marry Satyavati wherein he could have dropped the idea and exercised his kingly duties Was this an attempt by Sage vysaa to deliberately start the proceedings for the war.3 Bhisma s terrible oath where he could have still under various pretenses made his life not miserable.4 Gandhari and her not so loyal husband Dhritarastra could have envisioned No pun intended the events leading to the war.All this and fascinates and makes the reader to think what if this hasnt occurred, would the outcome be different I have enjoyed all readings of Mahabharatha and this one as well has led me to understand few underlying themes and still raise questions which are not asked earlier Go for this book without any inkling where this ride will take you. I started reading Sharath s Rise of Hastinapur with great anticipation as the concept of re telling a well known epic like the Mahabharata which is primarily male dominated from the point of view of female protagonists seemed interesting What intrigued me further is that it is not told from the point of view of the main female protagonist Draupadi There have been many works that dealt with Draupadi s point of view But, this book deals with the view of female characters that are usually side lined in most of the retellings of the epic.The book is split into three parts, each dealing with the characters Amba, Pritha Kunti and Gandhari Each part can be read independently and each is kind of a novella in itself Amba works towards ways to avenge her insult at the hands of Bhishma Pritha attempts to rescue her brother and sister in law who have been imprisoned by Kamsa the ruthless and powerful ruler of Mathura Gandhari attempts to save and resurrect the old glory of Gandhar which is under threat due to Bhishma s unparalleled skills in shrewd statesmanship, politics and battle strategy A theme that repeats in all three parts is how these separate events build up towards the Great War Battle of Kurukshetra and how these events shape the characters motivations in the tale that is about to unfold One thing I have begun to love about Sharath s books is the way the various details and seemingly unconnected pieces fall in together into one cohesive story towards the end of the book The underlying thread through these three independent events is the celibate prince Bhishma, the foremost warrior of his age These tales on how Bhishma s decisions based on his values and ambitions lead to his and Hastinapur s eventual downfall make for engrossing reading Sharath KomarrajuFor those who don t know The Hastinapur Series is a retelling of Mahabharata narrated by its most important characters The women The first book in the series The winds of Hastinapur started with the story of Ganga and Satyavati and in this book Amba, Kunti and Gandhari take charge Just like the 1st book, this book s narration alternates between 3rd person and 1st person narrated by the three female protagonists.First thing first, this series is not exactly a retelling of the great epic The author has allowed his power of imagination to seep into the original plot to create characters, circumstances and twists which don t exist in the original text So if you are a purist who considers these kinds of works as a tempering of the story , you can choose to stay away For all others, this is an exceptionally engaging book with many page turner moments You will get to see a new dimension of the life of Kunti my most favorite part of the book and I appreciate the author for the amount of thought and imagination he must have put into this part to come out with a plot like this Amba s story, as expected, is filled with her quest for vengeance and Gandhari s need for revenge gets reflected in the last few pages.Revealing anything will be like giving away spoilers If you are a Indian mythology enthusiast, go and pick up both the books of the series and you won t regret. What Sharath Kumarraju writes is exceptional He has this way of writing a twisted mythology which will keep you intrigued throughout the book Not once I felt that this book should now end I was rather sad when I was about to reach the finish line If you have an inclination towards mythology his books are a must read The story is the same, the plot is the same, but still there is something else he offers each time, which makes his writing different I strongly recommend this book and its prequel A must have in your collection. THE RISE OF HASTINAPURAs someone who never really had an inclination towards mythology, Sharath Komarraju s Hastinapur series came as a pleasant surprise in my reading journey It is Mahabharata told from the point of view of some of the leading ladies of the tale Which is interesting, because women are most of the times relegated to the sidelines when it comes to these large scale epics It s always about the might and magic, who wins and who loses But there are other people too, the ones who watch everything silently, the ones who become victims of the whims of men, either harboring vengeance or looking for redemption These are the women of the Mahabharata and Sharath brings their stories to the forefront like never before This book covers three women Amba, Pritha Kunti , and Gandhari Each of their stories are unique in their own way But what I loved immensely about the book is the humane aspect of it I don t know if Mahabharata was ever told at such a deeply personal level The characters feel alive and real, their state of mind authentic to the time period the story is set in You empathize with their plight, even when you re not really sure how their predicament could be solved The solution, when arrives in the story, is equally surprising and Sharath does pull off a couple of neat twists right under your feet Now I m not a master at Mahabharata or anything, but I know that he tweaked the original story a bit but of course, who are we kidding, this epic must have seen millions of tweaks by now which actually makes the proceedings intriguing because you re never really sure what to expect And the final chapter does tie up all the narratives, nicely setting up the sequel You can see all of the pieces falling into place for the big events of the Mahabharata to begin Sharath also impresses with his prose again, the language and dialogues have that old world charm to them Compare that to the modern ish banter of the Shiva Trilogy and you ll know what I mean The author also relies on sensory detail to make a point A lingering sound or smell is effectively used a couple of times, which I thought was pretty neat The dialogs were clever and sharp, and the narrative breaks into first person from time to time taking us closer to the characters So should you read this book I would definitely say yes If you love Indian mythology, then this fresh perspective will only add firewood to the fire Even otherwise, I feel that this is a great place to start one s journey in mythology Just so you know, this is the second book of the series and I highly recommend the first one Winds of Hastinapur as well. For The Story Of The Great War Is Also The Story Of The WomenAmba Lives For Revenge, But Circumstances And Men Conspire Against Her Will Her Daughter Bring Her The Only Salvation She Seeks Kunti Stakes All To Free Her Brother Vasudev And His Wife Devaki Yet It Is The Groom Choosing Ceremony That Will Define Her Life Gandhari Too Has Come Of Age, And Is Faced With A Difficult Choice She Must Marry The Blind Prince Of Hastinapur If She Is To Save Her Kingdom From The Certain Ruin It Faces Due To Hastinapur S DeceitIn The Background, Bhishma Pulls The Strings, Making Alliances And Marriages, Devising New Strategies, Ever Increasing The Might Of HastinapurThis Is The Mahabharata Like You Ve Never Seen It Before
Sharath Komarraju is an author of fiction and nonfiction based in Bangalore, India Once a software engineer, now he writes for a living, and on lazy days he watches cricket and talks to his wife often at the same time.His most popular work to date is the Hastinapur series, in which he speaks into the silences of the Mahabharata story through the epic s many women characters.
- 360 pages
- The Rise of Hastinapur (Hastinapur, #2)
- Sharath Komarraju
- 05 July 2019 Sharath Komarraju