Thanks to Dan Brown and some others’ success, there’s an influx of thrillers in the market, at their best to engage readers, as also of Hindu mythology, and authors’ perspectives/accounts/interpretation/takes of it and the lore.
The book in question here, ‘The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret’ starts off with quite some promise, as does the intriguing title (which, of course, made me curious to want to read the book, just like many others, I am sure). It does come out to be an engrossing read, for the content at times, and for the hope that there may be something ahead, more promising than what was being read then. The technique of switching back and forth between times and genres does the trick too, though it gets to be too much at times.
Intertwining the ancient with the contemporary, mythology with history and a take on science, the book could have been a real thriller, as intended by the author, as promised by the introduction notes, and as expected by the reader (given all this), but towards the middle, the story becomes very predictable; Not to miss the melodrama akin to the Indian cine world! A cliché, but readable story. The headings for paragraphs are spoilers, giving away what comes next, dampening the thrill element by degrees.
The characters are well sketched, with their fads and fetishes, and mature well with the plot.
The book could definitely do better with the diction, which comes out as school boy English–short, simple sentences “The others had left. It was just the two of them”; Not to mention the ‘mother-tongue influence’, for instance, “What preparation did he have to do”…well, we ‘make’ preparations, not ‘do’ them! Or why not simply say “What did he have to prepare”! Why nominalize a verb (prepare) and then mess it up with the use of another verb (do)? And, a daughter is precious “to” a father, not “for”. Well, and there’s “Radha hurried down the corridor, acting as if she was in a hurry.”
The amount of research that has gone into the book, be it about the mythology, archeology and so on, is quite commendable, as also the efforts in keeping a fully fledged plot running, and ensure it doesn’t fall apart.
The book brings forth insights into history and excavations not all may know of. The author has gone to quite some lengths to furnish information and details for the benefit of the reader, and it shows in the extent of details he delves into, about the exploits and expeditions and researches, knowledge and findings of the characters. All in all, it can hold its own, making the reader turn pages, for reasons varying from reader to reader.
Further, the author has tried to keep up some suspense with the “To-be-continued” tactic, (hoping to help sell his next book?) but what is to be seen is, will it hold on, in time. This said, I hope the sequel is worth the wait for the readers, just as the author promises in his closing notes. For me, I definitely am not waiting for it. Why? It falls in line with the likes of ‘The Krishna Key’, for me, though a shade or two better, plot-wise.