Truth be told, I am not a big fan of mythological / historical fiction. But then, this book attracted me since Ram was my classmate at Indian School Muscat and I was keen to read his work considering all the good reviews it was getting. Is this a debut to remember for Ram? Let’s check it out.
The blurb goes like this –
It is the 18th century and despite the dominant Mughal rule, the Maratha Confederacy has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Indian Subcontinent. The fragile peace between the two powers is threatened when Balaji Vishvanath Bhat, Peshwa of the Confederacy, foils the plans of Nizam Ul Mulk of the Mughal Empire, and asserts the power of the Marathas. However, little does the Peshwa know that he has dealt the Nizam an unintended wound—one with roots in his mysterious past and one that he would seek to avenge till his last breath.
When the Peshwa surrenders his life to a terminal illness dark clouds gather over the Confederacy as it is threatened by a Mughal invasion as well as an internal rebellion.
All the while a passive spectator, the Peshwa’s son, Bajirao Bhat, now needs to rise beyond the grief of his father’s passing, his scant military and administrative experience, and his intense love for his wife and newborn son to rescue everything he holds dear. Will the young man be able to protect the Confederacy from internal strife and crush the armies of the Empire all while battling inner demons? Will he live up to his title of Peshwa?
The book is published by Westland Ltd. and it surely has quite an eye – catching cover showing Bajirao riding a stallion. This is sure to capture your attention and you surely want to move on to the story as soon as possible.
While I haven’t seen Bajirao Mastani, I must say that Ram has an excellent concept at hand. I am not sure why so less has been talked about Bajirao in our history books. But he sure was a mighty warrior. The book starts off by tracing the journey of his father – Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath who trains Bajirao initially and then finally Bajirao grows to be a successful soldier in his own right leading his troops onto the battlefield with utmost confidence. The conversations and the emotional connect between both father and son is quite effectively portrayed.
The narrative keeps you hooked as Ram’s research into the life and times of Bajirao and the way a Peshwa carries his soldiers into war comes through. There are no unnecessary characters or sequences which slow down the story. The illustrations at certain places surely add another element to the narration.
Ram’s writing style is so lucid and straightforward that you actually feel like one of the characters in the book. You feel that things are happening right in front of your own eyes.
Honestly I couldn’t find anything negative about the book. There are those who may find inaccuracies in the book in terms of history. To them, I can only say that Ram was writing a novel and has tried to bring the best of both worlds – facts and fiction in order to make a really compelling story. It was not a school textbook after all.
There are 4 main characters in the book – Balaji Vishwanath, Bajirao, Nizam Ul Mulk and Kashibai. While each of them has been described in excellent detail, Balaji and Bajirao take the cake.
All in all, if you are a fan of historical fiction, don’t miss this one. This is a superb debut by Ram. Bring on the sequel!
Rating – 4.5/5
Seems like a book I would like :). Very good review Aseem !
Thanks Prateek :).
Thanks for sharing your review. I have never read historical fiction from this particular perspective and while I’m not sure if it’s up my alley (down my alley? in my alley?) it sounds as if it wasn’t quite your taste either and still garnered an impressive 90%! I shall add it to my list of books to read. So many books to read…
While I am not exactly a fan of historical fiction, this one was quite a good pick in the way the writer intermingled facts with fiction.