The Peshwa: War of the Deceivers — by Ram Sivasankaran
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Seven years have passed since Peshwa Bajirao Bhat annihilated the Nizam’s armies at Fort Mandu. The two forces have been engaged in attacks and skirmishes ever since. Acting on the advice of his right-hand man, the mysterious Anaamik Dabhade, the Peshwa now sets about laying a trap to truly ensnare the Mughals, and break their might.
The Empire, of course, has methods of its own. And Nizam Ul Mulk is itching for an opportunity to exact revenge of the formidable Bajirao. With assassins, saboteurs and criminals infiltrating the Maratha lands, the Mughal Empire scores as many victories in the night as the Peshwa does during the day.
Meanwhile, in the far reaches of the country, set ablaze by the never-ending conflict between these major powers, a Sikh warlord, a Rajput king and a Bundela princess find themselves increasingly tangled up in the endgame that will determine the very course of history. It is a battle of wits and skill, and the greatest deceiver of them all will prevail.
About the author:
Ram Sivasankaran was born in Madras, India, but has spent most of his life abroad, largely in the Middle East and the United Stated of America. He was brought up on stories from Hindu legend and the great epics and classics of both India and the West.
He holds a dual master’s degree from Stanford University, specializing in aeronautics, astronautics, space environment and plasma phenomena. Although a scientist by training, Ram is, at heart, a daydreamer of sorts, who believes deeply in the power of imagination — the mind being the canvas on which even the seemingly talentless can create new universes, resurrect eras long gone, bring the gods to life and even revive heroes and heroines of yore.
My take on the book:
The new Mughal emperor, along with his supporters, one the Nizam from Hyderabad and the Maharana from Rajputana, hatches a plan to snatch back Fort Mandu from the Marathas. And ultimately to bring down the Peshwa as well as the Maratha Confederacy. The Maratha lands are filled with the Scorpions, the secret cult on the prowl, who are killing men, women and children alike. Each of the emperors are assuming they are laying a trap for the other side, while only time will tell who is getting trapped in whose.
Chimaji, the young brother of the Peshwa Bajirao arrives at his gates one day after years of disappearance and is taken into the family and the Peshwa’s home without much doubt. On the other hand, the king of Bundelkhand gets indirectly involved in this plan so are the lords of the Khalsa lands whose support the Marathas need for their safe passage through these lands, which is the shortest route for Fort Mandu. While there is trouble brewing everywhere, the Chattrapathi’s own men harbor increasing discontent for the Peshwa and his ways of operating. How and where will all this culminate forms the rest of the story.
While this book is the second one in the Peshwa series, it can be read standalone. Of course having read the first part would help immensely so does some previous background of India and its rulers during that time. Historic fiction is a sensitive genre if not handled with proper attention by the author. The author Ram succeeds in describing the strategies of rulers, in their courts, and during wars, with much finesse. Even with multiple states and multiple rulers, the numerous characters do not get overbearing and have their own graph through the runtime of the story.
While most of the story is based on facts, the author’s brilliance comes in while narrating the fictional part of what could have happened in the lives and minds of these historic characters. The beautiful illustrations add an old world charm to the story. While the detailed description of certain scenes can get a little boring, this book is not for a quick read, but is apt for a slow, relished experience.
Pick this one for an engaging, brilliant story of the Marathas and their valor, the Peshwa’s tactics as well as heroism; and even if you are reading history for the first time, you are sure to be asking for more at the end. One of the best books in recent times, this is a must read, especially for Indian history lovers.