Ashok and the Nine Unknown — by Anshul Dupare
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Price: Rs. 295 INR(Paperback), Rs. 210 INR(Kindle Edition)
ISBN: 978– 9353047641
Buy here: https://amzn.to/2MW3uUy
You know what, the best revenge will be watching you failing to achieve your dreams. Do what you can, Ashok. The game has just begun!
Ashok wandered amidst the corpses, helplessly, looking like a dead man walking among the dead. The wailing of people who had lost their loved ones on the battlefield cut into his soul and it was then that he heard a cry for help.
As realization of the devastation of war seeped in, Ashok decided to dedicate his life towards the betterment of society and try his best to prevent any destruction of life. Realizing he could not do so single-handedly, Ashok created a secret society comprising nine chosen members, who were known as the ‘Nine Unknown’, to help preserve knowledge that, in the wrong hands, could be used to destroy humanity.
Little did Ashok know that the safekeeping of such knowledge had a high price to it; that shadows walk amidst us and that sometimes our actions unspool unimaginable consequences.
The first of two volumes, this book has the power to transform your idea of reality!
About the author:
Anshul Dupare likes to explore novel ideas and unexplored avenues through his writing. Originally from Nagpur, he was brought up in Madhya Pradesh and has spent most of his life in different parts of India.
An alumnus of Sainik School, Rewa and Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT), creative writing has been his hobby for a long time and he also writes poetry. He is an avid traveller, a voracious reader and is fond of chess and basketball.
He currently resides in Dallas, USA.
My take on the book:
The war against Kalinga was over but Emperor Ashoka was not happy with the victory. Instead all he saw around was pain, suffering and death. The scenes at the war change Ashoka in a moment from the ambitious emperor to a brooding man. The citizens of Kalinga also accept this defeat and their fate and are happy to be under the rule of Ashoka, who promises better life and development for them. However, Amartya, a soldier of Kalinga, who lost his family, home, everything in the war is not ready to move on and is hell bent on avenging Ashoka for the devastation he created in Kalinga. After losing both his arms, one eye and suffering a severe injury in stomach, not much is left for Amartya to hold ground as warrior to fight back the mighty Emperor.
Ashoka, around the same time, plans to use the existing knowledge in the world for betterment of the society by creating a secret group of nine scholars ‘The Nine Unknown’. In a far away mysterious land, Mayong, people want to hide and safeguard their ancient and sacred knowledge from the outside world. Where does life take Amartya in his quest to avenge Ashoka; how far Ashoka succeeds in forming, keeping this secret society forms rest of the story.
As mentioned in the blurb, this is first of the two part series, hence the story is left incomplete by the end, where first part establishes the characters, their intentions, and their back stories. As much as the story is a historic fiction with story created around the after math of the famous Kalinga war, the author weaves a lot of fantasy elements into the narration. There are multiple stories running in parallel and the narration takes a while to tie them together to understand the final destination.
The characters, narration and story are all well developed by the author and since there is a sequel in making, the overall likability of the story obviously depends on how the second part will also turn out. The fantasy elements, conspiracies, are the highlights but the major takeaway is what Ashoka tried to teach to the world from his experience of the Kalinga war, from his transformation from an ambitious emperor to a wise and knowledge thirsty scholar.