The Brahmin by Ravi Shankar Etteth
Price: Rs 350 INR (paperback), Rs. 220 INR(Kindle Edition)
Buy here: https://amzn.to/2m8QxLr
The empire is ruled with an iron hand, masterminded by Emperor Ashok. But his kingdom is under siege and even his able spymaster, the enigmatically named Brahmin, is baffled by the murders that have shocked the concubines’ quarters. Who is behind the gruesome deaths and what is their purpose?
Lush with historical detail and unforgettable characters, The Brahmin is an intelligently plotted novel that seeks to recreate a near mythical period in India’s past.
About the author
Ravi Shankar Etteth is the author of four novels: The Tiger by the River (2002), The Village of the Widows (2003), The Gold of Their Regrets (2009) and The Book of Shiva (2016). He has been a graphic designer, political cartoonist and editor of magazines and newspapers. He currently lives in Delhi and works as a consulting editor of The New Indian Express Group.
My take on this book
The book is set in 267 BC during King Ashoka’s times where the story happens initially in Pataliputra and then shifts to Ujjain. The story revolves primarily around ‘The Brahmin’ the head spyman of Magadha kingdom who sets about trying to unlock the murder mystery of a concubine from Ashoka’s palace harem in Pataliputra. Along runs the mystery of multiple murders by a serial killer ‘Blood Flower’.There is a tense air as the King is getting ready for war with Kalinga empire. There are internal as well as external enemies, Ashoka’s own ministers and soldiers as well as Kalingan spies who have their own selfish motives to destroy the Magadha kingdom.
This is a spy espionage story which chronicles the times of King Ashoka, where the reader is introduced to the ruthless and merciless side of Ashoka, a generally untouched period before the famous Kalinga war. The spy master along with his network of loyal spies and the King’s bodyguards tries to catch the traitors.
The book takes the reader to those historic times, with intrinsic details of the palaces, lanes and bylanes, lives of residents of the palaces, as of common people. It also describes how the spy networks worked between enemy countries, diplomats and their cunning tactics, how killers are planted in enemy lands.
The writer very effortlessly takes the reader to Ashoka’s era with a lovely narrative style while combining a thriller into a historical setup. All the characters have the right amount of depth, as the writer knits fictional characters into a long known story.
What could have been better — more footage for the King himself; the Brahmin reveals all the secrets and backstory of what happened so far during the climax. I would have liked to see the Brahmin more in action trying to crack the zigsaw puzzle himself. To maintain the suspense, writer doesn’t describe in detail what the protagonist was upto until the climax.
Overall a fast paced thriller set in ancient India which describes the times of King Ashoka beautifully. A must read for all thriller and history buffs!