Snapshot: It is a story around the lost treasure of Malik Kafur, which is so abundant that its possessor can strike a war on anyone and sustain it for generations? What if it fell into the tyrant ruler of Khandesh, Asaf Baig, who aims to capture Hindustan, winning it from the most just and loved ruler of the land, Akbar.
The Review: After connecting with Aroon Raman on twitter, I discovered that his next book would be on my favorite times "the Mughal era" and since then I had been waiting for this book (though I haven't read his first book The Shadow Throne).
The story begins with Malik Kafur, burying huge trunks of treasure into the river Khelna in the dark of the night with such a practiced manner that not a sound is made. After the needful being done, all men except Kafur stab each other and kill. The man feels it all went without anyone noticing, yes no man noticed, even the one that performed the act were now dead, but there was someone who saw it, a tortoise on the bank of the river, saw it all, remembered it all, thought he couldnt reason it all.
Present day: Monsoosn hadn't blessed the region of Khadesh since years, as the lands fall barren the ruthless ruler Asaf Baig only increases his taxes over the already poor farmers. One such villager, an old woman full of spirit and wisdom Ambu, tells her grandson her desire that Akbar, the most just king of Hindustan rules them. Ambu is a woman of wonders, she is reputed in the village for her healing powers, has a great sync with nature and can telepathically interact with animals. The same communication powers lie with her grandson Dattatreya (Datta). Manas the grandson of the tortoise who saw it all, confides in Ambu and reveals the story of the treasure. She preserves it and when her sixth sense alerts her of upcoming dangers she lets it out to Datta.
As Akbars plans to take over those lands were always an open secret, Asaf Baig was no normal enemy. He too unites everyone with the smallest reason to hate the Mughals. His plan however bent on just one thing, a huge army to combat the Mughals, and the power to replenish the injured and sustain huge numbers till the war is won. The answer to "how" is the treasure of Kafur. He leaves no stone unturned, employs Taraks - a clan of Sadhus who do black magic, penetrate the mind and kill to please their goddess - Taraka. When he realizes the secret lies with her, Ambu is kidnapped. But she leaves Datta a message to travel to Akbar's territory and inform him of the treasure. Datta then begins his exciting journey with his animal friends, A cow- Aditi, Manas- the tortoise, the ravens - Shukra and Kanka and the colorful, beautiful and intelligent parrot - Sherazad . However, asaf Baig's best commander Rahamatullah khan chases them. Will Datta make it in time? Even if he does will he be able to convince Akbar and rescue Ambu? How will he fight the dark magic of the Taraks?
To know all this go grab a copy now! You surely will have the best time reading it!
Positives: A great story. Not strictly historical fiction as I found the story missing the strong historical pull back and time travel I experience with writings of the Mughal era especially by Indu Sunderesan, but the book is just not that. Its a lot more, especially the much forgotten harmony and friendship of man with animals, man with his own nature, the abundance of this and a great focus on these characters, to me seemed he best part of the story which therefore creates its own niche. It will be wrong to characterize this book as just "historical fiction" for it has much more to offer.
Negatives: At some later points in the story many more twists could have been added which I am not sure if the author choose not to. Also one particular part which I really waited for was just zoomed, that possibly is the editing to blame.
Overall: Aroon Raman's language is simple yet enchanting. The story is 3.5 stars on 5.