Title: The Boy From Pataliputra
Author: Rahul Mitra
Category: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Fingerprint Publications
Price: Rs. 295
Snapshot: It is 326 BC, and Alexander, the barbarian king of Macedonia has descended upon Bharatvasrsha with a multinational horder of Yavanas, Pahlavas, Shakas and Bahlikas.
As the invaders advances relentlessly and wins bloody battles in quick succession, as local rulers fall over each other to shake hands with the enemy, and as the students of Takshashila University break into open revolt, one young man is faced with a terrifying choice, a choice that threatens to tear his carefully constructed world apart. For Aditya is the boy from Pataliputra, the boy who was once a reckless and carefree aristocrat, but who has now been forced to become a man with a purpose- to fight for honour and love. With a sweeping narrative and interesting everyday characters like the smelly old dhaba owner Tanku; Philotas, the unlucky Greek soldier; the no-non sense medical student Radha; Pandi, the hard drinking mercenary and the lovely Devika, The Boy From Pataliputra is not just the mesmerizing story of a young man’s growth to maturity, but also, equally, a story about the rise of a nation.
Review: The Boy from Pataliputra by Rahul Mitra offers a brilliant yet rare window into the 4th century BC- its people, power and glory by knitting a fictional character into the threads of an existing history. Places and names like Magadha, Pataliputra, Macedonia, Chandragupta Maurya, Chanakya and Alexander are etched in our minds and bloats up from the corridors of history in this book. The cover picture is designed nicely showing the boy- Aditya, a rebel with his horse Ashvaghosha depicting his extraordinary journey.
The protagonist- Aditya is a young reckless blithe boy who resides with his elder brother Ajeet. Ajeet stays perturbed for his younger brother’s future. One day misfortune and fate strikes hard on Aditya when his brother dies amidst political conspiracy. Ajeet’s acharya and best friend Navinda sends Aditya away to prepare for the hardships of life. They genuinely believe that he is strong enough to change the course of history. He leaves Magadha and heads to Takshashila in a caravan with Navinda’s trusty Pandi who is vivid, rich and outlandish. So when Aditya goes out into the real world, he is not familiar with its workings, and is often stumped by Pandi. With a character like Pandi, the author has explored a teacher-student and a father-son relationship. Slowly and steadily, Aditya’s talent blaze more fiercely as he encounter with life’s challenges. The author skilfully creates moments that are at once tender, funny and fragile. However, once the boy has his able to fathom the world around him, the plot virtually draws from him to Rishabh, Radha, Tanku, Charaka and the twins. The author has knitted a fantastic tail of characters in all these that takes his readers to the fun loving college kinda-young cool life. Rahul Mitra’s characterization is stupendous in a way that it successfully strikes the chord unfolding the story. And then, there is the beautiful Devika, the love in Aditya’s life. The author has done his reaserch well and it shows in his deep detailed writing. Be it the sword training or the Akhara fights or the horse race during Vasant Utsav that turned out to be a most pleasing moment. It’s written to be memorable.
When Aditya is facing and bracing with his own life, a great ruler Alexander is waiting to invade Bharatvarsha. At the same time, there is a rising uproar of students, monks and acharyas to rebel against King Ambhi for Utthisht Bharat (Unification of Bharatvarsha). The verbal showdowns by Acharya Chanakya, Acharya Pundarikaksha, Rishabh, Tanku and Radha enlightened by state of affairs, and Aditya shackled by responsibility are interesting. It’s an intriguing fraction recounting the biggest showdown of history- the fight between Alexander and Porus. The storytelling and narratives are strong making the stakes feel worthy and real with all the heroic overwhelming.
In essence the book is an interesting read and flips through the pages of history in a convincing way. It virtually plays out well and by the end leaves its readers almost daring to wonder how the course will occupy an entire saga after this for Aditya.
The writing and narratives are strong compelling its readers to stay hooked till you reach the last page. I would also like to appreciate the author for going through the meticulous research and introducing and knitting his characters so well into the story that it looked so real.
The book is written well, however the use of some modern day words like yaar, freebie and awesome along with few others seemed pretty implausible in the context and could be easily avoided.
If you’re a history fan and want to get mesmerized by the era once again, do read ‘The Boy from Pataliputra.’
About the Author: Rahul Mitra grew up in Delhi and is currently working as an IT Marketing Professional with a multinational company in Mumbai. Passionately, interested in all things Indian, Rahul is vociferous in his opinions about India, its people and its culture. Like many other before him, he believes he can change the world and influence people through his writings.
Book Reviewed by Shaily Bhargava:
Shaily is an Equity Technical Analyst by profession and an ardent reader, freelance writer, book reviewer by passion who enjoys most of her jolly little life in her cocooned dreamland cooking up stories. Her short stories are published by online literary magazines of repute like Storizen, eFiction India and in anthologies like- ‘Tell me a Story’ by Penguin India and ‘The first Brush on the Canvas’ by Half Baked Beans. Shaily finds her strength in the 3Cs-Coffee, Chocolates and Candy Crush.