‘The fate of an Empire trembles in the balance…’
Hindustan, 1580 AD. The Mughal Emperor Akbar is at the height of his power, seemingly invincible. But twenty years of war have earned him many enemies, and rebellion is brewing, led by Asaf Baig, the tyrannical ruler of Khandesh. Baig has stumbled upon the knowledge that the fabulous lost treasure of Malik Kafur, that will guarantee victory to Akbar’s enemies, is known to an old woman called Ambu.
Baig Kidnaps Ambu to wrest the knowledge of the treasure from her; but her twenty-year-old grandson, Dattatreya, escapes and flees across Hindustan to enlist the help of the one person who has the most reason to stop Baig – the Mughal Emperor himself.
Staying one step ahead of capture and death, Datta is swept up in a world of kings and warrior princesses, of uncommon friendships and an implacable evil; and a desperate race against time to save his grandmother – and the Empire.
After what seems like years of reading historical and contemporary romance (six months actually), I was yearning to read a good thriller filled with loads of blood and gore, or an adventure a la Da Vinci Code. Just as the thought crossed my head, I was contacted by Aroon Raman, the author of this book, asking if I would like to read it and review it. I went through the blurb on Goodreads and seeing that the book promised to be a rolling adventure, I obviously jumped at the chance and am I glad I did!
The book is placed in the Mughal Period in India, the late 1500s, when Akbar was in reign. As the title states, it is about a lost treasure. The plot revolves around a rebellion by Asaf Baig, the ruler of Khandesh, who plans to overthrow Akbar, and plans to fund the battle with the Treasure of Kafur. The whereabouts of the treasure are known to Ambu, a Guardian of the forest, who can communicate with animals, and is kidnapped by Baig. The 'Guardian' bit adds a mystical angle to the plot, but luckily, the author has managed to reign it in to a large extent and not let it swallow the plot. The premise of the plot is clearly established in the first few chapters, and what follows is how Datta, Ambu's grandson with the hep if his animal friends, manages to reach Akbar and rescue Ambu with his help.
I don't know how historically accurate the book is, but that does not bother me as it is not a text book but a work of fiction. The author has a good command on the plot and has not veered too far from it in most instances. The court descriptions were a little boring and I did not like to read about Datta's impressions on ALL the things, and these parts could be shortened a bit. Also, I felt that the romance angle was kind of unnecessary and the ending was a little lame (It would have been great to end on a super high note of battle victory or finding the treasure). But the politics and the strategy part was gripping. I also liked the descriptions of the war and battles. The aside about Maharana Pratap was sooo interesting, it makes me wish Aroon will do a follow-up with the Maharana and Akbar as protagonists.
In this book, Aroon avoids two of my favorite complaints regarding Indian Authors, extremely loong descriptions of anything and everything and pathetic grammar and language. His language is quite good, unlike most other Indian writers who are on extremes most of the times, either writing exceedingly simplistic language, as if the reader does not understand English at all or writing as if they are Oxford professors or have overused the thesaurus function in Word. The author has managed to run a relatively tight ship, making the book a tolerable length instead of making the reader wish it were over.
All in all, I enjoyed the book, it is well written and a different subject that what I have read before. I would recommend it for all readers looking for an adventure read.
If not for the ending, I would have rated it a 4/5, however, as I did not like the end, I will rate it 3.5/5 for delivering a quick fun read.
I have received a copy of this book from the author for review, however, it has no effect on my actual review. All the impressions, good and bad. are my own.
P.S : Indian readers like me beware, Like me, you may keep imagining Hritik Roshan as Akbar! Not a problem for me though as I quite like him!!! :) :) :)