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Aroon Raman’s second book is one of good old action and conspiracy, mixed with history. The assortment is just perfect, with the right amount of every element. The book is set in the Hindustan that is ruled by Mughals and plays heavily on the threats that Akbar received from the Khandesh region.
The book opens much before the Mughal era, and begins to a tale of Kafur, Khilji’s trusted lieutenant. The bounty that they have won after waging war in different regions has accumulated and transporting it through the desert is a dangerous prospect, as the threat of an attack is imminent. So, Kafur is instructed to hide the treasure in a place that no one can ever find it. And that is, the treasure of Kafur.
Fast forward to the Mughal era, where Akbar is reigning over India. He is, as all history books tell us, wise, practical, pragmatic and a visionary ruler. He has managed to get most of Hindustan under his control. But the cruel and unpleasant Asaf Baig of Khandesh loathes Akbar with every breath and he knows that to win the allegiance of all anti-Akbar troops, the treasure of Kafur is his key. It will make him indestructible, presenting him with the largest army. The twist is that, only an old woman called Ambu knows the whereabouts of this treasure. Asaf Baig kidnaps her, leaving her grandson Datta alive. Now Datta is on a quest to find Ambu and prevent Asaf Baig from acquiring this treasure. And only ally he can count on is Akbar. This proves to be the adventure of his life, where he grows up to be a man and forms many uncommon friendships.
This is a story of fiction and fact, with a good amount of fantasy thrown in. The book has talking animals, animals in combat, friendships between commoners and royalty and so on.
It is well written, and each character is well etched out. The story itself doesn’t digress or ponder much and carries on, making it a page-turner. The best part of the book is meeting between Akbar and his greatest enemy, which leaves us breathless. Another wonderful part is the rescue of Datta in the end. It was written with great perfection. The book, as the author mentions, is partly true when concerning the facts. The treasure itself is a fact of history, though it was never lost. Akbar’s character is kept true, and details such as his marriage to Jodha Bai and his illiteracy are true, as are the threats from Khandesh.
The fault with the book is that there is a prolonged period of inaction and with a sudden twist there is great amount of action that is cut short suddenly. The climax isn’t given much explanation and a huge part of it is left to the reader’s mind. Even the love angle in the book is quite unnecessary and could be done away.
But overall, this is a great book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a good Indian-authored read. With just two books, Aroon Raman has carved a niche for himself in the world of literary fiction, and well deservedly so.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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