Shreyas Bhave’s first book The Prince of Patliputra (Asoka Trilogy #1) offers an action-packed story-line to the lovers of historical fiction. Taking a well-known personality from Indian history and weaving a gripping tale on his life is not an easy task. The task becomes more difficult when the personality the author is choosing is a well-known name among his possible readers. The author of the book under review, however, skillfully accomplishes this challenging task with ease. He certainly knows how to tell a spellbinding story. I found the plot quite interesting and engrossing.
Now, who doesn’t know about Asoka? The story of Samrat Asoka has fascinated a lot of people all over the world. Hailed as one of the greatest kings of ancient India, Asoka was a ruler whose life was transformed by the sight of a gory battle (the battle of Kalinga). A large number of books have already been written on him. Additionally, movies and TV serials have been made on his life. What I mean to say here is that this is not the first time someone has attempted to write on this subject. However, what makes the book under review unique is the way the author has gathered the historical facts and transformed the same to provide the readers with a window into an amazing historical world. Approached from a different angle, the story of Asoka in this book engages readers with a well-crafted story-line. There is a well-defined theme, an engaging conflict and finally a resolution. The book is slow at the starting but progresses to become a page turner once you wade over the first 20 pages. From there onwards, the book keeps your attention till the last page of the book. While the book is a historical fiction, the characters are not dull (which happens to be the conventional belief). On the other hand, they are believable and leave a long lasting impression on your heart. Careful attention has been given to develop these characters and, as a result, these characters blend effortlessly with the engaging story-line.
The Prince of Patliputra is the first part of Asoka Trilogy and deals with the military exploits of Asoka before he became the Samrat. These military exploits take the readers into a magnificent world of politics and conspiracies; love and romance; bravery and cowardice; loyalty and betrayal; and suspense and thrill. However, this book is not only about Asoka. Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya also feature prominently in the story-line. In fact, the stories of Asoka and Chandragupta Maurya run parallel to each other. This parallel shifting has been done adorably and does not hinder the flow of the story even once. On the other hand, the story of Chandragupta Maurya helps the readers to understand Asoka in a much better way. The invasion of India by Alexander also makes an appearance in the plot and adds a different charm to the story-line.
The author has researched well and the fruits of the same can be seen in the plot. The language is lucid and flows with ease. Though I have no problem with the cover page, I think it could have been much better and appealing.
Overall, it is a fantastic read and should find favourable readership among historical fiction fans.