The Conquest of the East: Royal Crown Returns by R. Durgadoss is a befitting sequel to the bestselling book The Indus Challenge. While the book is the second installment of a series, the book can be read as a stand-alone book. With a well-written plot, the book holds your attention till the end. By creating some interesting characters, the author tries to bring alive our dramatic past. As I have mentioned many times in the past, writing historical fiction is not an easy task. The author should not only be able to tell the historical tale properly but should also be able to narrate it in a gripping manner. And, I am delighted to say that the author has accomplished this task successfully.
The book takes you back to the Chola Empire, one of the longest ruling dynasties in Indian history. The book revolves around Surya, a boy of an astonishing birth. As was predicted after his birth, Surya turns out to be an extraordinary boy. He has some special skills with water and, on the basis of these skills, he finds himself selected for the Chola Royal Army School. Gradually he grows in rank within the Chola army and finally becomes a part of the king’s personal entourage. From the point of view of Surya, the book tries to tell us about the Chola Empire and a number of incidences related to those times. The book generally deals with the period when Chola power was at its peak.
Let us turn our attention to the other aspects of this book. The writing is simple and flows easily. The pace of the story is neither too fast nor too slow. However, at the same time, you find that the chapters are really short. The author has mainly focused on action and not on the description. I feel that some more pages could have devoted to describing the social life of Chola people. I would have liked to see descriptions of markets, streets, food, and music. I would have liked to feel the hustle and bustle of Chola markets. It would have given the book more historical depth and made the book more interesting. Characters have been sketched well and you can relate to most of them. There are a number of twists and turns in the plot but these do not take the wind out of your sail. The book is filled with a number of war scenes. Some of these scenes could have been more action-packed. The cover looks beautiful and I think does justice to the content of the book.
There are very few books that deal with Chola dynasty and people generally do not know anything about it. This, in a way, is sad as this dynasty was one of the longest ruling dynasties in the history of South India. Therefore, we need to appreciate the efforts of R. Durgadoss who brings alive the times of the Cholas through this novel.
Go for this book if you love reading historical fiction. The book is a small one and can be finished in one sitting.