Book Review: The Treasure of Kafur - A Book for the Child in You

Monday, March 31, 2014 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 0 Comments

Language: English
Author: Aroon Raman
Genre:  Fiction / Crossover - Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (December 2013)
ISBN - 10: 9382616128
ISBN-13: 9789382616122
Binding: Paperback
Price: Rs. 299 (Buy from Flipkart for Rs.164)
Pages: 400

http://www.flipkart.com/the-treasure-of-kafur/p/itmdqpj67csmhmsv?pid=9789382616122&affid=drvishaalb
Synopsis: A novel that tries to fill in the gap in Indian literature for crossover historical fiction. It is an interesting one, though not one which I especially enjoyed. However, this may make for an interesting read when you want a break from monotony. It has all the elements of a good novel - adventure, deceit, intrigue, romance,a little of fantasy and altered history - woven in a good mixture to keep its reader enthused throughout.

Detailed Review: 

Indian history for most of us is limited to what we learn in our textbooks during our formative years, a bland concoction of dates and events without the spicy bits about the happenings in the kingdoms. It serves its purpose of filling in our answer scripts with what most consider is meaningless once we grow older. It is only the people who grow into professors in arts who get to read it in more detail. Our literature on the other hand has interesting stories where people and animals come to life and weave us in to a land of fantasy and mythology. But that too somehow dies down when we pick up our history books.


The Treasure of Kafur is neither a history book nor a mythological story. Set in the age of the Mughals, it tells the story of a young boy (Datta - the protagonist), who is aided by a set of   telepathic animals and how they go about saving the boys grandmother and the Mughal empire from what is certain to be its downfall.

The narrative is rich and detailed and you visualise the story as it happens. You revel in the adventure as though you are a part of it and it is happening in front of you.

Taking its premise from history and the pillaging of the southern cities and temples of India by Ala-ud-din Khilji's general, Chand Ram (rechristened by the emperor as Malik Kafur), the story begins with the hiding of this great treasure. The story then moves about 200-300 years ahead and the emperor of Hindustan is now Akbar. There is unrest at the borders of the empire and the Treasure of Kafur lies between victory and loss of the Mughal empire.

How Datta and his friends play a vital role in the fate of the Mughal empire encompasses much of the novel.

Story:
‘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.

Positives:
  1. Intricate details of the characters and the terrain through which they move.
  2. Methodical research, pacy narration, the fantasy element and a gripping story line.
  3. Language is quite good, neither too simplistic nor too technical.

Negatives: 
  1. The fantasy element may not be to the liking of many readers (Including myself)
  2. An ending that is too contrived and appears strained.
  3. Some of the characters (Asaf Baig) who start out as very important are just brushed aside despite showing promise.

Who will enjoy this? People who love fantasy. Children and adults. The author could have avoided some of the bloodshed described in detail and targeted this to the child-teen age group as well!

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Buy or Don’t Buy?  I am ambiguous about this one. The child in me enjoyed the story, the cynical adult in me did not. Flipkart is offering a 40% discount (available at Rs 164 instead of Rs 299) at the moment, so you may as well grab it.


I received this copy from Flipkart for review. I am not required to give a positive review for this and am not compensated in any other way for the same. 

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