A Review of the debut novel by Aneesh Gokhale
Reviewers are not supposed to have emotions. They are supposed to be neutral in their evaluation of any book. Sometimes they are required to be brutal, to be unforgiving in their judgement of the book that they review.
I am generally neutral while reviewing any book. But it was difficult in this case!
The subject of the book was the rise of the Maratha power in the 18th Century and its reaching its peak – flying the Saffron high from the walls of the Attock fort! This was a subject very, very close to my heart and I would be very ruthless if someone messed up this book. Hardly any good English novel has been written about the Maratha history. This young author was doing something I had been longing to do, to write Maratha history in English and place it in front of the world!
And by God’s Grace, he succeeded in doing that!!
Sahyadris to Hindukush starts off fast like the Blitzkrieg Cavalry of the Marathas and takes you as the Saffron treads the barren lands of Central India, the fertile Gangetic plains, the lush fields of Punjab and finally the rocky terrain of the Indus Valley – the very cradle of the Hindu Civilization!
The author’s command over the English language used in the novel is what impressed (and inspired) me the most. The flow of the language is superb and the construction of the sentences to make them sound like they were spoken in the local dialects in the Medieval times. Attention to detail in various parts of the novel – including the Geographical accuracies – will surely take the reader on a roller coaster ride of the Indian sub-continent!
It is very clear that the author has toiled very hard and has studied and researched thoroughly before sitting down and penning the novel. Even the smallest habits and customs of the Marathas and also the Pashtun tribes seem to have been studied in great detail! I congratulate the author for completing this mammoth task!
However, in my personal opinion I would have been greatly pleased had the author increased the size of the novel. The novel is an odd 187 pages and I would have loved if the author had made it 500 pages!
Inspite of its small size, Sahyadris to Hindukush dazzles you! It makes you imagine each and every scene and battle depicted in its words. You wince at the dirty politics played in the Mughal court and also rejoice when the Maratha banner flutters on top of the Attock Fort walls!
A must read for any one who is interested in the happenings in India in the 18th Century. A sure fire engaging novel, I will surely recommend this one!
– Pranjal Wagh
30 Apr 2013
This work by Pranjal A. Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License