From the book blurb:
Asoka the Great discovers an ancient and terrible secret—a secret buried deep in the Mahabharata; a secret that could destroy the world; a secret hidden away for over 2300 years…
A retired nuclear scientist is murdered. He leaves only e-mails with clues for his nephew. He and his friends follow a trail through ciphers and 2000-year-old ruins. Pursued by powerful dark forces, caught between the secrets of the past and the intrigues of the present, can they unravel the mystery before an unspeakable horror is unleashed on the world…
Now regular readers of this blog would know that I am a huge fan of Indian mythology and it therefore goes without saying that I am a fan of the Mahabharata as well. So when a book called The Mahabharata Secret was released I was more than sure that I would catch up with reading it sooner rather than later. And when I finally managed to grab a copy of the same I devoured the book with great gusto despite the fact that I was interrupted when reading it with a road trip, a family function and pot loads of office work which ended up in me taking a good 8-9 days to finish it. But finish it, I did and enjoyed it quite a bit as well.
Written by debutant author Christopher Doyle, this book has shades of Dan Brown books in that it takes something that Indian readers are all very familiar with, the Mahabharata and Emperor Asoka and gives it quite a nice twist with the plot dealing with a deadly secret that Asoka discovers in this great epic and goes great lengths to keep it a secret for all time to come. Thus begins the plot which deals with a mysterious secretive and possibly legendary “Group of Nine” and the secret they have been asked to hide away.
Vijay, the protagonist is the nephew of the slain retired nuclear scientist who is forced to get involved with his uncle sending him three cryptic e-mails before he is killed. Along with his friend Colin, his uncle’s friend Shukla and Shukla’s daughter Radha, Vijay then sets off on a journey of unraveling the clues left behind by his uncle without even having inkling as to what he is getting into. Little do the group realize that their story would then involve the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Intelligence Bureau and various other international diplomats and business chasing them and continuously being hot on their heels.
Criss crossing the northern parts of India where Emperor Asoka left behind his various edicts and pillars, the story follows this group of adventurers as they try to unravel the secret so zealously guarded by the Group of Nine while trying to keep away from the clutches of their various pursuers. All in all, a tightly wound storyline which keeps readers glued to the edge of their seats and prevent them from taking too many breaks during the reading sessions.
One minor complaint I have from the book is that the author could have included illustrations of the various places and specific clues that were used throughout the book. This would have given the reader a better idea of the protagonists’ ordeal through the tale. And another minor niggle I personally had was that I felt that the editing could have been a little crisper and the book itself could have probably been made a little more smaller, by around 50 pages or so. But then, in the broader picture, these are but minor things in what otherwise is a wonderfully engaging book.
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