Aroon Raman’s debut novel ‘The Shadow Throne’ is an excellent read. The writing is good, the plot intriguing and the pace, fast enough to keep me reading to the end.
I love it when a book has a takeaway and propels me to find out more about something I read in it – and this book had it: the Buddhas of Bamiyan. The Buddha fascinates me and although I’ve heard of these, I did not actually go looking for information before. I did now.
But first, let’s look at what the book says about itself in the overview (they wrote it far better than I would have):
India faces nuclear Armageddon… A mysterious murder at the Qutub Minar triggers a call to ace journalist Chandrasekhar from his cop acquaintance, Inspector Syed Ali Hassan. The victim is unlike anyone Chandra has ever seen: a white Caucasian male who has all the looks of a throwback to Greek antiquity. Soon after, Hassan calls in to report the case has been taken away from him – in all likelihood by RAW – the Research & Analysis Wing, the uber-agency of Indian intelligence.
What began as a murder enquiry soon morphs into a deadly game of hide-and-seek within the shadowy world of Pakistan’s ISI and India’s RAW; and Chandra, his friend history professor Meenakshi Pirzada and Hassan find themselves in a race against time to avert a sub-continental nuclear holocaust. As the action moves to its hair-raising climax among the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan, Chandra must face up to the fact that Inspector Hassan is not all that he seems …
The story begins at the Qutub Minar in Delhi India where a murder takes place and links the main characters of the story who are: Chandrasekhar the very likeable (Tamilian) journalist, Police Inspector Hassan, History professor Meenakshi Pirzada, Nalini Pant from Indian Intelligence and Gul, from ISI, Pakistan. They are the good guys who must find a way to avert a nuclear disaster that has been cunningly planned by masterminds.
The action transports us to Afghanistan, introducing us to the Hazarajatsand the Kushans who want to establish a land of their own, to central Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountains, the site of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, tragically destroyed by the Taliban. Construction is in full swing here, but that is not all that is happening. Chandrasekhar’s instinct and Meenakshi’s sharp brain lead him here to investigate and together with Hassan, things hot up in the caves of Bamiyan. How does it all end? How does Chandrasekhar manage with a broken arm and will Hassan survive the third-degree torture he receives at the hands of their captors?
What I liked:
Very nice writing style. The characterizations are all very believable. The plot is convincing. The pace is fast. I am not big on politics but what I read in Aroon’s book curdled my blood. I thought his narration was pretty near perfect and synchronized nicely with the flow of the story. I think this would make a great movie. (Aroon, what do you say?)
Irrelevant, but fancy Chandrasekhar the journalist meeting someone from Pudukkottai in Afghanistan at the Bamiyan site! Pudukkottai (Tamil Nadu) is my native place!
The book is gripping and I liked that it dwelt on Chandrasekhar’s personal life just enough to endear him to us, without long drawn out stories. I realized I was holding my breath during the last fifty-sixty pages of the book. As the story unfolded, I was excited that it was not predictable.
I really enjoyed the historical facts tied up with the plot. Absorbing – with just the right amount of detail, spurring me on to seek more info. I like that about a book. I didn’t know about Kushans and now I am busy reading up about Kanishka and related history.
I am NOT going to list the editing errors in the book this time.
The Shadow Throne by Aroon Raman is a fantastic book. Please do read it!
I look forward to reading more from this author.
Trivia Aroon explains what triggered this novel here. Curious about the Buddhas of Bamiyan? Here’s more info and here’s a slide show of photos
I found a video trailer of this book on YouTube
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