20 December, 2017

Empire by Devi Yeshodharan - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title: Empire
Author: Devi Yesodharan
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Juggernaut
Length of the book: 328 pages
Source: A free review copy from Juggernaut

A woman of courage, with dagger and bow,
Will do countless deeds: dark and light, right and low.
Her armour dark, her armour gold,
Around her red rivers will flow.
An Indian empire at the peak of its power. A great port heaped with spices, silks, jewellery, perfumes, weapons. Everyone wants a share of the riches of Nagapattinam. When a Greek pirate ship sails in to loot the wealth of the Cholas, it is brutally defeated by the navy and forced to pay a compensation. A payment that includes a twelve-year-old girl, Aremis.
Aremis grows up to be a skilled warrior, a great asset to the Cholas. But she is a foreigner among her captors, even though the emperor trusts her to guard his person. Anantha, the man who took her captive, the supreme commander of the empire's armies, is a wily strategist. But he no longer has the stomach for war. The emperor's ambitions weary him. Rajendra Chola has conquered Lanka, now he wants to rule the Indian Ocean. Their future is set: a dangerous journey across the seas and a bloody, brutal war they cannot survive undamaged.

My Review:

A gist: This story is set in Cholan period in South India. Under the rule of King Rajendra Chola, Nagapattinam is flourishing as a major seaport. When a Greek pirate ship is defeated by the Cholan navy, along with the other soldiers, a 12-year-old girl 'Aremis' also surrenders to Cholas as a war refugee. She is trained with other Cholan army soldiers and wins the trust of the King as his royal guard through her archery skills. Even though she is punished for helping Ananta, the supreme commander of Cholan army for his personal revenge, she gets to show her mettle in a war with Sri Vijayans. This is the story of her, who being a foreign girl and an outsider to Cholans is discriminated at all levels being a female warrior in those times when women were only meant for pleasure.

What I liked?
I enjoyed reading about the people, places, and culture of ancient times in South India. I have read the translated version of 'Ponniyan Selvan' earlier and this story is also around the same time period. I love the way the author has dwelled deep into the characters of Aremis and Ananta going through their innermost fears and problems. This depth in characters connects me to them very well as a reader. 

There is not much story in this book but a good amount of history and information about the people, kingdoms, hierarchy, culture, and mindsets of people in those days. The wars, preparation before the wars, the strategies of King and the ministry, the struggle of soldiers on long sails in those days, the effort of everyone else to satisfy their king, the loss during wars are explained very well. I don't know about the problems on sailing long distances with less food and water until I read this book. 

The map of the empires in those times, sea routes and the brief about each character in the starting of the book are really helpful. 

What didn't strike a chord with me?
Since the author shifted between the perspectives of Aremis and Anantha in every 20 pages, it seemed confusing while reading.

I felt, there are some loose ends to be connected at the end like the mystery behind the returned Queen and the future of Aremis or to know if she wins King's favor again. I think, there is a sequel in the author's mind. 

Overall, I recommend this to all who love to read a historical fiction based on Cholan period.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ps: I have received this review copy from the author and this is my honest opinion on the book.

Purchase link:

About the Author:
Devi Yesodharan was a speechwriter for Narayana Murthy. This is her first novel.

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting read for sure! It would be one of the first books I would read about the Chola empire :)


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