Title: The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty
Originally published: 2017
Author: Kavita Kane
Publisher: Westlands Publications Ltd.
No. of Pages: 325
Kavita Kane is well known for her books about the lesser known female characters of Indian Mythology. The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty is the story of Satyavati, the Queen of Hastinapur. Though a strong character with a major role in the epic Mahabharta, Queen Satyavati remains an enigma.
Raised as a fisher girl, Matsyagandha went on to become Queen Satyavati and was responsible for the battle of Kurukshetra- all because of her ambitions. The book takes us through the ups and downs of her life and also her aggressive ambition of becoming the Queen. Born a princess, Matsyagandha is deserted by her father and she is raised by her uncle Dashraj who is the head of the fishermen community. She dreams of getting rid of the abject poverty she is living in and in her ambition, she is willing to go to any limit.
A fateful encounter with Sage Parashar grants her a boon- body fragrance that can waft for miles and can entice anyone whom she wants. But the encounter also gives her a son whom she gives up a week after birth. Her dream comes true when King Shantanu fells for her charm. She plots, schemes and manipulates to eventually become the Queen of Hastinapur. But at what cost? Devavrat pays the price for her ambitions by taking a vow of celibacy and relinquishing his right to the throne, just for his father King Shantanu’s happiness. Ambition has no end. Satyavati further makes a lot of wrong choices to survive in the race for throne. She manipulates people around her and refuses to listen to any reason. She regrets in the end but it is too late now. The seeds she sowed were reaped in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Queen Satyavati is intriguing and was integral to the Mahabharta but not many people are aware of it. Kavita Kane gives us an insight of the choices she made. Satyavati is an intelligent woman who doesn’t hesitate to use her beauty and sensuality to manipulate men to achieve what she wants. She is neither ashamed of it nor apologetic. But she is not cold-hearted. She is vulnerable but masks her emotions behind her strong façade.
The author has portrayed Satyavati’s character beautifully. Through the rise and fall of Satyavati, the author has written a gripping book which keeps us hooked till the end. The vivid descriptions and beautiful imagery brings alive the story of Satyavati in your mind. The author has also tried to explore the man-woman relationship through Shantanu, Satyavati and Devavrat.
A word of caution though- The novel should be read as a work of fiction. Though the main characters and incidents of the novel remain the same as in Mahabharta but interpretation is the author’s own. She hints several times at the soft corner Satyavati has for Devavrat. Amba seems to have fallen in love with Devavrat which he doesn’t reciprocate due to his vow but in his heart, he too has feelings for Amba. I am not sure if Satyavati was actually this manipulative woman as described in the book or simply a victim of her circumstances.
One should stick to Mahabharta for authentic reading and enjoy this book as a work of fiction that it is. However, this is a novel which is worth reading because Kavita Kane has beautifully retold the story of a relatively lesser known Satyavati who is the grand matriarch of the Kuru Dynasty and in her ambition, sets off the sequence of events that end in the battle of Kurukshetra.
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