Book Review: Legend of Suheldev: The King Who Saved India

Amish Tripathi needs no introduction.  His latest book- Legend of Suheldev, The king who saved India is out. I finished the book yesterday and here I am to share my review of this book.

First, let me tell you that this book is not entirely Amish’s work. This is the first book written under the Immortal Writers’ Centre, a team of writers who help Amish in conducting research and composing first drafts. The concept, however, comes from the author himself and he clears the manuscript.

Now coming to the book: The book narrates the tale of an 11th century forgotten hero who united Indians against the foreign invaders. Set in 11th century India, Legend of Suheldev begins with the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni, and his Turkic army, as they destroy the holy Somnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. He plunders the Somnath temple and breaks its revered jyotirlinga. The barbaric Turks continuously razed and looted Indian cities and also mercilessly killed men, boys and infants while women were brutally raped and sold as slaves. The book traces the journey of the inspiring warrior Suheldev, as he unites Indians across religions, castes, and regions under his leadership. The bandit prince and his followers put up a fierce resistance against the foreign invaders. Suheldev is crowned the King of Shravasti after his father Mangaldhwaja dies. Soon they face another invasion as Salar Masud, the nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni returns to India with a massive army. And this time the Turks are here to stay as they intend to conquer and rule. It all culminates with the magnificent Battle of Bahraich, where King Suheldev destroys the Turkic army down to the last man.

What I liked about the book is that Amish brings to us the inspiring legend of the great patriot Suheldev whom very few of us know about. I had never heard of him before this book. I admire Amish’s effort to bring to forefront the life and times of a brave king whose leadership, courage and foresight freed India from the  savage Turks.

The book celebrates India’s unity in diversity and cultural tolerance. It questions the caste system prevalent in Hinduism since ages and highlights how it has deteriorated our nation from within. The book also talks about the Hindu-Muslim conflict and the shortcomings in both the religions.

The book had every ingredient to make it a good historical fiction and yet something went amiss. The setting and the first chapter of the book which narrates the attack on Somnath Temple was so intriguing that I was hooked but after that, everything went downhill. So what exactly went wrong? Let’s see.

Although the premise had great promise, the plot was lost big time. The books starts off in style but soon it felt like I am reading a Bollywood script. Every Bollywood blockbuster ingredient is there- patriotism, tragedy, a subtle romance, revenge etc. which kind of killed the narrative.

The main character is loosely inspired from Robin Hood and his band of followers.  If you have read Robin Hood, then you will find a subtle similarity. But what baffled me was that the transformation of Suheldev’s character is so sudden, the transitions are missing. An ordinary prince who didn’t want his elder brother to go and fight the Turks suddenly decides to leave the luxuries of his palace and go to forests in order to engage in gureilla warfare with the Turks. It’s just so abrupt.

Characterization is a big flaw in the book. None of the characters, including the lead character really had any depth.  There are a bunch of underdeveloped characters like Abdul, Goverdhan, Aslan, Ashwaghosh and Toshani who somehow are tormented by the Turks and join the crusade of the Bandit-Prince.

Another thing which put me off was the love angle of Suheldev and Toshani which was absolutely unnecessary. Toshani is a brilliant archer and a formidable warrior but she is reduced to a mere love interest in the book.

Now coming to the presentation of the story- The author tried hard to add suspense but in vain. The main twist was so poorly written. I am not going to reveal it here but it was just so childish and unbelievable. There’s very little of Amish’s philosophical touch that we expect in Amish’s book.

The book, as a whole, is quite average. Amish’s magic, which was so evident in The Shiva Trilogy is clearly missing in this book.  But then the book is not entirely written by him. However this is no excuse. When the name of Amish is associated with a book, the readers have certain expectations..

Inspite of its shortcomings, I will still urge you all to read Legend of Suheldev because this great warrior and his sacrifice needs to be remembered.

Title: Legend of Suheldev: The King Who Saved India

Author: Amish Tripathi

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Westland

Page Count: 352

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