Book Review: Mahout

Have you ever wondered how and when wild elephants were domesticated? Isn’t it amazing how the man managed to tame a huge wild elephant? These are some of the questions that form the basis of Mahout by Ashraf Jamal.

Mahout is the first book of author SM Ashraf Jamal. This is a novella. The genre of the book is historical fiction. Mahout was originally published in Hindustani dialect i.e. Hindi with a touch of Urdu. Now the author has come up with the English edition of the book for the benefit of English readers.

The story is set in an era when Harappan Civilization was on the brink of its end. Mahout is the story of two tribal brothers – Matsya and Meen. They are the sons of the tribal chief. At that time, the head of the tribe was called a mahout. Their family had been holding the position of the tribal chief for three generations. But their father was worried that this would not happen now.  Both the brothers were very irresponsible and lazy. They always passed their time playing, swimming, and sleeping while the rest of the tribe was busy hunting, fishing, gathering food, or doing odd jobs in the village

One day when both the brothers were away from their settlement for fishing, their tribe was attacked and the settlement was set on fire. Only a few people survived the attack. They decided to go south and set up a new settlement in a safer place. The survivors chose Tadashi as their chief. Under his leadership, they moved to a safe place and settled there. Tadashi’s daughter Hamda was the most beautiful girl in the tribe and also the most courageous.

 At the new place, the two brothers often saw a group of elephants passing by their settlement on their way to the water spring. Seeing this every day, the two brothers got the idea to capture the wild elephant and domesticate it. Will both brothers succeed in their mission? Will they be able to domesticate the elephant? How will the story progress? To know all this, you have to read this book.

I found this novella quite interesting. The story is quite unique and different. The story has everything – it has emotion, love, fight, thrill, twist, and suspense. The story moves fast and keeps the readers hooked till the end. The ending of the book is quite surprising. It’s a cliffhanger of sorts. The twist will leave the readers stunned. I didn’t expect an ending like this. And it left me with a lot of questions.

 If I talk about the characters of the book, then the characters of both the brothers are beautifully written. The story of their transformation is worth reading. But the character I liked the most is Hamda. She is very beautiful and also very courageous and responsible. This shows that in ancient India, women were treated on par with men. The plot of the book is such that it can easily be written as a long novel. But it is a small book, of just 50-55 pages. I wish the author had written a little more!

The language of the book is quite simple and easy to understand. Since the book is short, you can easily read it in an hour. So I would say it’s a perfect book for beginners. If you are looking for a fast-paced and entertaining book then this book is for you.

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P.S. I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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