Here’s my take on Abhaya by Saiswaroopa Iyer.
A tale set in the times of Mahabharata. An assertive and idealistic Princess Abhaya meets the enigmatic Krishna Vaasudeva. A bereaved Dhatri, pursued by her own family is saved by Lord Bhauma. When subverted religion becomes a tool in the hands of power thirsty and strikes Bharatavarsha, the land of Aryas, Abhaya finds herself face to face with the impending doom.
“Can we combat the fear with faith? Can we keep our faith undeterred when the last traces of hope melt away? Can we receive blame and adulation, accept them and yet not give in to them?”
Saiswaroopa Iyer is an IITian and Venture Capital professional turned author. Abhaya is her debut novel.
Set in ancient India, Abhaya starts with Lord Bhauma – the king of Kamarupa – saving Dhatri from the enraged crowd with the help of his commander Mura and failing to save Dhatri’s love: Amaranatha.
Dhatri is then introduced to Shakta practices and eventually declared as the ‘Mahayogini’ of the Shaktas.
Meanwhile, the story heads ahead with the birth of the hero of the story, Abhaya, the daughter of Dharmasena, and the princess of the province of Anagha. On the day of Abhaya’s birth, Kadambari, the sister of the Naga Chief Varahaka, hands over her son to Dharmasena and sets off towards the south due to some unbearable circumstances.
The character of Abhaya then evolves tackling the difficulties that come her way, where Krishna – the absolute warrior, accompanies her ahead in the story. To know what exactly all of these characters are related, you need to read the book.
Talking about the plot and narration of the story: the plot is well researched and nicely knitted. The narration has a good flow, and the dialogues make a powerful impact on a reader. If talking about the things that I liked, I would give a huge thumbs up to the way the battle scenes are depicted.
Coming to the storytelling and characters of the story, the readers can easily visualize the scenarios written, as those are vividly described – without breaking the flow of the storytelling. The characters are very well put and the interaction between or among the characters hold a charismatic effect on the unfolding of the story. Few of the scenes are witty enough to make you laugh, a plus point for that, as that adds a glare to the story. In spite of trying a genre that needs a lot of work, the author has managed to give a power packed story to the readers. Twists and turns are guaranteed.
3.5/5 stars from my side.
Talking about the things that could’ve been improved: the chapters could’ve been placed in a little different manner, the reason I tell you – there are many characters in the story and when the chapter is left at a cliffhanger, it becomes a little difficult to recall the exact chapter that one read earlier. I had to shuffle through the pages to link the chapter that I was reading. The pace of the story is affected in the middle of the book, probably due to the slowness in the narration.
Also, the plot turns quite predictable as we near to the end. Apart from that, kudos to the author for writing a well-researched story, telling the tale of the heroic and inspirational Abhaya.
The cover of the book, the storytelling, the dialogues, the scenes, the grip on the language, everything – awesomely done. I found this book based on Indian mythology pretty refreshing. Hence I’d suggest you read this book if you hold an interest in mythology and sagas. I hope it won’t disappoint you.
Thank you and regards,