The Last Kaurava by Kamesh Ramakrishna – Book Review

The Last Kaurava

BY: KAMESH RAMAKRISHNA

Synopsis:

The last Kaurava is a novel set against the background of a crisis circa 2000 BCE caused by the drying up of the Saraswati. Hastinapur on the Ganga is a frontier town that is overwhelmed by immigrants. Social policied set to manage the crisis fail and set the stage for the great war that destroyed one civilisation and established the first empire in the region.

A frame story, set in 850 BCE (over a thousand years after the great war), reimagines the meta episode in the epic of how God Ganesha agreed to be Vyaasa’s scribe, subject to unusual conditions.

In the words of the author “I imagined a highly evolved, non literate and orally based culture in 850 BCE, utterly unlike its ‘literate’ Western (i.e.) Persian, Assyrian, Greek etc.) contemporaries. I followed some ground rules. Nothing fantastic – no gods, goddesses or demons,; no magic, no magical weapons, no miraculous conceptions, no karmic explanations. Situating the Great War in 2000 BCE limited the technologies available – for instance, no nuclear weapons but more to the point, no horses or iron or million man armies. Iron was scarce or unknown; armies were small, horse drawn war chariots would not exist for another 200 years. Transportation was by carts drawn by oxen or onagers (the “Asian wild ass”). The people were not all that different from us – they loved, they hated, they were kind, they got angry, they acted without thinking, they plotted, they lied, they demanded the truth etc. Not better than us and not worse either. They were just like us. The result is this novel.”

Book Review:

The Last Kaurava is a work of fiction which is the imagined version of Mahabharata. Involving the characters of the great epic, the author has tried to create his own version of Mahabharata, where the stories and events follow the imagination of the author. It took me a while to get into the concept and thus into the storyline as this version is quite different from the original one; but once the flow was taken, I started enjoying the story.

The characters are same as that of the Mahabharata, but the incidents are very much different from the original. However, it follows a very strong and crisp storyline which is highly engaging. The characterisation is also very good.

The research being done before recreating the epic is impeccable and the narration style is very good and highly descriptive which adds to the beauty of the novel.

Overall a captivating and enjoyable read. Those who love mythological fiction will enjoy the novel and they must give it a shot.

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