Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Birth of the Bastard Prince by Anurag Anand: a review

A beautiful cover to begin with, the title only accentuates the book to surprisingly pull the readers towards the book. The birth of the bastard prince is the second of a series by Anurag Anand which is named ‘The legend of Amrapali’. For many years now, we all have been reading mythological books and most of them have references to Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna but it is very rare that we find a book on such a mythological character that is not much known by the people. The blurb of the book, says much about it.

According to the blurb- ‘You forget, Maharaj Bimbisara, that I am already wedded. As the Nagarvadhu of Vaishali, I am married to the city and its people and I cannot desert them till my last living breath.’ Legendary courtesan Amrapali’s life story is an enigmatic and extraordinary as her beauty and grace. Found abandoned under a mango tree as an infant, twists and turns of fate led her to become the Nagarvadhu, the most sought-after yet morally reviled courtesan of the kingdom of Vaishali. In Birth of the Bastard prince, the sequel to the riveting The legend of Amrapali, Anurag Anand explores Amrapali’s eventual life as the Nagarvadhu. He described in thrilling detail the war between Vaishali and Magadh, in which Amrapali played a crucial role; traces her love affair with Bimbisara, the Emperor of Magadh, and the birth of their son Vimal Kondanna; reveals the royal intrigue and conspiracies that led to Amrapali’s tribulations; and finally explains how Amrapali found the solace and happiness she so desired. Weaving together facts with fiction, written with a contemporary flavor, Birth of the Bastard Prince is an enchanting exploration of Amrapali’s life as a courtesan and a mother, and her spiritual awakening in the Buddhist order.

After reading the blurb, anyone will have an instant urge of reading the book and I did the same. The first point that struck me from the beginning of the book was that the author has done his best in giving a recapitulation of the first book ‘The Legend of Amrapali’ before beginning the second book so that no reader has any problem with starting the book and understanding the facts. The references to the first book have been kept to a bare minimum and wherever necessary, it has been detailed in the book.

Before reading the book, I had heard about Devi Amrapali but I never knew what exactly the legend is all about; but now after reading the book, the respect for the Devi has doubled in my eyes and I am sure, it will be the same for everyone. The details of the mythology have been given wonderfully, and the research that had to be done for the book shows very properly in the book which adds to the plus points of the book. The characters have been wonderfully described and there are no unnecessary characters of the book. Every character has their own individuality and it is their story as much as it is Devi Amrapali’s.

For the cons of the book, I have to say that at places I found a few scenes that have been stretched too much to lengthen the book which wasn’t much needed. The beginning portion of the book is a bit down on the pace which might urge the readers to drop the book but as they go towards dropping the book, the story catches its pace well and that makes the readers stick to the book till the end. The twists and turns of the book have been very nicely portrayed and that gives the book an interesting feel.

I would’ve liked it more if it were written in a more interesting way and the beginning would’ve been a bit speedier. The Buddhism referred in the book has been kept to a bare minimum, but if it would’ve been a bit more descriptive, then the readers would’ve liked it more. All in all, this book is surely a very nice one-time read to know about the legendary courtesan Devi Amrapali. For me, I would like to rate the book 3.5 out of 5 waiting for more to come from the author.

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