I had read Lanka’s Princess a while back and it was one of the better mythology writings in our country that I had come across since Amish Tripathi. However, something changed this time when I picked up ‘The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty’. I was irritated throughout the book at various aspects of but I still wanted to know how the story proceeded since I am not much aware of Mahabharata. I did not like the book much but now I know something more about the epic series and what led to the war. Is that sign of a good book or a bad pick? Let me tell you what I felt upon reading the book.
I absolutely loved the cover, more for the graphic. The cover is a graphic art of the fisher Queen herself adorned in heavy jewellery and red forehead. The art is beautiful, however, the text ruins it. The text in white looks like it has been misplaced there. It needed some more work. One may not be able to spot the name of the author on the cover at once.
Satyavati is a character in Mahabharata who is responsible to start of the great war of Kurukshetra. This is the book about the woman who was looked down upon by everyone. And so is she in the entire book here as well. She tries to justify herself but fails miserably. The book is meant to be for the lesser acknowledged ladies of the Indian epics but this one as well paints her in dim light. Satyavati or Matsyagandha was born to a king and remained forever Unacknowledged. She is greedy but generous to lesser privileged. She is a opportunist as opposed to the feminist character that I expected her to be.
Some would deem it immoral, but virtue was a quality invented by the men to suit their needs. If men could use women, why couldn’t it be the other way round? Sex and beauty were the weapons of seduction that she could, and had, wielded in conflict and contest.
Bhism also plays a major part in the story. He too is a benevolent psuedo ruler who is a mural of dharma. His character is exactly like the one in Mahabharata. However, his entire life hear revolves around Satyavati.
The book begins with an interesting prologue with Bhism lying on the bed of arrows contemplating his life as he lived it. He is looking back at his mistakes and wishes he never made them. The book is all about his life as he lived it swearing allegiance to the fisher queen and her dynasty. It is beautiful start quite unlike the pages to come.
The story backflahes into the entry of Satyavati or the fisher queen. She is rightfully a queen who has grown up in a fisherman’s household. Having abandoned by her father when she was a new born she learns the importance of a privileged life. She inhabits a strong determination to acquire power and status. She gets an opportunity when a wise Vasudev brings her a proposal. A proposal to give her whatever she wants in return of which she is to give her a child. She exchanges the child with eternal beauty and a scent that seduces men as she enter the room.
There also enters Ganga with her son, Shantanu. There are two stories running parallel where Satyavati and Shantanu are living separate lives until they come face to face and that brings the starting line of the war of Mahabharata. This book is all about how Satyavati climbs the ladder of status with deceit. And how each step she takes she brings her dynasty awfully close to destruction.
The story of Mahabharata is known to all. This one is no different. However, in this narration Satyavati has also been given a voice. A little too much is what I felt. She is always talking. Or thinking in her head. Or repeating their dialogues over and over again in different format. It is annoying. Bhism is known to everyone as the noble figure but he is impotent when t comes to Satyavati and her dynasty. The plot is great that keeps you wanting to know what happens further. However, the narration is crass. Flipping the pages become painful as the story goes by.
Painfully long descriptions. Extremely dramatic narration. Crass narration of intercourses. The internal monologues are boorish. There is a constant mention of Satyavati keeping her finger on her lower lip. I did not understand the meaning of it. The fact that it was repeated throughout was even more annoying. There are so ridiculous dialogues in the book that blow your top of, not in a good way. For example:
‘One has to stumble to fall in love or otherwise, she thought grimly, and I am not one who will ever stumble or fall. But to own the kind she has to give her all, she reminded herself.
To quote a daily soap dramatic narration:
The happiness dissipated as fast as it had filled just a few moments ago, and she felt a hot flush mounting up to her face. She would be wearing Ganga’s crown; she had taken Ganga’s husband, Ganga’s place, Ganga’s role. Even Ganga’s son. Ganga!
Bhism is no better:
‘He could not break his vow; he could never marry her. But he should, a voice tainted him. He had brought upon her this crisis. No! He could not; he could never.’
I loved he cover. It is gorgeous! The plot is extremely interesting. It is the only aspect in the book that will keep you glued to the book.
The characters are extremely crass and the narration is overtly dramatic. Those who dislike soap opera are going to have tough time getting though the book. The content tests your patience. It is heartbreakingly slow. There is no meat in the story. It could have been written in one chapter.
Whom do I recommend this to
This is for mythology enthusiast who would like to a different perspective.
I learnt to love like a man—to love without feelings. And I shall never forget this lesson in my life.
You don’t have to have the royal blood to know the game; you simply have to have the courage and shrewdness to play it. Play it well, for it is no indulgent sport: it is cold-blooded competition, in which not the strongest but the shrewdest will win.
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