Book Review: Ashok and the Nine Unknown by Anshul Dupare

Book Name: Ashok and the Nine Unknown

Author: Anshul Dupare

Publisher: Rupa

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: You know what, the best revenge will be watching you failing to achieve your dreams. Do what you can, Ashok. The game has just begun!
Ashok wandered amidst the corpses, helplessly, looking like a dead man walking among the dead. The wailing of people who had lost their loved ones on the battlefield cut into his soul and it was then that he heard a cry for help. 
As realization of the devastation of war seeped in, Ashok decided to dedicate his life towards the betterment of society and try his best to prevent any destruction of life. Realizing he could not do so single-handedly, Ashok created a secret society comprising nine chosen members, who were known as the ‘Nine Unknown’, to help preserve knowledge that, in the wrong hands, could be used to destroy humanity.
Little did Ashok know that the safekeeping of such knowledge had a high price to it; that shadows walk amidst us and that sometimes our actions unspool unimaginable consequences.
The first of two volumes, this book has the power to transform your idea of reality!

Review: Ashok and the Nine Unknown is a nice mix of mythology and facts. The book starts with Ashoka’s repentance after the war of Kalinga and is told through the eyes of two principal characters, Vatsal and Amartya.

“War has a peculiar effect: it changes both the victorious and the vanquished. The question Amartya had asked still haunted Ashok, because he still had no answers for them.”

Do not expect too much from this book as its meant for the casual reader and not for history scholars. If you like reading fiction, this will not disappoint you as the tale is told wonderfully well. The author does not take the trouble to get into descriptions and focuses on the action.

King Ashok was an enigmatic character but sadly his persona has not been utilised to generate enough fictional works centred around his personality which is a bit surprising as he was one of the few rulers of India who managed to unite India into a strong, single entity. It is always fascinating to read about historical characters and therefore this book is a neat, little attempt. It has been researched well and the plot has sufficient merit. The author does have a habit of meandering off and the plot goes off into Egypt and the sphinx which was not required but that’s okay as everything else is pretty organised.

The book is written in a pacy style and has enough thrill and action to hold the curiosity of a reader. Many mythological legends have been exploited in the book and the much discussed torture chamber is also written about. It is a book that has been carefully crafted mixing both mythology and facts. The end result is a pretty good yarn that will surely interest every reader. This is only the first part of what looks like a very promising series.

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