Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book Review: Empire by Devi Yesodharan

'The strangest flowers,' my brother said, 'have come out of ordinary grass.'

Even though I am not fond of historical fiction (or maybe I haven't tried reading them seriously), I enjoyed reading Empire by Devi Yesodharan (Juggernaut Books). And, it's a big thing as a reader - enjoying the genre you don't read much.

I love books that have women as central protagonists, and Empire, set in the times of Chola dynasty, has Aremis, a strong and only woman warrior, who not only beat all the boys in a tournament but also qualifies to be the throne guard of the Chola King.

'It's not enough to be better than everyone else. I have to be better than their fantasies.' Aremis thinks.

Greek by origin, Aremis or Yavani, still a foreigner among Cholas, has no family and she is not supposed to fall in love. Not allowed to look attractive. 

Empire also tells the story Anantha (Also called as Avvai), the commander of the Chola armies, who develops a special connection with Aremis, which eventually damages the trust she has built in the eyes of the King. Especially when an important battle is waiting ahead!

How her life changes after becoming the throne guard? Why her special connection with Anantha damages the credibility of Aremis? An asset to the kingdom, would she be allowed to fight the battle? Will the Cholas win the battle? You need to read the book to find these (and many more) answers.

Written in first person from two Points of View, this book is intriguing, imaginative, and seems very well-researched. The language is neat and well-suited to this genre. It reflects the culture of the Cholas and spirit of the fighters. 

Characters do (or the author make them do) justice to their roles. The author has expressed the longing and loneliness of Aremis really well. 'There are a few memories so vivid it's like looking at them through a window.'

The fights of Aremis, as a quick-witted, dark warrior with dagger and bow, seem impressive. 

Just one thing - I think, for this story, it would have been better (more vivid - expression/appearance-wise) if it was written in third person PoV.

Overall, this book was a wonderful reading experience, and it has inspired me to read more historical fiction, especially with strong female central characters. If you like reading historical fiction, you must pick this book. Even if you are new to this genre (like me), you should read this well-written book.

I received an (Advance) Review Copy from the publisher for an honest review.

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  1. I generally like historical fiction unless there are too many characters and I find it tough to follow, then I lose interest. This sounds like a decent read, though.

  2. I don't like to read such books based on historical fiction. But as you said it is inspiring and wel written book. Then I think I should try to read it.

  3. @ Tulika: Yes, for me, it was a nice read. And, too many characters annoy me, no matter what the genre is. Thanks for visiting.

    @ Minakshi: Historical fiction was not my favourite genre either, but I liked this one. I have experimented with the genres ad realized that basically it's about interesting writing style and the execution of the story. And, if there's a strong female protagonist, I like it no matter what the genre is. Thanks for visiting.

  4. It's been a long long time that I have touched this genre. However, this book does seem to be an interesting read.

  5. I actually hardly ever read historical fiction. This seems like a good tale. Maybe, my son who enjoys this genre may like this book.

  6. This is a new genre for me too. I should try it.

  7. Historical fiction is one of my fav genre.This tale sounds interesting and gripping. Worth a read for Sure!