I have been avoiding reading any more of Mythological fiction, I have had enough of that genre after reading many of them – Shiva Trilogy, Sita’s Ascent, Gind and Scion of Ikshvaku. This week my son convinced me to read “Ten Kings” by Ashok Banker, yet another Mythological fiction.
The book is the first of Ithihasa series by Ashok Banker. Ten Kings ( ‘Dasarajna’ in Sanskrit) is based on a story from hymns appearing in Mandala 7 in Rig Veda, which is one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism and estimated to be written around 1700-1100 BC. Rig Veda has thousands of Hymns in praise of Vedic Deities including Agni (Fire Deva) and Indra (Leader of Devas). King Sudas is the leader of the Trtsu tribe who was cultivating in the fertile land of five rivers (present-day Indian North West & Pakistan regions of Punjab) was attacked one day by neighbouring Ten Kings together. Sudas was outnumbered more than 1 to 10 (6000 soldiers to 60000 soldiers). Enemies had battalions of Elephants, Chariot and more. The story talks about how against such an odd and over a single day King Sudas won.
The book begins with an argument between the two great sages of Ancient India, Brahmarishi Vishwamitra and Brahmarishi Vashishta on the way Bharata nation is to be built, which King Sudas and his two children Indradaut and Indrani overheard as they came to Mount Uttunga (The Tall One) for a fun ride in their horses. Not able to comprehend what the argument meant, Sudas sees from the mount top a score of horse riders chasing his border security guard. He goes to his rescue and then returns to his palace to find his Brother in Law King Anu seated on the Sudas throne. After a failed legal coup, Anu and rest of the Kings declare war against Sudas. With only Guru Vashishta to his aid, Sudas goes on to win the battle by using the familiarity and knowledge of his lands geography.
Compared to other books from the same genre, Ten Kings feels easy to read with a gripping first half. The book had limited preaching from the Author, which I appreciate.