Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review - The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyengar

Title: The Thirteenth Day
Author: Aditya Iyengar
Pages: 246
Price: 295.00 INR
Publisher: Rupa


‘There can be no peace with the Pandavas now. No hope of conciliation. We’re doomed to kill our cousins, or die in the attempt.’

It is the tenth night of the great war between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Bhishma, the venerable patriarch of the families, lies fatally wounded on the plains of Kurukshetra. On his deathbed, he offers Radheya, his nemesis, a chance to rule the Kuru kingdom by capturing Yudhishthira.

In the Pandava camp, Yudhishthira, a reluctant warrior, tries desperately to hold his allies together and escape capture without appearing to be a coward. Meanwhile, his young and impulsive nephew, Abhimanyu, a warrior prince, dreams of glory and yearns for a chance to save the Pandava cause.

The lives of these three warriors, Yudhisthira, Radheya and Abhimanyu, collide brutally on the thirteenth day.

A story of how stories are created, how fact becomes fiction, how history becomes mythology, and how men become legends.

The Thirteenth Day re-imagines India’s greatest epic in a way that's never been done before.


Aditya Iyengar’s ‘The Thirteenth Day’ is a retelling of our famous epic, the Mahabharata. The book specially revolves around the great war of Bharata between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. For years Mahabharata has fascinated millions of readers and writers with its near realistic portrayal of a family raised amidst a tradition of violence and female subjugation. I’ve always felt that Mahabharata shines a light on an endemically cynical world. Everyone here is corrupt or lying, and hope is in short supply. One can smell the rank desperation in the air. The beauty of the sibling rivalry is such that each of us can relate to it somehow or the other. None of it feels manufactured or fake. It was true then and it is true now.
There’s nothing path-breaking about this book, but it never bores. It’s a meticulously detailed relay of the thirteen days, and Iyengar urges his readers to listen and understand for themselves. He never overstresses or simplifies the facts. The writing is good though stilted at times and I was unimpressed by the incongruous moments of humor that the author had managed to sneak into this intense drama. The writing feels forced in those places.
Iyengar has very cleverly delivered the incidents in chunks because we already know this story and therefore the wise decision to concentrate only on parts of the otherwise complex saga is commendable. The story is written from the point of view of three characters – the Pandava prince Yudhisthira, the Kauravas’ lynchpin Radheya and Abhimanyu. Most of the action takes place either on the battlefield or in the army camps at the end of each day. The women in these protagonists’ lives – Draupadi, Subhadra, Uttaraa – are on the fringes, only sometimes alluded to whereas the entire setting is dominated by men who wield their ego and swagger for the most part. That Iyengar knows the Mahabharata well is obvious in his treatment of his characters, both important and inconspicuous.
The Thirteenth Day is a realistic telling - a storyline that is not dependent on gods, demigods or fantastic weaponry. More history than fiction, the book will be enjoyed by many and I’m certain of that.

About the author

Aditya Iyengar is a writer who lives and works in Mumbai. After having spent a few years writing for advertising and television, he decided to try his hand at something a little different. ‘The Thirteenth Day’ is his first novel. He is currently working on a series of fantasy adventures. Follow him on twitter @adityaiyengar

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I'd like to thank author Aditya Iyengar for letting me review his book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

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