Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book Review: 10 Indian Monarchs Whose Amazing Stories You May Not Know by Devika Rangachari

Title: 10 Indian Monarchs Whose Amazing Stories You May Not Know

Author: Devika Rangachari

Publisher: Duckbill Books and Publications Pvt Ltd

‘10 Indian Monarchs Whose Amazing Stories You May Not Know’ by Devika Rangachari is a lively, readable account of the lives of 10 monarchs who ruled over India and the adjacent lands during the late ancient or early medieval times starting from the 7th century.

Many of the rulers mentioned in this compendium are known names though their stories are not relayed as often. While some may be known to readers, most will not. Needless to say, the accounts we read here are the ones that the author found compelling and obscure to some extent.

Among historian and award-winning novelist Devika Rangachari’s subjects are those who will be familiar to most readers, such as Ajatshatru and Bindusara, and those who are not household names including Abbakka and Didda. Almost all overcame great odds to influence their world.

There are very few women rulers written about in history textbooks, not just in India but all over the world. Since most monarchies were patrilineal, the majority of the rulers were men. However, history has seen several prominent female rulers who left indelible mark in the sands of time. Rangachari’s attempt of including these forgotten heroines in this collection is commendable.

Packed with intriguing facts, this comprehensive volume is the perfect introduction to India’s rich and utterly fascinating royal heritage. As the language of this collection is fluid, it doesn’t come across like a history textbook. A small but charming detail about the book is that at the end of each chapter there is a short snippet about how the current geographical regions in India correspond to the kingdom of the erstwhile rulers. This helps visualize the country as it was ages ago.

The well-told stories can be read independently of one another and in any order.

A solid introduction for those who know little about the rulers of the yore.

Dr Devika Rangachari is an award-winning children’s writer whose book, Queen of Ice, was on the White Raven list, won the Neev Young Adult Book Award and has been optioned to be made into a movie/ television series. She is also a historian who has conducted post-doctoral research on gender in early medieval Indian history. Devika is inordinately fond of reading (especially historical fiction), chocolates, potatoes, and exploring bookshops and libraries. She would happily spend her time among her four loves were it not for her lovely-but-stern editors who occasionally compel her to write.

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

* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

** Picture courtesy:, Google

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