Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cuckold -- Kiran Nagarkar

An interesting take on history. If you are as much a stickler for the Maharajah times as I am, you might enjoy this one.

At the centre of Cuckold is the narrator, heir apparent of Mewar, who questions the codes, conventions and underlying assumptions of the feudal world of which he is a part, a world in which political and personal conduct are dictated by the values of courage, valour and courtesy; and death is preferable to dishonor.

Growing up reading the works of Kalki (Sivagamiyin Sabatham, Ponniyin selvan), I have always been interested and intrigued in the Rajathanthiram of those days -- the devious diplomacy and the double-thinking kings had to do to protect their kingdom and subjects. This book offers a lot on those lines, and also surprises me with the mathematics, physics, psychology and project management involved in such a play. Makes you wonder how India has progressed from extremely knowledgeable and wise kings to the ones we have today.

An excerpt:

Puraji Kika and I have divided our army of twenty-five thousand men (I've sent the rest home) into ten units of two thousand and five hundred each. Each encampment is self sufficient with its own courier service, stables and other amenities. The distance between any two camps is two or three miles. If there's an emergency or a sudden enemy attack, a dispatch rider can cover the distance within ten minutes on the outside. We change locations frequently, never more than a fortnight at any one place.

Brilliant. Not to mention the numerous stories intertwined in one. Look out for many familiar historical/mythological characters.

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