Challenging Destiny: A Biography of Chhatrapati Shivaji; Medha Deshmukh Bhaskaran

I was looking forward to this book, after the author’s historical fiction debut. That one was a well-researched book, but the dramatisation in the fiction wasn’t to my liking; it was trite, and often unimaginative.

Challenging Destiny: A Biography of Chhatrapati Shivaji is a non-fiction book by the author, and is a very well-researched book. It refers to many of the various biographies of Shivaji that are in circulation and makes extensive use of extracts from these books. As the author tells you early on, Mehendale’s biography of Chh. Shivaji is the primary source for this book; needless to say, this book borrows heavily from Mehendale’s biography.

4136rg1qgkl-_sx332_bo1204203200_I was a bit surprised that the author has chosen to use an academic (in-text, APA) form of citation, rather than using endnotes of footnotes, especially given that there are numerous direct quotes from other authors. Perhaps, because of this, the texture of reading seems uneven, at times. There are times in the book, where references (like the definition of a gaon, mauja, and kasbah), are completely out of place, irrelevant, and do not fit in the narrative at hand.

Overall, for someone who does not know the life and times of Chh. Shivaji, it is good first book, which covers his life and career, fairly well. For someone with a more serious interest in history, there are other biographies.

I return to my pet peeve. This book is published by The Write Place, the publishing arm of Crosswords. It is a sorry state of affairs in Indian publishing where copy-editing isn’t given the importance it deserves.

It’s not oddicers, its officers. Not tilted, but titled. And, definitely there isn’t a word called agreeded.

Frontiers of Karma: The Counterstroke; Medha Deshmukh Bhaskaran

I really, really wanted this book to be amazing.

frontiers-of-karma-the-counterstroke-400x400-imadyqbnwftv6pgrIt did start with some promise, I will admit. Deeper into the story editorial fatigue seems to have set in. Without doubt this is a tough history to fictionalise, but this is not the first time it has been attempted (perhaps the first time in English). And any historical fiction brings in a bit of the author and her imagination no doubt. That is what a reader signs-up for, when he picks any historical fiction. Yet, when I consider the possibilities for this story, it fell short.

The book is more of a festival of adjectives, than anything else. Too much of looking at the skies and too many types of clouds. The focus of fictionalising is on embellishments and not the story.

Most of the rating of this book was shaved off because of the typos. In a book of 400 pages, a couple of typos, though unacceptable, is understandable. But after you lose count, especially of typos that can be corrected with a simple spellcheck, it simply makes you sad. Spelling mistakes break the flow of reading; distract attention, and displace you from the engrossed state that a reader should be in. I felt that the author, editor, and publisher have not taken enough care for a book that could have had a huge impact in the historical fiction genre.

I hope the following two books (it’s a trilogy) make for better reading than this one, especially with the spellings.