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Monday, 24 November 2014

The Mahabharata Quest the Alexander Secret - Book Review

Christopher C. Doyle's The Mahabharata Quest the Alexander Secret is an attempt on the part of the author to explore the science behind the tales in Mahabharata.

In Greece the tomb of Alexander's mother is discovered. Alice is one of the archaeologist who has worked on its discovery. Her colleague is murdered and his murderers are after her life as well. She slips through the attempt on her life along with a prized possession – a cube with inscriptions, which she had picked from the tomb. Instead of going back to her home in US, she lands up at Junagarh fort where her erstwhile beau Vijay is staying. Vijay's parents were archaeologists as well. They died in a road accident but have left behind plethora of papers. The plot is known to the author. So he believes all the characters know what is going to happen next. So all the hunches are acted upon very confidently. From the papers left by his parents, Vijay, his ex and present girlfriend, father of the present girlfriend and his friend make a trip to the museum. Alice's predators have traced her up to the museum. Plus there is a cop who discovers corpses which are hidden in a lab. The lab is run by a company whose director had funded Alice's excavation in Greece. So Vijay's present girlfriend Radha goes to get some first hand news from the lab and is in turn kidnapped. So Vijay offers to solve the mystery of the cube as a barter for Radha's life. The killers belong to an Order, whose details are not revealed. Even Alexander's mother was a member of the said order. She had shared the secret of being immortal with her son.

As stated earlier the problem with the Mahabharata Quest the Alexander Secret is that all the characters like the author know what is the secret. They act upon their whims. They are very much convinced rather are confident of their guesses. The result is – the manner in which the protagonist and his team find out Alexander was on a look out of bio-terrorism turns utterly ridiculous. Plus the bio-terrorism angle is abandoned mid-way to give way for immortality. None of the characters have a life of their own. Their character sketches should have come out better.

Lines like “Riley had reported in a while back” tell volumes about the writing style of the author. The author chooses jargons in an attempt to make the novel classy. But it only makes the comprehension difficult. The verbose descriptions are not interesting. The garrulous tone of the novel should have been reduced.

The way the narrative shifts between Alexander's era and today's times is definitely interesting. However, the way in which the team infers that it had all to do with Alexander is not at all convincing. Hence, the shift is wasted. It loses all its effectiveness owing to the lack of conviction.

When Radha had emailed from a laptop, how does the cop trace her location through her cell phone? The protagonist and the team members rely too much on the internet for the research and interestingly they do find answers to most of their riddles that too relating to the ancient science of immortality on the internet.

As regards Mahabharata and its secrets are concerned, the novel revolves around Samudramanthan. Now in no way Samudramanthan has been a high point in the story of Mahabharata. Whenever you think of Mahabharata, what comes to your mind? Isn't it the conflict between two sets of brothers? Isn't it Lord Krishna and Draupadi's disrobing? No where Samudramantan comes to anyone's mind when we talk of Mahabharata. So the whole Mahabharata thing is misleading.

The frequent references to the author's previous novel also mar the narrative. This novel is not a sequel to the author's first novel. At least the blurb or acknowledgments do not say so. Moreover the end says to be continued. At the fag end there is a note by the author saying that the open ends, the discrepancies in the novel are intentional as the same will be answered in the upcoming books of the writer. This is nothing but cheating. If the author desired to come up with a series, he should have mentioned it in unequivocal words in the preface, blurb and even on the cover. The note at the end gives the reader a feeling of being cheated.

I feel it is high time that Indian thriller writers should come out of the clout of Dan Brown and let their creative juices flow.

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