Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cold and Calculating, Chanakya's Chant.

I loved the cover!
For me the name Chanakya symbolises kind, generous and insanely intelligent. (I had a childhood friend named Chanakya who was so dear to me!) Boy-oh-boy was I in for a rude shock.  ‘Chanakya’s Chant’ helped me remove my own personal bias towards the name and took me down a wonderful historic lane.

The almost 500-page book broadly comprises two parts; one which is present day and the other 2,300 years ago. The Chanakya’s time is what great Indian history lessons were about when I was growing up. Full of war, revenge, culture and dharma. In the Gangasagar’s (read Chanakya’s present day form) time is an excess of political drama, money, power and some temporary scarring. The last one was only for me of course.
But my favourite part of the book has got to be Chandini Gupta (sounds even like Chandragupta). Yes, feminist me loves her. She represents so many good things we need in the modern world. But depressingly, her being single at the top, is another debate altogether.
The description on the back cover reads, ‘Cold, cunning, calculating, cruel and armed with a complete absence of accepted morals’. I tried, but there is no better way to describe this book. It is apt in describing the mood and feel of the book. I was often tempted to shut the book and calm myself for what-just-happened in the book was too ghastly. The warm fuzzy moments are a bare minimum. Instead expect tonnes of entertainment and drama.
Drenched in History, this book is very well researched and clever. The sourcing of suitable quotes weaved into the conversations might have been a tad bit overdone. In some places. Morally, I am far from going to agree with even one-tenth of the plots in this gripping book. But I must admit, I was warned.
The present time scenes for me were slightly less convincing. More ruthless than I imagined or thought necessary. As in, I ended up hating Gangasagar way more than I hated Chanakya. My soft corner for the name is still the problem? I think not.
The flitting between the two parts is my second favourite part. It is smooth and beautifully done. The two stories ran parallel and they developed together. It never made me expect what would happen next in the other one though. However, when one part ended I always ended up hating it. No matter which era it was. I take that as a sign that the book was a great read. 
This switch also kept me going as I was too involved in the parts and craved to know more. Literally.
It did drag a little in the middle but the last 100 pages more than made up for it. It was a refreshing read in terms of genre. It was a draining read in terms of what it symbolises.
I felt pretty cynical when I flipped the last page and read the last word. Despite this, I will suggest you grab a copy and read it. I would love to know what you thought of it.
It has its glitches, but its pace and thrills kept me thoroughly entertained. But just remember it is fiction. So do leave your morals behind. Else you are not going to like chunks of it and sure as hell are going to curse Gangasagar and Chanakya straight to hell. 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


Red Handed said...

I now wish i too had applied for the book review

Prathm said...

I love cursing people to hell! I am so good at it!

I feel a strange anxious wish to read it.

Something like how you want to look over the edge of the roof of a very tall building knowing that its going to make you go weak in the legs!

Parth Jhala said...

So Im kinda reviewing a review here! :P
You did a good made it pretty clear to the potential reader of what to expect and at the same time you let a little mystery linger over it. I dont think thats an easy thing to do! Doesnt fit into my type of book but Im tempted!

SUB said...

i hav put that in my flipkart wishlist...was waiting for a review...thanks :)

deeps said...

now you have tempted me....

Chintan said...

i can not do a book review :( bravo to you girl! and 500 page...more bravo. i can hardly read a magazine properly these days, suffering from short attention span....a very well written post :) and thanks for the visit..

Prateek said...

CC is a very thoroughly researched and ridiculed book. I loved it from page one or theology intrigues me can be the other way round.

Mi said...

I loved this book too.. It made me think, along with entertaining me..

The review was a good read!

Nice job!

PS: I have an author signed copy of this book:D

shuuuu said...

I loved Chanakyas Chant..... It is infused with politics, observation and just plain logic... every time Gangasagar Mishra spoke I wanted to meet him :P

Ashwin Sanghi is talented and has a keen sense of politics... brilliant :)