Book Review: The Shadow Throne

The.Shadow.Throne
By.Aroon.Raman




It seems hard to believe that only a couple of years ago I was thinking of the lack of quality Indian writing in the English Language... well, this is one time I am glad that I have been proven wrong. Of late, there has been a literal deluge of class books in almost every genre. In this long line, we now have the latest entrant in the person of Aroon Raman with the delightfully enthralling "The Shadow Throne". And to cut a long story short, it is a good read, and well worth the purchase. 

THE PLOT
Author's Note: It is my intent to place The Shadow Throne against a backdrop that mirrors current underlying reality - especially as it applies to India's current political predicament and its inevitable impact on our security. That we are passing through challenging times on the internal and external security front seems widely accepted, and political and bureaucratic stasis in times like these can have far reaching consequences

Has the Author succeeded in the intent stated above? That is, has he succeeded in creating a chilling plot that has its basis in the statement above? Yes. Unequivocally, yes. The plot revolves around the increasing anger, pain, hatred and intolerance that is making its presence felt in India-Pakistan relations, and is set against the backdrop of a weakened, scandal ridden central government. While the plot is far fetched - or at least seems far-fetched when examined in the cold light of reason, this does not hit you until after you have read the book. Apparently, a section within Indian security agencies see a simple way of neutering both Pakistan and China with a contrived and lethal plan reminiscent of  the CIA's image, thanks to all those lovely fiction books with CIA as the villain! However, unlike the CIA-based spy thriller, it is not one man against an entire system. A police investigation spanning 3 countries, cooperating with the Media, leads to a sequence of events leading to the unraveling of the entire plot. Saying more would be sacrilege, as it would spoil your reading. The overall plot comes across as very, very believable and terrifying, at least while you are reading it.


THE CHARACTERS
Inspector Hassan: Tough, Intelligent with a hidden agenda... only thing is, is this agenda Pro-India, Pro-Pakistan, or...?
Chandra: Well-known freelance journalist, with a nose for trouble....
Meenakshi "Brains with Poise" Pirzada... need I say any more?
Nalini Pant: To Be Brutally Honest, this man is Brutal and Honest!
Gul Mohommad: Top ISI-Spy (And I mean Top), Hassan's cousin. (Did I hear an oh-o? No harm in drawing conclusions, my friends. Conclusions can be right, or wrong, right? Wrong! They can sometimes be confusing as well - like this sentence with its right-wrongs and wrong-rights)


THE ANALYSIS
This is one book where as overdose of analysis can kill the fun of reading, so I shall keep it short. It is an out-an-out spy thriller.It is a good book, with a reasonably fast pace that does not slacken from the first page till the last. What is more, there is not even a single expletive in the entire book from start to finish, not even a teensy-weensy little one, which makes it a truly great read. The characters are well-developed, with not a single bit of needless detail anywhere. Just the right amount of mystery in the main characters; with just the right amount being added at each stage, leading to increased curiosity as well as increased suspense. In other words, truly class character development. The writing style is simple, lucid and uncomplicated making for fun and light reading.

Yes, there are weaknesses. It is not in the class of a Day Of The Jackal; but then, very few books are. In fact, not one single book- east or west, will qualify to be as good as that. Having said that, I found the character development in this book to be among the best I have ever read. However, in my opinion,  the hallmark of a truly great fiction book is it comes across as believable. Unfortunately, as you close the book, you do get a feeling that the story is a little over-the-top and unbelievable, of a lack of reality. Further, the entire Kushan section seems out of place. The novel could have been made a much racier and faster read without it. There could have been other ways to achieve the objective (role in the story) assigned to the Kushans, and would have made it terrifyingly believable. That would, in my opinion, have made the book far more powerful, and you would have kept it down after the last page with but one thought in your mind... "aisaa bhi ho saktaa hai".... This can happen... As it turns out, you dont. You enjoy the read, and have fun while it lasts. It can be re-read, but It is just a great book....

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Comments

  1. This is really worth reading, it has too much details in it and yet it is so simple to understand, Thanks for sharing the picture it has great detail in it and i really appreciate your true artistic work!


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