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Monday, October 8, 2012

Book Review: The Shadow Throne


How would you feel if you suddenly got up and find out you are back in time? How would you feel all the movies you have in bollywood are time-themed? That's how I feel when I see the literature available today. How wonderful is tha to a history lover! Aroon Raman brings out a hot thriller that matches Ek Tha Tiger and probably Jab Thak Hai Jaan and a couple of other romantic crime thrillers. Ok minus the romance but then this is a men's movie with a woman cracking the case.

Chandra is a journo who is recovering from the death of his wife to cancer. He is entangled by Hassan, mostly willingly falls for a scoop of a story. He has to know more for himself than the the news article that would come from the plot. What starts with a murder of a flat-skulled giant thrown from the top of Qutub minar ends up in a chase from the caves of Afghanistan to the Pak- India border. What happens in between is like any other old thriller, only here we have a nuclear disaster to avert. But am surprised that I could finish a 300+ page book in two days flat.

Let's analyze the characters a bit without giving away the suspense of the book. Chandra is a unwilling crime seeker with a penchant for mysteries and a freelancer. His wife's friend Meenu plays an excellent teacher or professor who could come up with a choice solution to a riddle Tom Hanks could only dream of solving because she is a history professor! But I love the concept of RAW and ISI working together to solve the sovereignty of two states. Chandra exhibits a rare love for History and travel and is taken on a roller-coaster tide to unveil a nerve wringing thriller and as always he is cool as a cucumber because he is taking notes in his brain all the time.

Hassan, on the other hand, is a double agent trying to figure out what it right to do! Let us put it this way till you read the book. Hassan is trained and is mechanical when he is executing what his bosses want him to be doing and even otherwise. What we come to know is a multifaceted character with a single mean goal. Hassan also plays a good Salman Khan in the book and ends up mashed, tattered and tortured. What else can you get through when you have nothing to lose!

The other characters in the movie are the agents who play smart and cool. What I liked about them is that the book refers to them by names and designations that needn't be remembered as they have helped execute a plot so supreme that they are not significant in the story. What is measured as an outcome is a prophesy that makes the whole attention go on with a could of million lives at stake. Aroon takes it to his best of skills here when he brings the massive villain with a cult following and how he is remarkably versatile with the ways of the world and psychologically plays with everyone.

As I always believe, the greater the villain, the better the plot and the chance for the hero's redemption. I also love the fact that there are no artificial love scenes in the book and is very practically written. Aroon deserves a pat on his shoulder for what he has come up with but there are point which could improve the story. For example how can someone finish off so many things and slip out to Afghanistan so easily from India? A touch of Uncle Sam's troops and an agenda to include them would have helped. A slice of brotherhood in India and Tibet or China would have helped too.

What I would have done to end it in a perfect note would be to have an attempt on Hassan's life and a letter in Chandra's home stating that the Shadow throne still is on and you better watch out! I feel the book ended... how do I put it... too easily.

Rating: 2.5/5

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