While some books are pacy and thrilling, some are rich, slow and unputdownable. Very few, not only fall in one of these categories but also act as an escape from reality. Historical fiction trumps that category by making even time travel possible! In these strange times, when most of us are overwhelmed by the present, books like Parthiban's Dream will immerse you in the drama, grace and magic of the past... And how delightful to see Shefali Ganesh, a freelance writer, picking up these key ingredients of the book and stringing them together in this succinct review!
“Father, did you draw these?” asks Prince Vikraman. “Yes, I did. These last twelve years, night and day, asleep or awake, these are the dreams that I have seen… Today, the Cholas are insignificant vassals. Hemmed in by the Cheras, the Pandiyas, and the Pallavas, we have diminished to a fist-sized land. Our ancestors were renowned emperors… To return this glory to the country that I love so much- that is the desire that fills my heart to overflowing.
This is the dream I see… night and day, asleep and awake...”
I am reading Parthiban’s Dream, an English translation of the Tamil masterpiece by award-winning author Kalki Krishnamurthy (first published in 1934 by @tulikabooks).
The book takes us back to between the 6th and 9th century, when the UNESCO site, Mahabalipuram’s famed Shore Temples are being built. These are times when Tamil Nadu is divided in rule between the Pallavas, Pandyas and the Cholas – the three dynasties that set their mark on India’s history. These were times when the Pallavas were reigning in full glory with Emperor Narasimha Varman on the throne. King of the Cholas, Parthiban rules over a small kingdom, a good king to his subjects, but boxed in on all sides by the Pallavas and the Pandyas.
The book is not just about history, but is a racy thriller that starts with King Parthiban who dreams of a most powerful Chola empire. He dies in war with Emperor Narasimha Varman and leaves his son Prince Vikraman the lost heritage of the Cholas and the ancestral sword.
There are plots and sub-plots, many a mystery, some history and characters that come alive in a land that is described as lush green, watered by the River Kaveri. Fast plots and simple narratives brought history to the common man in Kalki’s works.
Parthiban’s Dreams is for the reader (teen upwards) who loves history, culture, fiction but unfortunately can’t read their mother tongue (like yours truly!). I’m hoping my 11-year-old will pick this up soon...
A word on the translator, Nirupama Raghavan – a teenager (then) who has done a brilliant job at capturing a tone into simple yet eloquent words.
Back in October 2019, we found out that our chapter book Parthiban's Dream was chosen as part of the English 'Non-detail' syllabus for students of class eight at a Samskaara Academy in Coimbatore. What a delight!
Click here to get a copy of this thrilling page-turner for your children or any loved one!
If you've already read it and have a review, we'd love to feature it here!
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