First thing to say is, I am sure that this book is much decent than Satanic Verses. If Satanic Verses is banned,so should be the books of these sort which trivialise religion.
First of all, it starts with eroticism and then jumps to the writer’s own interpretation of the characters of Mahabharata –
Dharma is shown as an incapable person to rule and demands whatever he wants citing rules including his brother’s wife, Panchali as an orphan adopted into the royal family and the actual power behind Dharma’s throne and the lover of Govinda, Veda Vyasa, a lecherous old man enjoying raping princesses and a scheming fanatic, Suyodhan, a good man tied up by the circumstances, not at all impacted but enjoyed the scene when Panchali laughed in Mayasabha, Govinda, a full blown politician with a single aim and no human emotions, Dhritarashtra trying hard to put his son on the throne whatever happens, Aswathama a nice and powerful king and socialist by heart, Shikhandin, the crown prince of Panchala whom the king disowned.
Next, the relationships.I am not sure how manyof them are the author’s creation –
Sudakshin is the king of Kashi.I don’t know any Sudakshin except Duryodhana’s Maharatha
Devala was an estranged brother of Dhaumya
Satyavati, the princess of Matsya
Rukmavati the daughter of Rukmi whom Pradyumna eloped away with.
Now coming to the story.
There are three groups. First Borns who stayed as sages and advisors, Firewrights who stayed as scientists and weapon makers, the rulers. After the destruction of Matsya because of firewright handiwork resulting in drying up of Saraswati, everyone sanctions a scourge of firewrights. The head of the group is Vyasa and Bhishma and Govinda the main scorges. First,the head of the firewrights is killed triggerig the fall of balance. Then, Pradyumna elopes Rukmavati, the daughter of Rukmi who is bethroted to Sisupala. Then it goes as Govinda’s gaining of allies in his fight against Jarasandha – his friends being Panchala princes Dhrushtadyumna and Shikhandin and then his scheming of Panchali’s marriage to Partha and Dharma demanding her as his wife, and then encouraging Partha to elope with his sister, Govinda giving him the idea of becoming the emperor by burning Khandava for him and by dethroning Jarasandha which they achieve by sneaking into his palace and Bhima killing him, and before anyone gets an idea of the chaos, props Dharma up and sends armies in all directions. After a trouble created by Sudakshin of Kasi with the support of Devala Asita which they successfully overcome, the kingdom is finally complete and the time for anointing Dharma as the king is done. Bhishma declares Govinda as the holder of the First Honour, Sisupala opposes it saying he ran away from battle at Mathura, he killing his own uncle and Jarasandha, he being a cowherd and what not and then takes on Bhishma as well. After that, he surmises Govinda is a firewright by his chain of argument and Govinda kills him before revealing it. Panchali confronts him and he confirms the same. She tells him not to come to Indraprastha. But, he says, he is not the secretkeeper of the firewrights. We will come to know who the actual firewright is in the next book of the series.
Overall, if the names of the characters is not the same as that of religious characters, it will be a good read. The book tries to be on a philosophical and oppurtunistic note where oppurtunities are created and they are explained philosophically, where wars were avoided and small skirmishes were shown with vivid detail.