Palace of Assassins, Aditya Iyengar – Book Review

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33140986Leper. Murderer. Hero.

The battle of Kurukshetra has come to its catastrophic end after eighteen long days. As Ashwatthama, the lone survivor of the Kaurava camp, slowly regains consciousness, he realizes, to his horror, that he has been condemned to a life of immortality and leprosy by Krishna, the mastermind behind his opponents’ victory. Burning with hatred for the Pandavas for killing his friend Duryodhana, and stricken
with anger at his own fate, he vows to seek revenge.

When he hears of an infallible gemstone that promises to restore his mortality and cure his leprosy – and allows him to exact vengeance – he is determined to go to any length to acquire it. But he finds himself facing an impossible choice, for his quest could result in the death of the woman he loves.

An exhilarating tale of passion and redemption, Palace of Assassins masterfully recasts the events in the aftermath of the great war and presents Ashwatthama, one of the most misunderstood characters of the Mahabharata, in a whole new light.

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*Review copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

The tale of the Mahabharata is one that I have loved since I was a child. I remember my grandma telling it to me as a bedtime story when I was around 10. Since then, I have revisited this story many times, reading various versions, watching shows and movies. So, yeah, I like it. The characters, the plot, the setting, the world – all of it. It’s an interesting take on politics and war and such.

The tale of Ashwathamma, in particular, is interesting. The son of Guru Dronacharaya, he pledged kinship to Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas and fought by their side in the Battle of Kurukshetra. After the war was over, he was one of the few survivors of the Kaurava camp. He infiltrated the Pandava camp in the dead of the night and killed anyone he could find. For this, he was cursed with immortality as a leper by Krishna. Palace of Assassins explores one of the possibilities of might have happened after he was cursed.

As a story, it flows smoothly throughout, with many characters and plots. I like the writing style of the author. It is interesting and easy to follow. It keeps the reader engaged throughout the story and on edge about what might happen next.

What I love is how Ashwathamma and Dronacharya’s relationship is explored throughout the story. Dronacharya is both his father and teacher and the influence he has had on Ahwathamma’s life is huge. The way it is all hashed in the story is something that I really like. The plot and setting of the story is also very interesting and that is what drew me into the story the most.

What I don’t like is that the first few chapters are really slow and nothing really happens in those chapters. Also, the character of Ashwathamma is not as fleshed out as it could be. It feels like most of the time he was on the sidelines, waiting for something to happen before he could take action.

Since this is a part of a series, I hope that the next books have more for Ashwathamma to do and explore his character more. I’m definitely looking forward to those books!

All in all, this was a great read and I would definitely recommend it to any mythology fans out there!

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