“The Brahmin” – Book Review | Pleasant surprise!

Author: Ravi Shankar Etteth

Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense Thriller

Number of Pages: 252 pages

It is 267 BC. The powerful and ruthless King Ashok is on the throne of Magadha. He trusts no one but his spymaster, The Brahmin, an enigmatic man, a mystery to all. He has built a seemingly impenetrable capital but someone is killing his concubines. One of the girls is murdered and burnt. When her body is discovered, a cestus (just like the ones Queen Asandhimitra wears) is found along with a Blood Flower.. a symbol of the most dreaded assassin who goes by the same name. If he is in Magadha, he is not only a threat to the girls but also to the king and the queen as preparations to wage the great war against Kalinga are on. The King gives the spymaster a week’s time to solve the murder and find out the Blood Flower, irrespective of the connection between the two. What follows is the quest to find the truth.

~~I was sent a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. All views expressed here are completely my own~~
“The Brahmin” is a fast paced thriller. It is a story of power, greed, deceit, conspiracy, loyalty, love and trust. This must alone tell you how diverse the story and the writing is! I did not have much expectations from this book but when I saw it was blurbed by Anand Neelakantan, my expectations soared and thank goodness it did not disappoint me. I soleley picked it up because the Mauryan period was my favorite to learn in history. But on reading I found out it’s many flavours. There were many twists which keep you on your toes!

Of course, being a thriller, the suspense element was the hero of the story but what really set this book apart for me was the characters. King Ashok, Queen Asandhimitra, The Brahmin and Hao.. all of them.. amazing! Such well-written characters. I think the characters themselves played a huge role in the unputdownable quality of the book. The book shows a very different side of the benevolent King Ashok that we know from the history books. The pre-Kalinga War Ashok is ruthless to the point of cruelty. Same for the Queen. It was nice to discover that his Queen was not just a show-piece but someone who played a role in the administration. The world was well set up with really good descriptions which will help ones who are not so well-acquainted with the Mauryan Era get a clear picture of the surroundings as well. This helps the reader delve deep into the story.
The use of myths and legends was commendable as The author very intelligently weaves the story of Ram-Ravan and the many other legends into the story. I find myths very fascinating so it was a big plus point for me!!
However, there was one thing that totally disappointed me.. and that was grammatical mistakes, extremely rare though.. but these things even if you spot one.. they tend to stay at the back of your mind. It is so sad to have to say this after saying so many amazing things about the book. Another proof-reading session could have solved it and I probably would have nothing to say in the negative..
Overall this was one hell of a ride and is highly recommended to any one who enjoys historical fiction and is even barely interested in Indian History. If you are a history buff.. who likes thrillers.. this is a must read! Any one who is looking for a fast paced mystery will enjoy this book!

Rating: four-stars

Have you read the book already? Do you enjoy historical thrillers? Are you excited about reading this now? Leave a comment below!
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