‘Empire’ by Devi Yashodharan
Devi Yashodhran’s debut novel, a historical fiction, that will teleport you to the time of Cholas and to their port city Nagapatinam.
Author: Devi Yashodhran
Rating : 3/5
It is the 11th century, Rajendra Chola is at the peak of his power. A Greek pirate ship sails in to loot the richness of the port Nagapatinam . Brutally assaulted by the Cholas, they surrender. They are forced by Anantha, the Supreme commander of the Cholas, to pay a compensation and there starts the story of our central protagonist, Aremis.
Aremis is a 11-year-old girl, Greek by origin, but a homeless in the city of Nagapatinam. She is quick-witted. A trained sword fighter. Tall with broad shoulders, copper colored braids, and a pale complexion, she draws attention quickly out in the streets among the Cholas. People call her not by her name, but “yavvani”. The foreign one.
Aremis gets trained to become a warrior along with the other Chola students. She is a woman with a dagger and bow. Impressed by her outstanding gallantry during the day of the final tournament, the king chooses her to be the throne guard. She slowly grows to be an asset to the Cholas, the only woman warrior in the palace. But, she is treated as an immigrant, and she faces perpetual hurdles in the patriarchal society. A woman of courage and valor, the emperor trusts her and then her life takes unexpected turns when she steps forward to help Anantha. She is expelled from the palace and from her post. The rest of the story is how she manages to prove herself as an essential person in the court and in the brutal war that is waiting ahead.
The story is narrated from view point of Aremis and Anantha, in a language that’s very simple and a flow that’s not complicated. There are places where the pace slackens, making you skim through the pages. But, the last two chapters compensates for that. The war scenes and the sea voyage are beautifully portrayed. However, the end of the story is brief and abrupt. Devi’s work of weaving historical facts and fiction is impressive and deserves applaud. She takes us beautifully through the streets of the port city Nagapatinam and the adventurous of Chola dynasty that were less explored. She adds nativity to the script by using the old Tamil names like “vaithiyar”, “yavvani” that were prevalent those days.
This may not be a gripping novel that you may find difficult to detach, but will increase the curiosity to know more about the Cholas. And don’t be surprised to find the strong woman warrior flirting with the Queen’s handmaid!
Devi, are you coming with a book 2 for Aremis. ?
P.S: You can get a copy of the book from www.juggernaut.in