Urnabhih: Chanakya’s Scribe (Book 2 of the trilogy)
Author : Sumedha V Ojha Ji
Published by IndiaInk (An imprint of Roli Books)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set during the Mauriyan empire, this books starts right where the previous book left of. You do not actually need to read the first book to understand the events taking place in this one as the author provides enough context, but i highly recommend doing so, for getting you really into the thick of things and invest you completely as a reader, the book just hits different when you have actually read the first part. I originally read the book in 2016, after reading a review by Author Saiswaroopa Iyer Ji. Here’s a link to the same. I recommend going through this review too. A Must-Read For Indian History Enthusiasts: A Review Of Sumedha Verma Ojha’s ‘Urnabhih’ (swarajyamag.com)
Skip this paragraph if you do not want spoilers for the first book.)
As i was saying the book picks up right where the first book left off. Misrakesi , Pushyamitra and Siddhartak along with others have returned to Patliputra after a huge win. She discovers she is pregnant with Pushyamitra’s child and they get married. Misrakesi, fulfils the promise she has made to Queen Shalini, and leaves her life of a spy. She then works as an assistant for Acharya Chankya himself, as a scribe to be more precise. Pushyamitra has also now been promoted to a mantri. Things are looking good for the Sunga’s for the foreseeable future. Or are they? With constant Patliputra politics and often with the Sunga’s infact, with Misrakesi in the helm of it, the book is a page-turner. Things turn so bad that Chankaya says that Misrakesi has to act as a link between the Sunga’s and the Maurya’s.
I have to laud the author for the sheer amount of research done in both the books. The characters and the plot mightbe fictional, but the history and the major events that take place are factually on point. We all know the triumphs of the Mauryan dynasty and Acharya Chanakya, these books transport you into their world and make you experience what all it took to unite the Jambudweepa! Which consisted of almost the entire Indian subcontinent and even beyond. One of the greatest empires the world has ever witnessed. Even reading about the politics of the time, the Nagrik Suraksha Vibhag, the spy network , security teams from different parts of the world etc, was very refreshing.
The female characters are very strong. Sometimes quite literally. The entire King’s Gaurd consists of strong female warriors, with Shrunottara being the intimidating chief of Chandragupta’s personal team. In general too, as withe the first book, Misrakesi’s character goes though a complete arc during the period of the book. From being a ganika to being Chanakya’s scribe to fulfilling her motherly duties to learning self defense and other things which i will not discuss as that will be dwelving into spoiler territory. Even the side characters like Madlekha, Mrinalini, Amba(Devi Sulakshana) are very well written. Even some of the main antagonists of the book are strong female characters.
Some things in the book did bother me. And this is a personal opinion as many readers i know do enjoy reading this sort of writing. Once they are married, Misrakesi and Pushyamitra’s honeymoon period starts getting annoying after a point. There’s some scene after every few pages at a point. Dont get me wrong, i enjoy reading my fair share of romance, i am a man afterall. But this gets irritating . In my opinion the romance was perfectly balanced in the first book but here it gets over the top. I would have loved to read more about the roles of Samrat Chandragupta and Acharya Chankya. They had more to do in this book than the previous one yes, but still not enough i felt. The book is titled, Urnabhih: Chanakya’s scribe afterall.
Overall i loved reading both the books and cant wait for the third part ,”The Waters of the Mauryan’s. Which will deal with the rivalry between the Sunga’s and the Satkarni’s ; the drought in the kingdom and other factors. Hopefully the author does not make us wait 8 years this time.
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Book 1: https://amzn.to/3GtfRBb
Book 2: https://amzn.to/3N2GkYz
Thank you for reading!