Title: The Peshwa — The Lion and the Stallion
Author: Ram Sivasankaran
Having reviewed another book with a similar subject very recently, choosing Ram Sivasankaran’s ‘The Peshwa — The Lion and the Stallion’ was more a result of customary satisfaction on my part than any desire born out of curiosity. I was hoping for a similar treatment of the historical characters with nothing new at offer. But was I wrong! Even though historical incidents make for a constricted storytelling, it is ultimately the writer’s prowess that sets apart his/her book. And Sivasankaran has done full justice with his debut novel. There is a nice blend of fiction and history in this book that promises a great reading experience.
The novel is set in the 18th century. Mughal Empire is on its decline and the Maratha Confederacy has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Indian Subcontinent. Nizam Ul Mulk of the Mughal Empire, whose ambitions know no bound, wants to end the Maratha Confederacy by eliminating their biggest warrior – the Peshwa Balaji Vishvanath Bhat. There are enemies within the Maratha fold who would go to any lengths to fulfill their desires – even attack the Chhatrapati.
After the demise of Balaji Vishvanath Bhat, the Peshwa’s son, Bajirao Bhat, ascends the position of Peshwa and must utilise his scant military and administrative experience to deal with the enemies facing the empire.
What I liked best about the book was the timeframe chosen by Sivasankaran. He has wisely picked up the story before Bajirao became the Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy and ended with the victory of his first war. This particular span shows us the transformation that Bajirao Bhat underwent in order to become the famous Maratha Peshwa who was rumoured to have never lost a single battle in his carrier. He also comes across from being an adolescent who was more lost than he dared to accept to becoming a surefooted and able warrior. He’s a son, a husband, and a father. He’s yet to meet the love of his life that would make him a subject of many a speculations of the incurable romantics. He’s yet to be pared with Mastani.
Sivasankaran has kept the language of the book fluid. The descriptive tools employed are vivid and powerful. Right from the glossy cover to the elegant illustrations scattered throughout the pages in addition to a powerfully written story of valor, love, and loyalty — the package as a whole makes quite the impression. That a debut can be so successfully executed says enough about the writer in the making.
About the Author:
Ram Sivasankaran was born in Madras, India, but has spent most of his life abroad, largely in the Middle East and the United Stated of America. He was brought up on stories from Hindu legend and the great epics and classics of both India and the West. In addition to being a passionate student of history in school, Ram has built a keen interest in stories of valour, heroism, chivalry, beauty, and romance.
A daydreamer of sorts, Ram believes deeply in the power of imagination---the mind being the canvas on which even the seemingly talentless can create new universes, resurrect eras long gone, bring the gods to life and even revive heroes and damsels of yore. Ram makes his debut with a historical novel on one of the greatest and yet, to an extent, less known figure from Indian history — Bajirao Bhat, Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy, mighty warrior, hopeless romantic and one of the most dazzling examples of wartime courage, military readership and battle strategy.
I'd like to thank the author for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!
* I received a review copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in