Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review : The Mahabharata Quest; The Alexander Secret



I received this book, the Mahabharata Quest, the Alexander Secret, for review, as part of the Blogadda BookReviews Program.

Published by Westland (2014) ,  this is the second book  in the series, the first being The Mahabharata Secret, authored by Christopher Doyle.

The author's name intrigues me.  Forty two years ago, I started my first job in Mumbai, along with another person who joined the same day as I did. The name of this other person was Christopher Doyle.  :-)  

And no . This author is a different Christopher Doyle.  And possibly much younger . As it says in the introduction on the very first page, among many other impressive qualifications,  he has his own band, that plays classic rock, and it is called Mid Life Crisis.   (My colleague and I would have played in the Seniors Band)

I have not read the earlier book. And wondered about the link between Alexander and the Mahabharata.

The narrative flits between various ages and countries.

A time when Alexander the Great, besotted with the idea of being a God, triggered by his mother's revelations about  a metal plaque and inscriptions on cubes, relentlessly drives his soldiers and nobles across the HinduKush, and mindlessly tends to kill those who oppose him, even in conversation.    

It is also about a time , when a US-India Task Force ends up chasing the same in an effort to keep out those who are into perceived bio terrorism and seeking out the same cubes with inscriptions and secrets. There are investigations into finding unexplained corpses in labs, and sudden localised fires destroying pharmaceutical results and data. 

And it is also about a group of international unlimited funding types, belonging to, what is called an ancient secret order, almost dating back to days of Alexander, who are  again, after the origins associated with Alexander's search for becoming a God,  and think nothing of participating in archaeological excavations, then blowing it all up, and killing anyone associated with it.

The Samudramanthan story , the churning of the oceans by the Devas and Danavas, is given a unique interpretation. Shlokas are mentioned, with alternative interpretations, which look plausible. There is an effort to look at the original fable(if you can call it that) in the light of various genetic discoveries at the nano level that are happening in the bio sciences today.  

And all this happens on a wide canvas that ranges across fort structures, hospitals, laboratories, in New Delhi, excavations in Greece, mountains in various East European countries (Kazakhstan et al), Iran/Persia and Afghanistan, and assorted advisory appearances from Washington.

I have lately read many books that also follow the multi country, multi character, multi technology system, and develop a narrative. This review will not explain all the characters and outline a story.  That is left to the reader.

I found that this book seamlessly flits  across ages, countries and characters. More important, these characters are believable, often think like you and me. This may not be important to some, but it keeps one rooted while reading. Yes, there are villains in the story, plenty of them. (I have often developed a cynical attitude with characters-from-novels  in their twenties, with a disdain for morals, money and family responsibility and a complete absence for any kind of restraint regarding words of abuse, which are flouted with impunity; and I have often looked for a mental beep to keep out those words. This book has none of that.)  

One is amazed at the authors research that ranges across the Life and Times of Alexander and his successors and campaigns across Asia,  Greek history mythology and Gods, ancient Sanskrit verses , and most of all,  the science of aging with special reference to viruses, bacteria, and their activities in the DNA of humans, that define a human life. 

The narrative flows well, the detailing of stuff is just sufficiently detailed so it keeps your interest going. It doesn't happen that you start turning the pages to skip excessive detailing of something, something that happens in some books. Unusually, in the book, the government doesn't always win, they actually sit and analyse what went wrong. There are two women characters in the book, Alice and Radha. (If you omit Alexander's mother, the Queen).  They actually function more like synapses, and less like individual neurons in the story.

Somehow, one feels Alice isn't too useful once she gets to Delhi, and one rues the death of Radha. 

The author manages to keep your interest throughout.  And an annexure at the end of the book outlining details of historical characters, and biotech terminology is an excellent idea.

This book would probably ideal for converting it to a screenplay for a movie.  It has it all.  (If they make it in Bollywood, they might end up getting Radha back from the dead, using the knowledge gleaned from the ancient Samduramanthan.  The author may kindly take note   :-)   )

I enjoyed reading this book, and learned many new things.

I hope you will too .


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

1 comment:

  1. I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

    BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!

    www.boycottamericanwomen.com

    ReplyDelete