I simply love Mythological books and as the latest trend there is a plethora of Mythological Fiction available, which is even great for someone like me. I keep taking breaks from the heavier stuff and I need these books to go back to normal life especially when I am done with one of scariest thrillers or horrors. They work wonders for me, although I am hardcore Non-believer but love the story aspect of the same. I don't know how and when it all started but joining my hands in front of a statue is not my thing, I do not deny the presence of a supreme power but thats that. Now, when it comes to books specially (mytho) fiction, I have read a lot of them and mostly liked them, some I loved, some I hated too thats life for a book-lover. It all started with Amish Tripathi's "Shiva Trilogy" which I totally loved and finished back to back, had never imagined Shiva like that, I always loved him as God of death, the destroyer and was always in awe with his character, might, life and story behind it. Next I moved to Ashwin Sanghi's works and they were even better researched barring his latest which wasn't a mytho but didnt work for me at all. While I kept reading whatever I could lay my hands on but I was looking for something based on one of my favorite character (Karn) from the Epic Mahabharat till I got hold of Chitra Divakaruni Bannerjee's "Palace of Illusions" WHOA! that was a mind blowing book and I must say this that works of Amish and Ashwin Sanghi and company just paled in front of her imagination (mean fiction), totally awesome and I thought my search ended there, till I got Kavita Kane's "Karna's Wife - The Outcast's Queen".
If I go back in time to my school days, I vaguely remember our 5th or 6th standard CBSE curriculum, we had "Sankshipt Mahabharat" and "Sankshipt Ramayan" as a part of Hindi Literature. I was never a "Ram guy" but I was more of someone totally in awe with either "Karn or Krishna" both were my type of guys who never got their due. Even while the Doordarshan days, I am sure you will agree that these two TV serials were totally fantastic and sent us closer to our mythological epics and were unbelievably terrific (then). But if you watch them today, you will find them hilarious to say the least but the character of Karn was so well played by Pankaj Dhir, I can still not forget his name I guess and the one of Bhishm Pitamah were carved out totally beautifully. While reading Palace of Illusions as well as Karna's Wife - their faces kept coming to my mind and believe me when I say this, so many dialogues that they had in the book I actually ended up reading the way these two would have said those lines, with pauses, laughter, anger and all other emotions. The Book, the story, the characters and the way it is told is totally mind-blowing and outstanding work of fiction I must say. Kudos to Kavita Kane's imagination and story telling, it was totally hooking stuff and one that I will never forget in my life, also will look forward to read it again sometime soon. Although Palace of Illusions didnt had much scope for mighty Karna's character but with Karna's Wife, its a different story as in its entirety it is dedicated to the misread, misjudged man who was right, righteous and just but at the wrong side of the things.
Before I read this book, I had no idea whether Karn was married or not. Oh Yes! who can forget the scene at Draupadi's swayamwar where she turns down Karn for being a Sutputra and not a Kshatriya, actually that is where the rivalry between her and him starts and what turn it takes, we all know so well. Of-course since its a work of fiction, the writer takes her own liberty with the story but the characters are all real. Reading a mythological epic that too which is told to death in our part of world by word of mouth through parents, books, stories and what not. I always wondered what new these writers could come out with but let me tell you offhand, if you plan to read this one, be ready for shocks, surprises and breathtaking moments too, even after knowing what is coming next, what works in favor of fantastic story telling is, how it happens and comes out in the book. I always imagined it will be a "been there done that" experience but no, I was so wrong, this book was very well able to invoke so many emotions in me, it made me smile, laugh, cherish, it even made me hold my breath so many times in anticipation of things to come and shock me. There was this moment when I knew that the war between the right and wrong is inevitable still just for a while it was so convincingly that it felt like they will be able to stop it, Unbelievable?? you've got to read the book to know that. So is the power of words and Kavita Kane's imagination yet a very convincing story telling with so many emotions.
If you have read this, do let me know how you like it and if you have not, I guess you need to read it big time. I will move to her next "Sita's Sister" and see what impact that has on me.