Satya, Treata ,Dvapara-all three Yugas has gone by. The god is still asleep and the world is gaining its potentiality. Both the positive and negative attitude within a person are missing and so human has started to justify every action under the clout of dharma-nobody knows whether it is right or wrong. Pratiharas-the guardians of the mortal world are guarding this world like the apple of their eyes so that no trespassers can penetrate into this world. The sixteen states of the AryaVarta are in a state of mutual coexistence -where republics like Vaishali are in a state of cooperation and peace with a powerful kingdom like Magadha. Some savage tribes are trying to challenge the powerful states like Magadha- although their feeble efforts are crushed every time like war hammer of a Magadha soldier crashes the head of a helpless tribal soldier.
But this time it is something unusual, something highly improbable starts to happen!
In this backdrop starts this fascinating saga of duty, honour and revenge –“Age of Apostasy-knife edge” by Abhijeeth Hiliyana-where mythological imagination touches its zenith and historical facts gives a flawless replication of sixth century B.C. India. It’s a strange world where supernatural fights with the natural, irrational locks horns with rational, Dharma is in a battle with Adharma and untruth is in a truce with truth. Is this apocalypse? Or something else?
What is happening at this transition of times?
Let us take our gaze to this wonderful story which literally hooked me up from cover to cover! This is year ending time in our office and we hardly get time out of home and office but this book compelled me to finish it in one go!
Savage, barbaric tribes are trying to destabilise the frontier of Magadha Empire and it is usual for them to engage in conflicts with the famed general of the Magadhian army-Gaja and it is also usual for them to get defeated at the hands of the army of Magadha and their brave heart Mahasenapati. But this time something is different. In the words of the writer
“Yes sir, we bloodied them. But we got licked in turn. The tactic of creating a gap and charging in was different. It was almost as though we are facing a skilled tactician.”
……..’They are learning too fast if you ask me. Their army was completely different .their foot behaved more like disciplinary infantry than the usual rabble that we encountered.”
And in the next conflict something unbelievable did happen-they were confronted with the commander of the tribal army.
“Gaja could see the creature’s skin was a chalky green, the surface of which seemed to be covered with thick scales, as though furnishing in natural armour. But it was the face that shook him; it was huge, with the skull tapering down to a pronounced snout. The creature’s face looked like a cross between a human and a crocodile.”
Seasoned old general with the experience of thousand battles didn’t have any difficulty in recognising their strange commander. He was Nivatakavacha-‘a celestial Asura who lives in the depths of the netherworlds Rasatala.’
But how it can be? Those demons were supposed to be in exile under the darkness of the netherworlds after they were defeated in the battle between Devas and Asuras-until the end of the Kali yuga. And his human soldiers are no match to this supernatural creature.
Gaja gazed helplessly at his soldiers getting butchered at the hand of the demon.
Until, he was forced to attack the demon with a long forgotten divine weapon.
It was the end of the demon and temporary cheers for the army-but nobody knows how many are there walking on the earth-who are not, supposed to be there.
From there the story takes a dramatic turn-Gaja was informed that the young emperor would likely to get engaged in Ashwemedha-that will pronounce him as undisputed emperor of the land.
When imminent danger is knocking at your doorsteps, your survival is at stake-can you afford the luxury of getting cosmetized? So Gaza took himself to a mission –to convince the young emperor about the extremity of the frontier danger. And meanwhile he asked his men to take shelter in the safe harbour of the kingdom of Kekya.
But is Kekya safe? When they reached the city –a city of ghosts welcomed them. The city is in total ruins-and no trace of any mortal anywhere.
“The city walls are filled with strange drawings, writings, in some kind of script, which none of us could recognise. They were drawn with blood”.
And a scholarly soldier from their rank and files had informed them that the script belongs to the Asuras!
Turn of events, climax and anti climax will sure to mesmerise the reader form the beginning to the end of the book.
Anyway, where the mission of the Mahasenapati will ultimately take him? Will he be able to convince the emperor that it is better to stable the empire from within before going to external aggression? Or will his mission land him to a bigger trouble?
And who is the mysterious lady who is after Gaja-as swift as death, is after Gaja?
And why the Asuras have returned to earth again? What old wound they seek to heal this time?
Meanwhile the commander of the army of Gaja seeks to find the truth behind the sudden appearance of Asuras,Rakshas and Pichasa-and found the truth in behind. Will he be able to succeed in his quest of restricting the entry of these supernatural creatures into the mortal world again?
Where everyone is in uncertainness, everyone seems to justify their action. “As though the concept of Dharma was uniform universally, kings waged wars and often indulged in massacring of the entire population, all in the name of Raja Dharma… Soldiers completed to kill one another in the name of Kshatriya Dharma. Women were made to suffer in the name of Pativrata Dharma.”
Will they all be able to stand ultimately on the firm ground of belief ultimately?
What will be the fate of the human world?
I do not want to be a spoiler anymore –so it’s your turn to get enthralled.
And at the same time discover what humanity is all about-life may be fragile, but human will is indomitable!
The humanity that could not be abandoned at any cost!
I got this book as part of Goodread’s first read initiative.
Read about this book at Goodread’s at the link below-