Review: Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts

Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts by Anuja Chandramouli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prithviraj was the last Hindu ruler of India before Muhammad Ghori established the Muslim rule in India. There are many myths associated with him. Chanderbardai, the court poet wrote “Prithviraj Raso” which project him as a legend. This book is not a copy of Bardai’s work.

The book does not start with Prithvi as a king. That comes much later maybe after half the book is done. This shows his father and uncle and how he grew up from a kid. There is palace intrigue, wars, assassinations and his training. His uncle Kanha is not ambitious and is happy to serve his brother. There are rumors that Prithvi is his son as he is very handsome unlike his ugly father. He saves a girl named Yogita from bandit like thugs and brings her to his palace. They fall in love only to grow apart. Then there is attacks from Shabuddin Ghori and famous battles.

The book is pretty thick and cannot be finished in one sitting. But that is all right. I came to know many new things, which are against popular myths. Alha Udal for instance have legendary status in this part of India (I live in Meerut UP). They met their death from Prithvi’s hands. Then Yogita is not Sanyogita and Prithvi never kidnapped her from Jaichand’s home. She was not even his daughter as per popular myth. Prithvi was also not against Muslims as such but only fought bloodthirsty plunderer Ghori. He never pardon his life but it was a mistake that Ghori was left alive.

The horrible practice of showing the blood soaked bed sheet after first night to prove virginity of bride was a new revelation to me. So were dialogues of Prithvi and Chisti. The sufi sect represent soft peace loving Islam which is different from the Islam practiced by the likes of Ghori.

There are few hiccups as well. The book took too much time to come to the point. The book is about Prithvi but Anuja wasted (harsh word but true) almost half the book till he ascends the throne. That left very little time to show him in action. Also the character of Ghori and other adversaries got just passing mention and they were not fleshed out. Prithvi and Ghori are like Ram and Ravan and Ghori needed more detailing. Then Jaichand and all others were given no importance whatsoever except when Yogita comes to Prithvi in fag end. I am also sure that Anuja must have done her research (the references are given in theend) but the story is slightly deviating from the popular stories of Prithvi. Then the story was too slow at many places where not required. On the other hand it was rushed at some important junctures. One instance is the climax where Prithvi is executed.

I have read mythological books from Anuja and I can’t resist the comparison. I read to historical fictions from Anuja: “Padmavati” and “Prithviraj”. The overall quality as compared to her myths is lesser. The book has inferior language and plotting. However I liked this one better than “Padmavati”. Maybe these books were written in deadline pressure.

All in all a very enjoyable read barring few hiccups. 4/ 5 stars.

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