Genre: Mythological Fiction
Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala
Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?
I have always been fond of Indian mythology, and one woven with fiction, I feel, adds its own intrigue to the tale. The fact that the story has been imagined based on a few verses of Rigveda adds to the appeal of the story and it satisfies the reader in me at all the levels.
In the backdrop of ancient India, the tale is about Avishi from Vrishabhavati who loses her entire family to a conspiracy, and is taken to a holy ashram of Naimisha, a dwelling of Rishi’s and sages who set the rules for all kingdoms of Jambudvipa, and they also train the children in various skills. Avishi chooses to be a warrior, and after her training, is sent to Ashtagani to find and fulfill her mission and existence. Soon she heads the military force of Ashtagani and trouble starts to brew because of evil ambitions of the king of the neighboring city, her birth place.
The author has woven a spell binding tale which does not let you leave the book even for a minute. The scenes are evocative, and narration is fast paced. Avishi as the female warrior is magnificent. The characters show the depth of personalities and bring out the relevant emotional experience. Loved the small nuances, rituals, simple living depicted for ancient India. The most fantastic fact which pulls one in the story was that there was no bias towards any gender in those times.
Highly recommended read.