books · Fiction · reading

The Mahabharata Secret by Christopher C. Doyle

A secret brotherhood of nine that dates over two thousand years back was formed by Emperor Asoka to safeguard a deep secret with the potential to destroy the world. With the dawn of the twenty first century, some facts come to light which bring the legends of an ancient Indian text within the grasping reach of a modern nuclear physicist who is assisted by some powerful people. At the same time,  a young Indian man is entrusted with a set of emails and clues which will help him and his friends reach the heart of the ancient secret that has been passed down by the brotherhood through generations. But they are being raced to the finish line by a terrorist outfit that has something sinister on its agenda.

Sounds familiar? There is very little left to the imagination in this book which takes place in modern India and leads its readers through a maze of clues and riddles left by an ancient organization with the aim of protecting a secret. In fact, The Mahabharata Secret is so close in nature and story to The Da Vinci Code, that it can make you cringe. The only difference is that the fancy palazzi and expansive vistas of Europe have been replaced with Indian vaults and heritage sites accessible by rutted roads, pillar edicts, temples and caves.

The story is battered and very predictable. There is absolutely no suspense, the sequence of events are artificial and fall flat. Vijay Singh, our protagonist is a good-looking, tall, broad-shouldered, athletic young man and the woman he will inadvertently fall in love with is beautiful, witty and resourceful. The characters ring with hollowness and this book could definitely be turned into a Indian film, complete with songs and the whole package. The plot is full of loopholes that make a laughing stock out of a bunch of terrorists and a seemingly all-powerful conglomerate of politicians and businessmen from across the globe. The IB is reduced to  passive investigation of the kind that any amateur sleuth could easily carry out, and probably better.

The Asoka puzzles are okay but the entire enterprise of hunting for legendary weapons throughout the country has lost its charm and the riddle-solving doesn’t seem like something that would require an impressive background anyway. What with Google, the whole point of the protagonist and his team is somewhat defeated and rendered redundant.

I do not like it when a book shuttles between locations with very little regard for the details that make a reader’s imagination palette come alive. This book falls very short in that regard; the superficial nature of the synthetic scenes strung together with very little harmony is a big disappointment. I wouldn’t have minded the Dan Brown-esque nature of the novel if there had been any depth in the book at all. But it was a very immature venture, even from a purely entertainment point of view. A first-timer expecting a big break from this sort of book-writing, speaks oodles about the sort of fiction that really sells like hotcakes. But I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone at all.



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