I was one of the first few readers to read #Avishi by Saiwaroopa Iyer. In fact, pleasantreads carried a blurb of this book. You can see it here.
Saiswaroopa Iyer is an investment analyst turned author. She comes with impressive pedigree – MBA from IIT, has studied Puranas at the Oxford Center for Hindu Studies and oh,she is also a best-selling self-published author of Abhaya. Her novel, Abhaya was praised by no less than Amish Tripathi
So, when Saiswaroopa gifted me a review copy of her latest book – I considered it a privilege and immediately started reading it.
Avishi is the retelling of an ancient Indian Warrior Princess – Vishapala who has found mention in the Rigvedas. Vishapala was a kick-ass warrior who faced the enemy with a prosthetic leg.
Yes – you read it right, she had a Prosthetic leg and it was gifted to her by the Ashwini Kumars [Also known as Asvins – they are the doctors of gods in the Hindu Pantheon]
Vishpala is not well-known as a character – If you research her on the Internet, you will find a very small Wikipedia page. In fact, there seems to be only one link which seems to carry significant information on here. You can find this link here.
The strength of the book lies in its stellar research and Saiswaroopa’s ability to turn that into an excellent piece of reading.
The story is about Vishpala or Avishi,a young orphan from a Vedic settlement called Vrishabhavati [near modern-day Pakistan or Rajasthan]. Avishi is orphaned at a young age, since her Father, the great soldier – Sukratu is betrayed in Khela’s [The Villain in Avishi and a clever scheming general] lust for power.
Avishi is given shelter in the settlement of Naimisha [Near Modern day Nepal]. Her caretaker, the mysterious Loha takes her there through a divine intervention. Naimisha is the land of Rishis and is also an active hub for social debates. A moot point at the settlement is whether or not to solemnise the establishment of marriage and also the practice of monogamy. This proves to be a point of friction marriage will restrict the freedom to choose one’s mate, if one is not happy in the relationship.
Everyone at Naimisha grows fond of the full-blooded warrior. However, Avishi is keen to go towards Ashtagani[ settlement near Vrishabhavati] – she believes it is her destiny[She is instructed by the great Rishi Vahni to travel to Ashtagani]. Her decision is a source of great chagrin to Gautam – who is also her mate and also wants to solemnize marriage.
Avishi enters Ashtagani and joins the army there. She easily impresses everyone with her military skills and rises up the ranks. She gradually becomes the Ganamukhya[Chief of the Ganas or the unit] Ashtgani. Here, Avishi also meets Satya- the doctor of the settlement and her mate and also her limb surgeon!
Things are going great at Ashtagani – but the evil Khela on the other side has evil plans. He wants to expand his territory and wants to absorb Ashtagani in his empire. Khela is also hopelesly smitten with Avishi due to her strong-will and personality.
Misfortune befalls Avishi – her leg has to be amputated due to a wound she suffers during a raid.
What happens next? How will Avishi get her prosthetic limb? Will she realise that Khela is behind the treachery that killed her father? Will Ashtagani survive? To find an answer to these questions, I strongly recommend you to take the book and start reading.
Saiswaroopa Iyer has done a lot of research and a lot of hard work to create this story and it shows in the book. Characters are many and myriad in the book – but you still navigate through the book easily. The book is written in very simple language so it makes for very easy and enjoyable reading.
All in all – it is a good read and also makes for good material for screen/tv adaptation.
Coming to the business end of this review,
Writing Style: 4.5/5
Story : 4.2/5
Verdict: Must Read!