Review: Ashok and the Nine Unknown – a wonderful read for travellers and history fans

We are in the times when Historical Fictional is making its way to the Indian Markets. A few authors have picked it up so far for it requires a lot of research and a deeper understanding of what happened and why? Anshul Dupare brings us the story of great Emperor Ashok and a popular but less explored legend, of a secret society created by him, known as the nine unknown.

Page one takes us back to the day Kalinga War ended, and Ashok is standing in the battlefield, devastated by the consequences of his actions. We see the heart of a deeply wounded warrior and a survivor, Amartya, who is not ready to forgive Ashok. As the story proceeds forward, victory is explored for the defeated and defeat is explored for the victorious. The concept of justice is explored and pondered upon. Readers might find themselves confused about who to sympathize with; Ashok or Amartya for their emotions have been divulged in great extent.

We journey along Ashok on his way to win the hearts he so mercilessly butchered. He regrets the war and wants to ensure his kingdom is peaceful but little did he know about the shadows that were lurking in the corners. The survivor, Amartya, is unforgiving and will do anything to avenge the death of his family and justice for what he considers a conquest and not a war.

From here, the author starts to mix facts with fiction and creates a narrative that felt so realistic. As Amartya struggles to find a purpose for his life, Dupare takes us to the lesser known, mystical land of Mayong in Assam, a place which has been known as the black magic capital of India since ages.

The story juggles between Mayong and Patliputra. This writing is a dream for travellers and history fans. Not for a moment, you wish to keep the book down. And so, you follow Ashok, who just like Amartya is struggling with grief and is on a quest to find nine gems who will find the answer to unanswerable and preserve the knowledge which could be used against humanity so that there is no war like Kalinga War again.

All the characters stand on their own with their traits and personalities. Book has plenty of twists and turns to keep you biting your nails. The writing doesn’t tire you out. The story maintains its pace packing action, romance, horror, drama, magic, mystery and new perspectives in between. And as if all this wasn’t enough to turn the book into a must read, like a cherry on the top, Anshul impressively manages to handle not only one but two mythologies, merging seamlessly. The mythical empire of Atlantis made into a myth by writings of Plato makes an entrance and the story turns on its head. The Nine Unknown reach Egypt in hopes of finding the answer to the mystery surrounding Atlantis and how does it connect to Patliputra.

A story that has it all, Ashok and The Nine Unknown presents itself as a must read and will keep you hoping for the next book in the series to be released soon. Instead of telling you how to think and what to do in worst situations, it lets you think on your own. A book that poses questions and makes readers think has served its purpose well.