When slaves rise and civilisations fall
But that is where the memories also stop from coming back, because the two are entirely different.
Gods, Kings... is the first purely English effort by R Venketesh. Kudos to him for providing an insight into two great empires and also providing his vision to an alternate future. The way he explains and details the Delhi Sultanate and the Pandayan Empire is just amazing. It gives one a feeling of two civilisations of gigantic proportions, be it about Qutub Minar of Delhi or the Meenakshi Temple of Madurai. From the view that Alauddin Khilji takes from atop the Qutub Minar to the opulence of Madurai and the Meenakshi Temple, it is both tempting and grand for the reader and serves to make him imagine all these sights. This is a rare skill wherein one is not forced to really imagine and he/she just wants to imagine. This is also the downfall of the book.
While Venketesh details few things very clearly and immaculately, the important things take a backseat. While the kings’ harems and various characters' sex lives are delved into with great detail, the proceedings inside court and on the battlefield fizzle out. The wars get over as soon as they have goaded readers into reading more about the campaigns. Sieges are shorter than the time an army spends travelling from home to land it will lay siege to. Rebellions get crushed even before they take off. Seasoned warriors take up sedentary lifestyles a s if they were peasants and not the wielders of swords, spears and bows. Heartless assassins suddenly grow emotional when an imbecile royal begs them for mercy(Malik Kafur was killed as a result of this) and on top of it, there is magic and myths and what not to divert readers’ attention away from things that matter. The plot does not pick up any pace until the end, where the story goes over the top and then overboard.
While Venketesh is no Frank Miller, he certainly would have taken his reputation and this book to another league, if only he gave more priority to the gods, kings and slaves than concubines, harems, wealth or even the way in which horses were taken off the transport ships(it also gives a humorous twist to the story but don’t let PETA catch you laughing on the bad luck of horses and the unintentional cruelty of humans on them).
Gods, Kings and Slaves... is a valiant effort and should be praised for what it is!