The origins of the game of chess have never been established. In his fast-paced debut novel, Nihshank Debroy has sketched out an intriguing theory.
The action veers between two parallel narratives—one set in the reign of Skandgupta of the Gupta dynasty during the time when our country was ravaged by the invasions of the White Huns. Harshavardhan, a warrior trying to stem the destructive tide and save his countrymen is the main character in this time frame. The writer has provided him with an interesting companion, none other than the great poet Kalidas.
The other narrative thread is placed in contemporary times and high-flying businesswoman Vinita Joshi is at the forefront of the action. Vinita is attempting to straddle two worlds—the U.S. and India. Her estranged father Rajinder’s sudden death compels her to return to Delhi to manage his affairs. But she walks straight into a mystery that demands to be solved—the riddle of her chess fanatic father’s obsessive quest during the last days of his life.
During his struggle to defeat the Huns, Harshavardhan devises a game to first escape and later to evolve a strategy to defeat them. Is this chess? That’s the question!
Vinita’s mission is to hunt out and unravel the clues that explain her father’s strange behaviour before his death, which lead her on a strange journey.
The pace does not lag for a minute in this page turner which is bound to keep a reader engrossed. The events follow in quick succession and the crisp writing style is compelling. The characters well represent their respective eras. Harshavardhan is perhaps the more appealing because of his idealism, but Vinita as the quintessential modern woman exerts a different kind of fascination. Definitely a book for those who love thrillers.
Checkmate Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
©2020 Nihshanka Debroy (P)2020 Audible, Inc.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 27 minutes|
|Audible.in Release Date||01 June 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank||
#7,418 in Audible Audiobooks & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Audiobooks & Originals)
#21 in Historical Thrillers
#13,079 in Crime, Thriller & Mystery (Books)
4.7 out of 5
7 global ratings
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Reviewed in India on 17 July 2020
I was struck by this book because it is among the first in India to draw attention to the dilemma of an Indian woman in the global corporate arena but with undeniable ties to India. The news of the sudden death of her estranged and eccentric father compels Vinita to return and take care of her father’s company as well as his deep involvement with finding the origins of the game of chess. But she does not compromise her own business interests abroad or her personal freedom. The parallel story goes centuries back, and provides quite a tenable hypothesis of how chess as a board game evolved from strategic battle planning and the loyalty of soldier Harshavardhan. But I identified more with its contemporary story, which is also a woman’s story.
Reviewed in India on 16 September 2020
The excitement of unravelling the hidden secret of origins of Chess in an unusual structure grips right through the end. As the fiction moves between two time zones the connect of two storylines blend curiously as the shift intensifies with the progress of the story, getting more enigmatic with the culmination of the plot. I am amazed with the imagination and descriptions of ancient times moving as naturally as the modern movement.
Worth a re-read.
Worth a re-read.
Reviewed in India on 3 September 2020
Just finished reading the book. And I was literally left craving for more. Congratulations and a high five for the debutant author for an outstanding work of fiction. After a few chapters, I was so immersed & involved in the travails of Harshavardhan & Vinita, that I experienced an abundance of goosebumps & butterflies till the nail - biting finish. The layout of the book is so engaging, that the reader lives & loves the experience of traversing between the past & present at supersonic speed in this mind-blowing literary game of chess. And what adds to the engrossing read is the absolute no-frills, lucid & simple language. Last , but not the least, the straightforward style of writing & narration leaves the unsuspecting reader totally unarmed & defenceless against a " novel" champion chess player who has all the warriors on his side. Looking forward to your next literary move, Nihshanka......