Top critical review
Reviewed in India on 19 August 2018
Who doesn't know Arjuna, the third Pandava prince, husband of Draupadi, Sakha of Shri Krishna & the world's renowned archer, from the epic poem of the Mahabharata? Every Indian while growing up had watched Mahabharata by B.R. Chopra, telecasted in Doordarshan in the 80s' or the Mahabharata by Swastik Productions Pvt, telecasted in star plus in 20s'. So the image & story of Arjuna has been embedded in our mind & heart from our childhood, whether through folklore, grandma's bedtime stories, films, tv series or books.
For me, Arjuna was the most prominent & charismatic male character in the Mahabharata whose stories fascinated me from my childhood. He was known by many names --- 'Arjun', son of Pritha, 'Partha' son of Pritha, 'Phalguna' one who born under the star Phalguni, 'Kiriti' who was presented with a golden diadem by Indra, 'Swetavahana' rider of a divine chariot, 'Jishnu' one whose rage is dreadful to behold & who became scourge of three worlds, 'Bibhatsu' one who is fair & ethical in conduct, 'Vijaya' one who never lose a battle, 'Savyasachi' one who is ambidextrous, 'Dhananjaya' one who brings prosperity wherever he goes --- & had various facets & shades in his character, but who Arjuna really was? The author Anuja Chandramouli attempted to answer this question in her debut novel Arjuna Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince.
Now coming to my view about the book, it was written in simple language, which is quite too simple for me. Each chapter tells you some incidents from Arjuna's life, like short stories. Judging from its name I was expecting the book to be a character-driven story, that it will portray the Mahabharata from Arjuna's POV, something like The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, but to my utter disappointment, I was so wrong. The book is nothing but a summarised retelling of the Mahabharata. There was no characterization, dialogues were seemed to be put forcefully & lots of backward forward storytelling makes the storyline confusing. The first half of the book is very fast pace & many important incidents are either ignored or written hurriedly, while the 2nd half felt too dragging. Long conversations, characters background stories & descriptions of the battle scenes are used to unnecessarily stretched the chapters long. The relation which Arjun share with Drupadi is disregarded. She comes only in a few pages in the entire book, while the story of Karna is elaborately described in the 2nd half as if it was his story, not Arjuna's.
After completing the book, I was feeling like why the hell I read this book. Its complete waste of time. I would not recommend this book to anyone. I will give 1 star out of 5 & that too for the author's boldness to write about such a larger than life characters in her debut novel.