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Nilima Sinha

By Deepa Agarwal
Puffin Books, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 165, Rs. 199.00


The Magadha King Dhana Nanda had become unpopular because of his vile tongue, bad temper and greedy ways. The brahmin scholar, Chanakya, though learned and brilliant, could flare up in red hot anger, even when face to face with the mightiest of royal kings. Sparks had to fly when the two met. Dhana Nanda ordered his men to remove Chanakya from his court, all because he did not like the face of the brahmin. The furious Chanakya vowed to take revenge by removing the king from his throne.   The well known historical incident is handled deftly by Deepa Agarwal, who traces Chanakya’s journey from a rejected brahmin to a powerful kingmaker, transforming the book into a real page turner. The student who makes a face at mention of history becomes engrossed in the tale. And no wonder—the bare facts of history have been dressed up into a fast paced adventure story!     Chanakya takes the boy Chandragupta under his wing and educates him at Taxila, the ancient university in the north-western part of India. When he feels the student is ready at last for the royal role planned for him, the clever brahmin looks for ways to gather an army. The Greek warrior Alexander, meanwhile, has ganged up with Ambhi, the Indian king, to attack King Porus. The two defeat Porus who wants to be given treatment as ‘befitting a royal king’. All well-known incidents in history, but described beautifully in the book, giving fresh glimpses of our glorious past.   After several bloody battles, Chanakya succeeds in his goal. The Nanda king is replaced by Chandragupta Maurya, who rules for many years, and is finally succeeded by his son Bindusar, father of one of the greatest emperors in India’s history, Ashoka. Chanakya becomes the Prime Minister, guiding the kings with his advice and penning down the guidelines later in his famous book, the Arthashastra.   An author of popular adventure books for children, such as Ashok’s New Friends, A Capital Adventure, Caravan to Tibet which was selected by AWIC for the IBBY Honour List, 2008, and historical books such as Rani Lakshmibai, Deepa has won many awards and prizes for her books. She conducts workshops and storytelling sessions in schools and is the founder of the Habitat Children’s Book Forum in New Delhi. This book is testimony to the fact that Deepa has emerged as one of the ...

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