The fate of an empire trembles in the balance ...' Hindustan, 1580 AD. The Mughal Emperor Akbar is at the height of his power, seemingly invincible. But twenty years of war have earned him many enemies, and rebellion is brewing, led by Asaf Baig, the tyrannical ruler of Khandesh. Baig has stumbled upon the knowledge that the whereabouts of the fabulous lost treasure of Malik Kafur, which will guarantee victory to Akbar's enemies, is known to an old woman called Ambu.Baig kidnaps Ambu to wrest the knowledge of the treasure from her, but her twenty-year-old grandson, Dattatreya, escapes and flees across Hindustan to enlist the help of the the one person who has the most reason to stop Baig - the Mughal Emperor himself. Staying one step ahead of capture and death, Datta is swept up in a world of kings and warrior princesses, of uncommon friendships and an implacable evil; and a desperate race against time to save his grandmother - and the Empire.
First look at the title and the cover and it speaks a lot about some large mysterious history and probably a wild goose chase. It also can be long forgotten chapter in the history. The cover image is beautifully done with a flag bearer and a mirror adorning the beauty and the glory of the empire. The blurb talks about the destiny of Mughal Empire in 1580 A.D and it's repercussions on the future generations. It's a good blurb not giving out anything to the readers and keeping the guessing game alive.
The story is of Ambu and her grandson Datta who are keepers of a dreadful past and a long lost buried treasure of Malik Kafur. The ruler of their kingdom Khandesh "Asaf Baig" a ruthless soul is on the lookout for that treasure. He launches a manhunt for Ambu and her grandson and also join hands with Mughal armies enemies in order to siege and take control of Hindustan. But Ambu's willpower and meticulous planning leads to a frenzy as Datta finds himself running for life and protecting the secret and helping out Akbar to annexe Khandesh and other Deccan regions and repel the threat of his enemies. So will Ambu succeed in wavering off Asaf Baig and his dark methods? Will Datta be able to live up to the expectations of his grandmother? How will Akbar respond to the news and the threat? Will Mughal glory remain intact or will his enemies usurp his throne? What will happen to the treasure? Will anyone be able to find it out or will it remain hidden from the prying eyes of Asaf Baig and his allies? That's what the story is all about.
The methodical research, the pacy narration, the fantasy element and a gripping story line awaits the readers. The book hardly gives space to breath as the glory days of Mughal Empire especially Akbar can be relived through this book. The vivid details and the long drawn battles and the curiosity of the treasure keeps the readers enthralled all the time. The book has been mixed up with some exciting elements required in a historical fiction and eyes can't waver off even for a second when you read this book as a reader. The gut wrenching moments also makes the readers jump out of their seats at times. The characters have been given a lot of emphasis on and the blazing action also leaves many spellbound.
The downside of the book is it's initial start which could have been done in a more comprehensive manner. Also the part of Asaf Baig was found wanting towards the end. His space was consumed by other characters.
All in all the book has been rightly served as a historical fantasy fiction. Some elements very surprising and some picked up from the long forgotten history of India in those times. The book is a pool of knowledge and readers can tap and absorb a lot of it while remaining entertained throughout. The book is not a story but it's a time machine which takes readers on a journey never witnessed but only imagined.
4 OUT OF 5