Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Kim's Review : The Treasure of Kafur

I spied this title - "Treasure of Kafur" in November when Flipkart was offering it for pre-order.

Given how much I had loved reading The Shadow Throne and that this story was in the Historical Fiction genre, I lost no time in pre-ordering Aroon Raman's latest.

It was only after I had finished reading the book, that I read Aroon's note in the end and I came to know that "The Treasure of Kafur" was his first creation although Shadow Throne was published first.

"The Treasure of Kafur" is based on some factual bits of history, some modified bits of history (regarding timelines) and a lot of fiction and fantasy. For this reason, I think it will appeal very well to teen readers as well.

The tale is set in 1580 during the rule of Akbar in the North and Rana Pratap in Mewar. But the main villain of this piece is Asaf Baig of Asirgarh-Khandesh. The hero is a 20 year old boy named Dattatreya / Datta / Dattu. The other main characters are his grandmother Ambu and their pets. While Datta might seem like an unremarkable peasant boy, he has a unique ability of being able to telepathically communicate with certain animals.

The background to this tale comes from 1312, when Alauddin Khilji was ruler of the Delhi Sultanate and his slave turned Head General Malik Kafur led 2 campaigns in South India, plundering the local rulers and Hindu temples along the way. The booty included the Koh-i-noor that was sacked from Warangal.

While Tughlaq's Historian - Ziauddin Barani declared that Kafur came back to Delhi with 241 tonnes of gold, 20,000 horses and 612 elephants laden with the looted treasure, Aroon Raman's belief is that this looted treasure did not find itself to Delhi, but was hidden along the way and everyone who knew the location, was killed or died before the location could be conveyed to Alauddin Khilji.

268 years later, Asaf Baig is searching desperately for this treasure, so he can unite the kings who have so far stood up to Akbar and overthrow the Mughal Emperor. He learns that Ambu has some knowledge in this respect and captures her. Datta manages to escape and tries to gain an audience with Emperor Akbar to convince him to mount an attack and release his grandmother, before Asaf Baig can get the information out of her. He hopes that the lure of the treasure for himself will be sufficient enticement.

The tale is extremely fast paced and quite engrossing. It is written in the tradition of fantastical stories told by our grandmothers which combine elements of history, fantasy, quests, romance, kings, peasants, rise of the underdog and other staples.

The Treasure of Kafur, can't be read with a constant question of "how is that even possible?" nagging you at the back of your head, enjoy the fantasy part of the novel for itself and don't try to find logic behind everything.

The supporting characters of Dilawar Khan, Inayat Khan, Man Singh and Ahilya Bai are also well fleshed out, so its easy to identify with each of their motivations and lines of reasoning.

The "Treasure of Kafur" doesn't end with a note of finality, but exactly like a grandmothers tale "baaki kahaani kal raat ko" - "I'll continue the story tomorrow", so I really hope that Aroon has planned to write the sequel and give us readers a happy ending.

Rating : 4 / 5

Also Read :
Kim's Review of The Shadow Throne
Brajesh's Review of The Shadow Throne

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