By Rikin Khamar
History never fascinated me. Until now.
Maybe it was the narration style of this book that brought such a valued historical account to life as I flipped through the pages.
The story is essentially about the Rajput Queen Padmavati (Padmini). The beautiful queen is married to the king of Mewar, Rawal Rattan Singh. When praise of her beauty reaches Delhi, the Sultan, Ala’uddin Khilji, is intrigued and he expresses his desire to see her. This demand comes across as major disrespect to the Rajput kingdom because queens had to follow the tradition of the veil system (parda). What follows is an attack on the kingdom of Mewar. The queen resorts to a bold step to freedom and honor, a decision, historians would quote, to lead her people to a fate yet unheard of in history.
The Lotus Queen is a beautifully written tale of bravery, honesty, love, trust and sacrifice whilst surrounded by intense distress and pain. And like I confessed earlier, I’m not a great fan of history, but this story of the Rajput bravery, valor, pride and tradition is quite an intriguing read.
The non-linear narrative is quite simple, but it does not lose out on depth. You might be a little startled in the beginning with the style, but as you proceed, it becomes more and more enjoyable. From describing the striking beauty of Queen Padmini to the picturesque and colorful traditions; from describing the sturdy and secure fort of Chittor to the rugged landscapes of Mewar; and from the passion shared by the legendry couple to the emotions portrayed and shared by all the characters in the book; Rikin has captured it all delicately and quite accurately.
The pace is quite decent. Given the fact that the story traces back to about the 1300s, no aspect of the book (or the writing) boggles you down. Also, the artwork on the book cover looks quite inspired by that era. Very traditional. Very beautiful. Yes, the story could be a little more tightly written. But then, it’s his first attempt. And quite an incredible one.