This book has above anything else added a word to my vocabulary – Cuckold, I had no cue what that meant till I googled it after a few pages into the book. A 16th century rajput prince with a 21st century thought process – that is Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar for you.
Cuckold takes the reader through the systems, traditions, conventions, politics, mind games and social behaviourals via the narrative of the heir apparent of the kingdom of Mewar in 16th Century Hindustan – the Maharaj Kumar. It subtly conveys messages though out the narrative that appearances can be deceptive about the intelligence that lies beneath, that the forces of change – social or political can exist anywhere, even within the system and that still waters mostly run really deep.
The beauty in the narration is that it is the story of a kingdom wrapped in the personal story of the king-in-waiting. The protagonist the Maharaj Kumar - he has his blemishes, he has his righteousness, he is not perfect and he is human. The reader keeps falling into trances of liking, sympathising, disliking, empathising, distrusting, hating and even loving him. It is a roller coaster ride for the characters as well as the reader and the fact that the characters, though familiar to most of the Indians, remain just characters till the end of the narrative give the story a fresh feel. The reader in no way is prejudiced by what they already know of the characters.
Cuckold though a 600+ page narrative is paced well, the flow is excellent and the interwoven web of more than 30 characters is just correct, intriguing but not confusing. Love history, you will love this one.
iVerdict: Excellent. Recommended.