Wednesday, February 26

Book review: The Hunt for Kohinoor

Hi readers,

Forget about stories that introduce a background and give you enough time and consideration to adapt to the plot. This one dives right in and maintains a crisp pace - one that needs complete attentiveness to grasp and enjoy. Not your light coffee-time read, this.

I was approached by Westland Books to read and review this book that was published in Dec 2013.

To be honest with you, I am not a regular patron of historic, terrorism and political stories so I found myself drifting off on a few occasions. But each time the authoress succeeds in sowing some excitement into the situation to bring the flighty reader back.

First and foremost, I was intrigued by the name of the protagonist – Mehrunisa. A quick search on the web divulged that Noor Jahan, the twentieth and favourite wife of the Emperor Jahangir, was born as Mehr-un-Nissa in 1577. She is called one of the most powerful and influential women of the 17th century Mughal Empire since she was a strong, charismatic and well-educated woman. Not unlike the Mehr in Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s trilogy.

Trilogy season has kicked in big time post Meluha, I guess. “The Hunt for Kohinoor” is a sequel to "Taj Conspiracy", and I was a little hesitant to read the second book as I did not have the grounding and knowledge of the first one. Being the organized and structure-loving person that I am, I was secretly hoping that Westland would pamper me with both the books (!) However, I was assured and set at ease, and thus began my reading journey that took me on an expedition across Kashmir, the Hindukush mountains and Peshawar.

This was my first tryst with Sodhi- Someshwar, an IIM-C alumnus and author of "The Long Walk Home". “The Hunt for Kohinoor” is an interesting tale, albeit not a completely original idea. It reminded me of some Bollywood flicks and also very vaguely the Da Vinci Code. Just like Princess Sophie sets out on a mission set upon her owing to her grandfather, Mehr is cast into a dangerous conspiracy by virtue of being the daughter of a secret agent.  

I liked the metaphor “Snow Leopard” used throughout the book, and its relevance to the storyline. The description of the varied characters is also engaging. Their dreams come alive in their eyes and their realities hit you in the face as Mehrunisa Khosa’s journey is tracked over a span of 96 hours to save herself and her lost-and-found father.

The writing is fluid and boasts of a multitude of converging plots. More impressive for me, though, as an avid bookworm and language trainer, was the glorious vocabulary used throughout the story: opprobrium, fulminating, extant... Breathtaking! I don’t know who to applaud for this – the author, editor, some thesaurus or other individual. Whoever has implanted these in the paperback – fantastic job!

I do, however, wish that the book was smaller than 425 pages. I found myself skipping a few paragraphs and pages, not something I would do with a Jeff Arch or Chitra Divakaruni. Now that could be attributed to my lack of interest in geography and war history, but that is precisely the backdrop so I can't complain, so I flick a few pages and scan through the next chapter. The protagonist travels alongwith another agent and then a lover to unravel the secret of the “Kohinoor” and foil a gruesome plot of the Jihadis.

While reviews are still being published across blogs and mags, the writer suggests (as does Anubhav Sinha) that Priyanka Chopra would be ideal to play the role of Mehrunisa, should a movie be made. I wonder why that is a pre-requisite these days. Would be so much better if writers focused on writing a great book than making a good movie. 

My view: 5 stars on 10. And a special one star for the lexis. 

Have an awesome day, ya'all!


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