I have mixed feeling when I completed The Sialkot Saga by Ashwin Sanghi, the fourth book in his Bharat series trying to unearth the mystery of nine unknowns of Emperor Ashoka. This mythical historical unknown secret is the favorite plot of many authors who have tried their hands on it and has come up with their own versions.
But I was really confused what the book was exactly about. I started reading the book with the impression that it is about the Ashoka and his nine unknown and the deadly secret. The first chapter of the book was about it. Then I just kept reading 500 pages waiting and wondering did the author forgot about the secret which he wrote earlier.
At last the moment came. The last chapter of the book revealed about the secret which Ashoka doesn’t want to go into the hands of wrong people and who were the nine unknown. Though Ashwin’s Nine Unknown’s name were difficult to digest.
So between the first and last chapter i.e. prologue and epilogue, all those pages were about two men, Arvind and Arbazz, both living in different cities, Calcutta and Bombay, brought up in different environment Arvind coming from a well off family while Arbazz’s parents barely manages a square meal. But both were intelligent and smart and were minting money through all the illegal means.
Both of them managed to perfectly execute their ideas to make more and more money each time and every time without any glitch which is quite impossible in real life to carry out plans with perfection.
Later their paths got intersected and both became arch rivals trying to over smart each other. Until both of them were killed together in a militant attack in Taj Mahal Palace 1998.
It is after their death it was revealed that both were brought up by the same parents and were foster brothers. Their parents holds the secret of nine unknown and got separated during the riots of partition in 1947. Now what kind of novel is this where both the protagonist dies and the biggest truth of their life was revealed after their death. What is the logic behind it?
So only two chapters were actually devoted to the mystery of nine unknown and rest of the book was about how these two men became billionaires and enters the list of Forbes.
For The Sialkot Saga, Ashwin Sanghi has ditched Dan Brown’s style of writing. So don’t expect it to be a gripping and thrilling novel like The Krishna Key where there was suspense in every page.
Instead he has adopted Jeffery Archer style this time. He has woven his story around the significant and landmark events occurred in India post independence. Even Atal Bihari Vajpayee has made a special appearance into the story line.
The electrifying suspense was really missing in the novel. Even when the truth about Arvind and Arbazz was revealed it really didn’t come as a shock. May be by that time I was nearly death bored by their never ending saga.
The best strategy to read this book if someone at all wants to read it is to read prologue and epilogue. That’s it. Rest is crap and could do without reading it.
I seriously failed to understand the link between Ashoka’s nine unknown and the entire drama between Arvind and Arbazz. Why at all it was named Sialkot saga when the place has no real significance in the plot.
Now that I have finished writing the review. I think I do not have any mixed feelings about the book as now I know it is a dud.