Book Reviews by a Pioneer: The Grand Anicut by Veena Muthuraman

Genre: Historical Thriller
Rating: 4/5

It is first century CE in south India. King Karikalan, the Chola ruler of Tamilakam has defeated his neighbouring kings. It is peacetime for now. The king is working on an ambitious dam project on river Kaveri for his farmers – The Grand Anicut. But is everything as it appears?

The Chola trader community is unhappy, as the king has granted rights to other communities; the foreign merchants from Rome are dissatisfied as they cannot trade with other countries due to restrictions imposed by the king – sea harbours are controlled by the Cholas; the vanquished tribes want to avenge the killings of their close ones by the king. Spies and counter spies move across the land for their masters. There are murders and allegations. One does not know whom to trust.

It is a fast paced historical fiction, which draws from few actual events of that time. The country of the period is described vividly. As each chapter ends, you are left wondering about the events to follow. The distraction for me was to understand many south Indian words used throughout the book for which I had to go back to google search. This interrupted my reading – it would have helped if the English equivalents were put in footnotes.

An entertaining read.

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