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Raja Raja, the legendary Chola king in South India has a problem. Someone is sabotaging his trade with the Chinese, and swapping sacks of precious spices , gems and cloth with worthless goat droppings , pebbles and jute cloth.
Who does Raja Raja call upon to help him? His super sleuth Only One at their rendezvous point – the big Nandi bull statue in the temple complex. From the Chola Kingdom to Sri Vijaya and China, Only One travels in disguise to ‘knock knock ‘ on the truth. To create an even bigger mess, there are pirates on the high seas, and their leader who is mocked for turning soft.
I laughed from the start to the finish of this book. Natasha weaves a brilliant historical tale about Raja Raja, the Chola Kingdom and its trade partners. Her voice is so perfect, that not once did I get the feeling the book was trying to impart a moral or history lesson.
Natasha’s research is impeccable. The Cholas did brisk business with the Song dynasty in China and the ships passed through the Sri Vijaya empire, that is current day Indonesia. During Raja Raja’s time, the two kingdoms shared friendly relations, but later, Raja Raja’s son attacked Sri Vijaya and annexed it. Why? It may have been that Sri Vijaya was flexing its arms as the gatekeeper to trade with China and other countries. The book is full of interesting nuggets of information about that period, and great illustrations that make the period come alive.
I was envious too – I wish our generation had such cool historical fiction when we were growing up, instead of those boring text books that put us to sleep!
An absolute must read. Rating 5/5