Book Review – Ponniyin Selvan

Posted: May 26, 2013 in Book Reviews
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I’m a satisfied person now. Having read an epic novel which spans about two thousand five hundred pages that too in Tamil gives me that satisfaction. Thanks to this one book I got the pleasure of reading a language which I’ve almost stopped reading of late. I made a bad mistake of reading Ramayanam in English before watching the movie Ravanan. It made me understand only the stats but not the essence. I couldn’t appreciate Ramayanam like I did Ponniyin Selvan. I can whole heartedly say that the latter is a definite master piece. Otherwise would it have made me wake up till three in the morning to complete the book.


One such novel I could compare this with is Lord of the Rings. The story there spans three volumes of 400 pages each. The best descriptive book I’ve read so far and the movie being the best adaptation. What a writer Tolkien is. Kalki gives you so much pleasure, in fact more when you start living with the novel. Even though the book spans five volumes you still feel the climax is hurried which I guess is the only drawback. He gives a nice little explanation in his epilogue about this. He says that in spite of the book going on and on it still made readers think that it’s hurried towards its end which means readers don’t want to get rid of the book. In a way there is a point here, even I wanted to continue reading the book as all characters had become a part of my family but there has to be an end for everything which didn’t seem to convince me. Other than that it’s a pitch perfect one.

The hero of the book is Vandhiyathevan but as the author says the main event in the book is Ponniyin Selvan’s selfless way of giving his kingdom to Maduranthagan. Ponniyin Selvan is the person everyone likes. He’s born that way but the charmer of the book is Vandhiyathevan. There are a lot of interesting characters in the book. It’d be an overkill to mention each and everyone and write about their significance. Like everyone I too way was blown away by Vandhiyathevan’s charisma but like Naradhar it was Azhvarkadiyan who made me sit up and read the book in awe. He is awe inspiring not only because he’s a spy but the way he seamlessly mitigates fact with fiction. The Narayanan vs. Sivan quarrel was a treat to read. If you try to understand his words from the persons point of view he’s talking to it’d be definitely confusing. We need authors’ discretion to understand what he’s really trying to imply. Such master character and such epic writing.

A book which is written almost fifty years ago or to say it in a better way, almost half a century ago talks about things that we have experienced recently. Is the book premonition of facts that’s happening now? Are yesteryear writers who have written epic novels scholars? Or are just glorifying something they’ve said to enhance the vision of story. I’m not giving answers, I don’t have the right to but when the sea rose and almost killed Ponniyin Selvan I could see a certain tsunami, I could see glimpses of incest between Karikala chozan and Nandini, between Arulmozhi and Poonguzali. One thing that I hate about yesteryears culture is polygamy. The current generation is blamed for not having divine love. I’m not going to comment on that. I very much doubt the divinity when it comes to love. But making it official, having a string of wife to boast your manliness just doesn’t seem to right for me. But that’s how people lived then. Some facts may sound rude and some crude. Kalki hasn’t fiddled with them. He has presented the story just like the way he wants. The honesty in his writing is what makes the story a master piece.

Enough has already been said about the book. I don’t have much else to say. To analyze this book and write a complete review would take me a decade. That’s how intricate the book is. But I don’t want to miss out on the review of this book when I have loads of time to waste and a page to post. I just wanted to share my happiness of the book to the world comprising of individuals who always wanted to read this book and never find time. May be this could be a push to you guys. If that happens I’ll be more than happy.


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