Fantasy novels are no easy books to write. There’s the usual characters, plot and writing style. Then there’s world building, and magic system with a little bit of romance thrown into it. Though romance in general fantasy novels is a much debatable topic. And of course, there could be more elements depending on the type of fantasy you’re writing. It’s very complex!
Recently, as I read more and more fantasy, I feel drawn towards this genre & quite naturally, I’m drawn towards Indian fantasy novels. Some of them sadly disappoint me and some of them impress me beyond limits.
But what about this? Born to Be King: The Epic of Kautilya by Deepak Thomas. Is it good? Bad? What’s the story about? Find it out in this book review!
Story of Born To Be king Book by Deepak Thomas
Ridiculed & shunned, for being a woman & having the qualities of a parrot instead of mighty eagles & hawks as her brothers had, Kautilya is the daughter of a mighty warrior king of Bharat. Her family is betrayed & to restore her father’s legacy, Kautilya must organise a rebellion and join hands with a few misfits and a hidden army.
But will she able to do it? Regain the throne? Would her resistance and soft non-violent nature let her take her vengeance?
Born To Be King Book Review
The epic of Kautilya is the first book in the planned Indian fantasy series. The book begins beautifully with little Kautilya and her brothers indulging in mischief, as all these characters are introduced. The story takes dives into the backstory quite smoothly, and you’re introduced very quickly to the backstory.
I personally loved how the plot doesn’t take time to build up.
It instantly pulls you into it.
The writing style truly made it seamless, quick and smooth.
The book really covers Kautilya’s life from her childhood, with a backstory about her interesting birth, and then into her education and then, finally into the day her family gets betrayed and she faces the biggest setback of her life.
In my recent reads & reviews, I have complained a lot about the fantasy novels I was picking up not having a proper structure. If there’s no real conflict in the story, why am I even going to be interested in your story? It’s basic storytelling.
And then, if the conflict doesn’t build up properly or resolves too quickly, the reader is obviously going to be dissatisfied. No need to blame the reader for reading it wrongly. No?
However, as I sit down to write this book review, I have a clear picture of why this story needed to be told – what happened, how it happened and how it resolved. Basically, the plot is well-laid out and it builds up very well with little sub plots having a good structure and element of interest as well. The education part was my favourite!
With that being said, there are weak points in the story. For example, the romance part of it. I am a girl who loves romance in the fantasy setting. While the heavy and intense main plot is going on, I love to catch the sparks flying between characters. And though the story attempts to throw out a lot of such sparks, they couldn’t burn bright enough.
The whole romance part of the story seemed like a setup. There are multiple lovers in the story and I couldn’t really see the arc of the character switching from one to another.
And that could totally have been a miss from my side if not for the reshuffle in the very end… forcing me to express my displeasure about the romance portion of the book. It took away the 5 stars this book could’ve gotten from me.
Another thing I disliked was the repetitiveness.
See, the magic system in this book is simple, extremely well done. I liked it very much. Even the whole world building. There are several types of species – humans, apes, bears, raakshas, danavs, asuras, demigods… that exist as characters in the book and the simplicity with which they’ve been portrayed is pure gold.
To a beginner reader of fantasy novel, I would highly recommend this book.
It’s easy to read & understand. However, somewhere by the end, the things get repetitive. The same astras being used over and over again, the same failures & demons (not the literal ones) faced by the characters… I mean there’s one astra that has a proper story planned for it, so its repetitiveness… I understand but the rest of it? The sheer amount of convincing it took for both Kautilya & Angad (an ape character) to do their jobs… it was slightly over the top.
Discussing the characters, I overall liked the character of Kautilya and honestly, all characters in the book. I particularly loved the character of Dhanush. I can’t delve deep into why I loved him so much to avoid spoilers but I do wish I could talk about him. The strength of this character (not the literal one) is just a hidden gem in the book, that you would appreciate very much by the time you finish the book (only if you’re reading deeply).
I liked the overall writing style, of course. Smooth. Easy to stick to. Easy to read. And I loved how the author tried to leave a few hints and learnings for the reader throughout the story. Anybody above 10 would totally enjoy the book. That’s what I think. But do note if you’re a big fantasy reader and you’re looking for a complicated & complex fantasy novel, this may not be the one for you.
Overall, I think The epic of Kautilya is a very good fantasy novel by an Indian author, Deepak Thomas. Strong plot, world building, magic system, characters & writing style with just a few flaws makes it a book worth trying. I would recommend it to anybody who’s looking for a simple easy to read fantasy novel set in the Indian mythological setting (Without the usual & cliched Ramayana Mahabharata plot).
My ratings: 4/5 stars