This novella of fictional suspense by the author of THE LAST NAUTCH GIRL is an easy read, which can be finished in one sitting. You cannot put down the book. The language is lucid. The plot and characters are simple. And even then it leads us through a mesmerizing story and the suspense is carried to the end of the book.
The story begins 8000 years before the common era. It starts with an ASHWAMEDHA YAGNA by the king of Satayu, PADMAPANI. VEERATA, the general is leading the campaign. The kingdom of AMRITAMBU is ruled by NANDINI and her younger sister is princess AMODINI who has got some mystic powers. They had to oppose the king of SATAYU otherwise the mystic power will be at the hands of the enemy. Nandini arranges for the safe departure of her sister with the head maid SULOCHANA, and main warrior MADHAVA. During the final fight at the tower of Amritambu palace, Nandini uses her fire magic to commit suicide.
After crossing the border and traveling through the forest, Amodini enters the town of SATVIKSHILA, which is in the kingdom of Satayu, and lives there incognito. The princess’s name is changed to Satya and she studies medicine under ACHARYA DHANWANTARI.
Three years later, young girls are being kidnapped in SATVIKSHILA. The Mayor of the city BRAHMADUTTA was assuring people that he will take appropriate steps for ensuring the security of the people. On the day of General VEERATA’S visit to the city, Satya gets kidnapped and by chance, she comes to know that the Mayor is behind the kidnappings. She is presented to the general. Somehow the general lets her go and from her, he comes to know that the Mayor is the culprit in the case of kidnappings. When Satya is about to leave his room, he collapses and she asks his soldiers to call the doctor VIDYUTA to treat him but the doctor is not successful in his attempt. Satya uses her mystic powers to save the general. The wound suffered by the general was caused by her sister’s magic spell.
Satya and other girls are sent back to the village with the general’s men. The Mayor is hanged to death for his wrongdoing. His men are also not spared. Satya along with Madhava and Sulochana try to leave the village. Before they can escape, the general reaches her home and asks her help to treat a court dancer from a neighboring country.
MAHARAJA YUSHA of VIDEHA sent his court dancer ANJALIKA as a gift to Emperor Padmapani. She fell ill on the day she reached Satayu and even after one month’s treatment has not recovered. Now the Videha king is threatening to attack the kingdom of Satayu if something happens to her. Satya accompanies the general to the capital Vijayanagar through a fire portal.
Anjalika’s treatment proves to be a difficult task. Her sickness is kept secret, so they are unable to ask for help from Acharya Dhanwantari. Satya finds out that Anjalika was suffering from an ancient spell of black magic and she loses almost all her powers to save the patient.
When the spell is broken, a masked intruder came through a fire portal and demanded to know who has broken the magic spell. He intended to kill the healer. He hurled the dagger at Sulochana and tries to kidnap Satya. Veerata and Madhava try to stop him but they are no match for him. Sulochana sneaks up behind him, bites her teeth into the intruder’s left ankle, and frees Satya. The intruder was CHARAKA, Videha’s strongest warrior. Veerata has seen him before and fought with him during his northern campaign. Charaka can escape through the fire portal.
As per the earlier agreed condition, Satya is permitted to return to Satvikshila and was also given one thousand gold coins and a special imperial grant to study medicine at any of the four universities of Satayu.
The author of this novella has been able to keep up the suspense of the true identity of Satya till the end of the book. The descriptions of the fight in the tower of Amritambu, the princess’s escape and her study at the university, her kidnapping, and providential escape are all full of suspense.
Book Reviewed by Vathukkat Krishnan Kutty.