HINDUSTAN TIMES REVIEW - The Emperor's Riddles
The Emperor's Riddles, Satyarth Nayak's debut novel, straddles the territory living in the present but breathing in the past. A new addition to the fast-filling stable of Indian historical fiction, the story takes off from the murder of a renowned historian on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi. But the bizarre murder scene, which has alphabets curved on the dead man's face that has an eyeball missing, leaves more questions than answers. Enter the strapping author-cum-adventurer, a mysterious filmmaker, and the scientist-daughter of the deceased and the author takes us on a 400-page journey that traverses the country in the quest for an enigma so powerful "that even the gods would kill for it".
Nayak manages to weave a gripping tale of intrigue and treasure-hunt and the plot, though non-linear, moves swiftly. The trio has to solve nine separate puzzles in a journey that takes them from Chidambaram to Hardwar to my personal favourite Kolkata, where the ancient riddle directs them to my alma mater, Bose Institute, my original motivation behind reviewing the book. he constant invocation of the number nine--its numerological importance notwithstanding --in everything ranging from phone numbers to the year 2007, seem a little forced. However, these are minor irritants and don't take much away from an otherwise pacy thriller. I suspect The Emperor's Riddles would have received a far more warm welcome from an enthusiast of the genre. In the hands of a cynic, though, Nayak's taut narration and an interesting climax makes a convincingly good-reading case.
Available at AMAZON, FLIPKART, CROSSWORD and all leading bookstores.
Edited by SatyarthNayak - 19 August 2014 at 3:35am