I was seeing this book racked in the shelf of a mini-library set-up at home, wanting to read it since long. I made up my mind this time and was glad that I did, as I turned one page after the other. Shivaji Savant seemed to have poured in all his writing skills to create this classic that keeps the reader engrossed till the very last page!
Karna, a character depicted in Indian mythology - Mahabharat, is described as Radheya (going by the name of his foster mother - Radha), Kaunteya (born to Rajmata Kunti), Suryaputra (son of the Sun), Sutaputra (going by his foster father - Adhirath's profession/caste of a horse-cart puller), Daanveer (known for charity), Yodha (warrior), a true friend, man of his words, and a brave-heart! As the life of Karna is unfolded through each page describing his birth, childhood, bravery, his ability to win people's hearts who did not judge him by his caste, sincerity, transformation to becoming a King and yet not leaving his roots, conquering many kingdoms yet paying respect to other Kings and soldiers, his family life - every situation keeps the reader grasped, wanting to read more.
Different chapters in the book are dedicated to different characters who touched Karna's life - Shon (his younger brother), Duryodhan (the Kuru Prince and his friend), Vrushali (his first wife), Kunti (his biological mother), Lord Krishna, and few chapters from Karna's point of view. This gives the reader a chance to know Karna's life more closely through the eye's of these other characters and understand the persona of this great warrior, and above all, a great person! Shivaji Savant has undoubtedly re-created the philosophy and psychology that revolves around Mahabharat, justifying Karna's character in the true sense - portraying his goodness as well as flaws.
Karna's life is well depicted as destiny's child, who having born as the most powerful warrior, still has to face humiliation all his life being unaware of his own genius by birth, and being tangled amid the Kings, Prince and Princesses, and Gurus, whose lives revolve around ego, selfishness, supremacy, treachery and revenge. Karna's character proves to be the greatest with his life surrendered to his ideologies, principles, integrity, selflessness, and love. Karna's school of thought, his behaviour, valour, are laid with all transparency by the author.
The lives of Pandavas, Duryodhan, Kunti, Pitamaha, even Lord Krishna and other leading characters are also shown in their true light, each having his/her glory and grey shades as well. The description throughout the book is so immense that it forces the reader to feel and imagine the happenings somewhere in the mind, and that is the genius of the author's skill! Belonging to the generation that used to be glued to the television on Sunday mornings to watch the Mahabharat episodes for months, it was interesting to picture that same actors for each character they played.
The book gives a humane touch to all these mythological characters, events and circumstances that we come across commonly, though not aggregating to such viscious and extreme reality. Nonetheless, the book epitomises life in its different shades and definitely gives us a learning for life. This book is worth a collector's copy and quite ensuring that you can read it all over again with the same interest and curiosity till the very end.