Sunday, May 2, 2010

REVIEW: The Last Victory

The Last Victory: The Imperial Agent II
Timeri N. Murari
Rs 399
Pp 432
ISBN: 0143065726

It is October 1910 and the lovers Kim and Parvati are fleeing across India, escaping forces beyond their control. They know that great changes are afoot—the Mahatma’s ideas are gaining ground and the Indian National Congress is about to change remarkably with the entrance of Jawaharlal Nehru. Ahead lie turbulent times that will reveal the ruthlessness of the Empire and give rise to the promise of independence.

Kim and Parvati’s lives criss-cross those of many known and unknown Indians who believe in the Indian nation, and they too are swept into the very centre of the struggle for independence, where they must confront their terrifying tormentors.

Taking off from The Imperial Agent, where Timeri Murari masterfully recreated Kipling’s free-spirited and idealistic hero, Kimball O’Hara, The Last Victory is a thrilling account of Kim’s life—from the uncertainty of youth to an illuminating maturity mirrored only by the brilliance of a new India.

High voltage drama Hindu
Exploring this novel is somewhat like opening a carefully preserved album of beautiful images and wondering if they'll survive the harsh light of scrutiny. Any work of fiction that dares to toy with the historical past risks courting that danger. And the final days of the Raj, in particular — the subject of The Last Victory— has inspired so many memorable tomes that yet another novel, which gives it pride of place would, one imagines, invite more intense critical attention than most.

But Timeri N. Murari's grand Raj production (for that is how this sequel to The Imperial Agent comes across) will probably get away unscathed. Its meticulously researched historical backdrop notwithstanding, the book adroitly escapes being judged by the criteria that would apply to a historical novel. The thoroughness of this research is evident as the author weaves his suspense-charged fictional episodes around real-life events — among them, World War I and the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre — and smoothly incorporates personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru into his narrative, making them come alive in imagined sequences, even if there is a tendency towards stereotyping in the delineation of such characters as General Reginald Dyer of Jallianwallah Bagh notoriety who vows to “teach the bloody wogs a lesson they'll never forget”.

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