Historical Romance Book Review: Love in the Battleground by Kathakali Mukherjee

Love in the Battleground: A Maharashtrian Saga by Kathakali Mukherjee is a very different read. Set in 17th century Maharashtra, it brings Shivaji and his struggle to life. I didn’t know Shivaji was so heroic. Kathakali’s enthusiasm and knowledge comes through. There’s a long historical note in the beginning though- it might have been better to weave the background in the story. Read on for the full historical romance book review.

Historical Romance Book ReviewThe novel then begins with a striking image of a lone rider in the great outdoors. Formatting could have been better- although there are 416 pages, there’s text on only a third of the page, so it’s not an lengthy read.

Kathakali breathes life in the forts and the historical period she has chosen. A touching love story blossoms between young Raghupati and Saryu. The sledging of the warriors is realistic- “dilli ki billi” and “Maratha mountain rats” is a nice touch.

There’s a thrilling encounter between the enemies and a stirring speech about Rajputs having resources unlike the Marathas. Although I’ve visited Pratapgarh fort, its historical significance made me look at it with new eyes. I also doubly want to visit Sinhagad fort now.

Kathakali uses contrast well to add nuances to her writing style. There’s a pulsating scene of taking over the fort. Romance gives a respite from warfare. We see that war is unpredictable- a friend today can be an enemy tomorrow. Shivaji treats the ones he has vanquished respectfully. There’s a dramtic scene between Raghupati and Shivaji.

The role of religion is woven well in the story here- the Maratha frustration with a Muslim ruler, their belief in Goddess Bhawani. I liked these lines- “The crowd that was assembled in the court flowed like a river through the gate. The river met in the large human ocean on the Delhi roads.”

The dilemma of a leader is captured well. How can he leave his soldiers behind and escape? We all know the tale of Shivaji’s escape, but the details here bring it to life.

The touch of art in warriors’ lives humanizes them as does the tale of thwarted love. This historical romance is a good read. Download it for free here. Here’s another history book review.

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