Book review | Chanakya by Ashok K. Banker

Author: Ashok. K. Banker

Genre: Historical fiction 

No. of pages: 168

Published on: 25th June 2018

Published by: Westland 

Format: Paperback 

My rating: ★★★★★

Chanakya is the first book from the Itihasa Trilogy by author Ashok K. Banker and in the first book of the installment, the author gives a fictional outlook on the childhood days of the greatest economist the world has ever seen.

The story starts by giving a glimpse of Chanakya's brilliance. Since the author has set this book when Chanakya was just a child of seven years, the author uses his birth name, Vishnu Gupta, throughout the book. Little Vishnu has an incredible eidetic and echoic memory and he's better versed in all the Vedic verses than his gurus. And when his father gets a chance to visit a conference for Brahmins in the Mauryan capital, Pataliputra, he decides to take Vishnu with him because it would be a great learning experience for Vishnu as well. So his whole family travels to Pataliputra.

On reaching Pataliputra, Vishnu's perception of justice-injustice is shaken. The Prime Minister has his reign over the Mauryan Emperor and the whole empire, by using violence and terror. Every unjust blow and death sentence that the evil Prime Minister pronounces upon innocent subjects, is deemed as justice in the Prime Minister's court. So little Vishnu decides to put an temporary end to the Prime Minister's tyranny in his own cunning way. The first book shows how Vishnu starts his life in Pataliputra by starting his journey towards being 'Chanakya' as the world knows him. 

I'm honestly a new fan of Ashok K. Banker now. I love when authors twist history and come up with a whole new story about famous and infamous historical people. Ashok K. Banker in one such tremendously gifted author who knows how to spice up facts and turn them into fiction.

The very thing that I loved about this book is how Chanakya has been portrayed. The Chanakya we read about in history books is defined as a crafty advisor to Chandra Gupta Maurya. The pictures we have seen so far makes us believe that maybe Chanakya was one of those straight-faced no nonsense men who can only think about ascending the ladder. But in this book we get a childish, playful and humble side of young Chanakya. 

Coming to the fictional setup of the book, I can only say that it was amazing. I never expected to read a small fictional tale. I was expecting facts only snippets about how Chanakya became Chanakya. However, it was a really pleasurable read. How a little boy outwits his gurus and his father is something to look forward to.

The story also includes the childhood back story of Chandra Gupta Maurya and King Dhanananda, thus showing us the beginning of their lives as the usurper of the Mauryan dynasty and the emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, respectively. This book is a really interesting read and an entertaining one. Anyone who loves fictional take on history should definitely pick this one up. I am so eager to read the next two books in the trilogy.

Ashok K. Banker's writing style has a very subtle old-school charm to it. I mean to say that though the story is purely fictional, readers may be easily tricked into thinking that the events actually took place centuries ago. This is a positive aspect of the book. The simple yet sophisticated approach to the words makes the book a pleasurable read. I really have nothing critical to say about the style so I am pointing out all the good reasons why you should pick up this short and crisp book. 

Ashok K. Banker is the internationally acclaimed author of over 60 books that have sold over 3 million copies in 21 languages and 61 countries. His hugely successful Ramayana Series is credited with having launched the genre of English-language mythological retellings and influenced an entire generation of authors. As a journalist, he broke front-page news stories for the Times of India and Outlook. As a screenwriter, he created and wrote India’s First TV Series in English, and co-created and co-wrote Malaysia’s First TV Series in English, as well as several other hit shows. Born in Mumbai, Ashok is of Irish-Portuguese-Sri Lankan-Indian parentage, and lived in India for over 51 years before migrating with his family to the United States, where he now lives. Ashok can be found online at

I received a copy of the book from Writersmelon in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. 


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