The Begum: A Portrait of Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Pioneering First Lady – Deepa Agarwal, Tahmina Aziz Ayub – Book Review

The answer “Liaquat Ali Khan” would arrive like greased lightning if asked “Who was the First Prime Minister of Pakistan?” to any history buff or a quiz nerd. But many like me would not be aware of his spouse Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan as much as we know about Michelle Obama or Sonia Gandhi.

This biography “THE BEGUM: A Portrait of Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Pioneering First Lady” is a collaborative account co-authored by Deepa Agarwal from India and Tahmina Aziz Ayub from Pakistan. The intruiging title piques your interest along with the ravishing cover with a portrait of Begum Ra’ana in contrasting background shades of green and red designed by Ahlawat Gunjan. The introduction by Namita Gokhale, writer and the director of JLF gives us a glimpse about Begum Ra’ana’s magnetic personality and forward-thinking vision. Namita Gokhale also surprisingly shares her maiden surname and a common ancestry with Begum Ra’ana.

The book is divided into two symmetrical parts – the first part by Deepa Agarwal traces the life of Ra’ana born Irene Ruth Margaret Pant on 13 February 1905 in India, her school and college life, her marriage with Liaquat Ali Khan, and her final departure in 1947 to Pakistan after partition, and the second part by Tahmina Aziz Ayub documents the life of young Ra’ana as the first lady of Pakistan, the visionary founder of All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA), the farsighted diplomat, formidable stateswoman and Madar – e – Pakistan.

Deepa Agarwal’s meticulous anecdotal account traces the life of Begum Ra’ana from her childhood to her apparent departure across the border with her husband. Deepa’s account explores Begum’s early childhood in Almora providing insights about the conversion of the Pant family to Christianity from Orthodox Hindus traversing through the various holiday destinations she spent the summers, her stint as a professor of Economics in Delhi, her subsequent conversion to Islam following her marriage to Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan and their subsequent need to leave her family, country and donation of Gul-i-Ra’ana for the use as residence of Pakistan’s High Commissioner. Deepa also shares tiny interesting nuggets about Begum Ra’ana’s insistence of not parting with an old carpet because it belonged to her mother and also packing a suitcase full of cigarette lighters along with other possessions. This part by Deepa particularly engages the reader with the little-known anecdotes and sharing the myriad social, cultural and political influences that forged her forward-thinking thoughts and her magnetic personality.

Tahmina Ayub’s second part provides vivid insight into Ra’ana’s arrival in Pakistan with her husband and two sons, her illustrious role with other women aftermath the traumatic events of partition, her commitment and achievement in national development with the creation of All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA), her steadfast friendship with her lifelong companion Kay Miles who left everything to rally behind as a support to Begum Ra’ana, the tragic assassination of her husband Liaquat Ali Khan and her work as a humanitarian, women’s rights activist and nationalist who worked tirelessly for the empowerment of women in Pakistan. Although this part sometimes makes us weary with the repetition of certain anecdotes and facts, this precise part shows us the tenacity with which Ra’ana brought her two children despite the paucity of funds but also relentlessly working as beacon of hope for millions of women in the newly born nation illuminating people’s life with much needed confidence.

In the afterword written by Laila Haroon Sarfaraz, she shares the vital role Begum Ra’ana played in her life and about the prestigious women’s organization (APWA) which Ra’ana created and was instrumental in the creation of progressive women’s protection law in the country. The annexures and interviews where she shares openly about her disappointment regarding the partition and against the rise of religious conservatism and corruption makes this book a cogent read.

Deepa Agarwal and Tahmina Aziz Ayub’s captivating portrayal of a remarkable woman who was one of the fascinating figures of modern South Asia, who belonged to both sides of the Radcliff Line makes this a distinct and animportant book that should not be missed.


 

Favourite Quote:

“When you educate a boy you educate an individual but when you educate a girl you educate a whole family”. 

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 Rating :
Image result for four stars book

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About the Book:

 

The Begum

Title : The Begum : A Portrait of Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Pioneering First Lady

Authors : Deepa Agarwal , Tahmina Aziz Ayub

Publisher : Penguin Random House India

Genre : Non Fiction / Biography

Copy : Flipkart Review Programme Copy

ISBN : 978-9386228673               

       

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Ramayana Versus Mahabharata: My Playful Comparison – Devdutt Pattanaik – Book Review

Words are our (humans) most powerful and greatest tool. They have the power to inspire people, crush souls, create magical worlds and build empires. The art of storytelling has been hardwired into our lives and deeply rooted inside our brains. We, human beings crave for stories and it is clear as a crystal that we are obsessed with stories. The monomania for stories is palpable ranging from mythological tales from the past to the ultra-short micro-fiction to the latest epigrammatic stories composed within a single tweet and these disparate tales coexist side-by-side without any qualms.

It would be impossible for the people of our country to not being acquainted with the most popular epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata as we would have grown up hearing and reading it, relishing it with the appetite to read more of it. It never ceases to amaze that the zeal to know more about these epics never recedes as time passes but only surges with increasing time and changing periods.

Devdutt Pattanaik‘s latest book “Ramayana Versus Mahabharata: My Playful Comparison” delights us with its lucid cover and the tag ‘playful comparison‘ in the title piques the interest of the readers with an eagerness to discover to what “India’s Favourite Mythologist Writer” offers in this short book of 194 pages. He asserts that measuring is human delusion and comparing, divine play in the inception of the book.

The blurb of the book reads “In temples ritual, Vishnu is offered 8 different meals daily, different on all seven days of the week—56 dishes in all.” which is quite a surprise as the book is neatly divided into eight parts and 56 chapters, and both Lord Ram and Krishna are avatars of Vishnu.  Each chapter begins with the word “Both” and tries to convey the correlation between the epics giving the reader a glimpse into what the chapters offer within its words. The book, by and large attempts to compare the two epics, the idealistic Ramayana and the realistic Mahabharata for similarities and dissimilarities along with neat illustrations.

Ramayana Versus Mahabharata

The book is simple to follow and makes you wonder about some identical themes which have missed our eyes so far. It establishes the theme that each story share enabling us to view the identical building blocks, family structure, forest exile, and war. Devdutt also lays emphasis on the many retellings of both the epics spread all over the world and cleverly compares it with Greek, Buddhist, Jainist and Abrahamic mythologies. The book tries to introspect into the idea of complex casualty which is a key theme across epics. It dwells on karma and dharma as the basis of all happenings in the two epics.

Though the reader gets weary along the initial pages, the book with its beautiful comparison gets the reader on an exhilarating ride which would fill him with an immense knowledge of the epics. The book is a treasure trove of information on various retellings providing new insights into the epics which we would have unheard of. The arduous research that the author had undergone is evident from the unambiguous words and coherent concepts which he explains it with ease. The anecdotes from regional languages/versions of the ithihasas/epics will be a new experience for the readers. Although one couldn’t avoid a debate in the mind about the analysis of the epics by Devdutt Pattanaik, this makes it an interesting book to delve into, making it a staggering ride to remember with its brevity.

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About the Book:

Title : Ramayana Versus Mahabharata: My Playful Comparison

Author : Devdutt Pattanaik

Publisher : Rupa Publications

Genre : Non-Fiction / Philosophy

Copy : Flipkart Review Program

ISBN : 9789353332303

Rating : Image result for 3 stars out five

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Links :

Flipkart Ramayana Versus Mahabharata: My Playful Comparison

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Love Curry – Pankaj Dubey – Book Review

Have you ever drooled on seeing a colorful palette of luscious varieties of food with the appetizing aroma wafting through the dingy air, clogging our minds with the thought of devouring every single piece of meal stimulating our hunger pangs and brightening our dull minds? Life is like that delectable palette of dishes spread out in the table offering a melange of love, friendship, trust, confidence, victory, and exacting problems.

“Love Curry”, the title of Pankaj Dubey’s new book whets our interests with its sui generis title. The resplendent cover although minimal in its look grabs the eye of the reader with its splendor. The cover designer ought to be lauded for such a detailed thoughtful cover depicting the entire story through this minimal cover without much fuss. Although the title is deceptive to be mistaken for a cookbook (with a supporting illustration of curry in the making), the cover saves the reader from misjudging. The inclusion of Big Ben, London Bridge and the iconic red telephone box in a curry explains that the story is set in London with three red petals denoting the three main characters around whom the story revolves. Kudos to the publishing team, design team and the author for such a detailed cover which will surely catch people’s eagle eyes.

The plot begins with three flatmates rather friends, Shezad, a tattoo artist who hails from Bangladesh, Ali who is a Pakistani Chef and Rishi, an Indian still looking for a decent job who live in the picturesque capital of England, London. Life goes on for the three with their depressing pasts, finding solace with their loneliness until they start loving the same girl. They fall in love with their landlord’s daughter Zeenat who has her own set of problems to deal. The story then revolves around how each tries to woo the girl and the events that transpire because of their love forms the rest of the story.

The common thread which connects this neatly woven tale of love, friendship, mystery, and laughter is their love for food which justifies the intriguing title of the book. The story which begins on a squishy note brings with it the much-needed humor and also interesting twists (although most are predictable). The characters are well etched and established in the minds of the readers with their own interesting backstories. The plot is simple yet deeply moving without any sugar coating scenes which makes this a winner.

The language is easy to understand supported by the author’s crisp writing without digressing elsewhere staying with the flow with lots of humor interspersed all along the way. The climax was an unexpected move would let the reader divulging in nostalgic thoughts of their own. Though the inception of the story would make the reader think they are into another sophomore love story in the offing, the author clearly dispels that thought with the well-etched plot as the story proceeds. The story could be a much-sought potboiler with all the necessary ingredients at hand to be made into a love oozing Bollywood movie.

If you want to read a light-hearted fiction book that would make you fall in love all over again and also with food, this book is for you. Also, who doesn’t love a book which hit the right notes with the reader? Go read this lovely book.

 

 

Image result for love curry pankaj dubey

 

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                                               Rating :

Image result for four stars book

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About the Book: 

Title : Love Curry

Author : Pankaj Dubey

Publisher : Penguin Random House India

Genre : Fiction

Copy : Review Copy

ISBN : 9780143424505                       

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Links :

Flipkart Love Curry by Pankaj Dubey

Amazon : Love Curry by Pankaj Dubey

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                                                                    Happy Reading,

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Who Owns that Song?: The Battle for Subramania Bharati’s Copyright – A.R.Venkatachalapathy – Book Review

This review was published in Bengaluru Review (Edited version): A.R. Venkatachalapthy’s Who Owns That Song: The Battle for Subramania Bharati’s Copyright by John Corlos Ebenezer – Bengaluru Review



 

The Oxford Dictionary defines the term “copyright” as the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material. Subramania Bharati, the colossal progressive poet of  Tamilnadu whose nationalist writings and poems inspired and is still inspiring legions of people wouldn’t have pondered upon the thought that the copyright of his works would lead to a legal tug of war, with the government eventually acquiring his works releasing it in the public domain.

Subramania Bharati is touted to be the first writer in the world whose copyrights of his works were acquired by the State Government and put his writings in the public domain in 1949. This honor has eluded Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and even Rabindranath Tagore. To remind the readers, a trust held the copyright of Gandhi’s writings until it lapsed and passed into public domain in 2009. Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi holds the copyright to Nehru’s work until 2024 and publishers had free access to Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore’s works only after 1992. The nationalization of Bharati’s work by the Government of Tamilnadu made sure people devour the poet’s work without any hiccups or fears as it is in the public domain freed from the clutches of copyrights.

Even though he was not recognized while he was alive, he became a sensation with his writings becoming a posthumous bestseller. Bharati who spent more than 10 years in exile in Puducherry in his short span of 39 years, fiddled with free verses and haiku, was later came to be known as the “Founding Father of  New Tamil Poetry“. The gaze, his turban, and mustache like his writings, is still etched in the minds of people reminding us of the popularity of the poet in contemporary times.

A.R. Venkatachalapthy’s new book “Who Owns That Song: The Battle for Subramania Bharati’s Copyright” chronicles the journey of Bharati’s life as a writer and the subsequent legal quandary that eventually lead to the nationalization of his works. The cover with its exquisite turquoise blue background welcomes us with Bharati in his high collared black coat and dhoti holding a staff.

At the inception of the book, a section titled Dramatic Personae divulges details and introduces the characters giving glimpses from their lives. Venkatachalapathy sets the tone of the book with this section and begins the prologue with the title Copyright Claws which would make the readers clear of what they are about to encounter in the upcoming chapters making them even more inquisitive.

The book is divided into 4 breviloquent chapters and has a selected few poems of Subramania Bharati translated by M.L.Thangappa at the end. The book draws a meticulous portrayal of events that happened during and after the poet’s life. The author’s fluid and engaging words keep the book a real page-turner and he doesn’t shy away from sprinkling his academic finesse educating the reader all along. He uniquely takes forward the non-fiction which picks up the pace once the legal tussle begins.

The book never once appears hagiographical with the author fixing his focus on the events that lead to the nationalization of the poet’s work. The tale of how after Bharati’s death, his unlettered wife sold the rights for a paltry sum to Bharati’s half-brother and how a movie mogul initiated copyright contempt against another moviemaker for using the poet’s verses in his film is succinctly described through engaging chapters.

The book, even though teeming with details about numerous characters, never once appears insipid or vapid. The book untangles the role played by the Government, people and others who were instrumental in bringing the poet’s work into the public domain. This insightful book will be an eye opener for all the people to know more about the national poet who died in obscurity without knowing his writings would live to kindle spirits even after decades of his death. Another beauty is that the book never ventures into the polemic realms with whom the copyright of an artist must be vested upon.

It also starkly reminds the readers, how we have failed Bharati by not popularising his works, who is a contemporary of Tagore. It is no wonder that Bharati in one of his essays wrote, “From now on support and succor for the arts will come from the common people. It is the duty of the artists to instill good taste in them. It will yield them good returns” in 1916.

To remind, Delhi High Court ruled in 2016 in one of its cases, Copyright is designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public. Copyright is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the public”. 

The Government of Tamilnadu has since then acquired more than 100 writers work and nationalized it. Remember, it all started with Subramania Bharati.

 

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 Rating :
Image result for four stars book

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About the Book:

Title : Who Owns That Song: The Battle For Subramania Bharati’s Copyright

Author : A.R.Venkatachalapathy

Publisher : Juggernaut Publications

Genre : Non Fiction

Copy : Review Copy

ISBN : 978-9386228673                       

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Links :

Flipkart : Who Owns That Song by A.R.Venkatachalapathy

Amazon : Who Owns That Song by A.R.Venkatachalapathy

Also you can read it in the Juggernaut App or the Website here.

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Pinto Has An Idea – Rajeev Saxena – Book Review

Have you ever pondered upon this thought? What would transpire if ever human race were devoid of ideas?

“Ideas make the man”.

Pinto Has An Idea

Ideas still remain the crux of change in our world’s sophistication. With new ideas, there emerge changes which make the world a better place to live in. We now have the world in the tip of our hands and have aspirations to reach the remotest place in the far-flung space which is all due to a spark of an idea. Ideas do wonders in making our life simple.

 

Rajat Srivastava is an eminent scientist known for his research and ideas across the orb. His parents call him Pinto and people prefer to use that name too. Pinto is an out of the box thinker with a keen sense of inventing new stuff to help people ease their lives. He studies hard, cracks the toughest IIT exam, enters IIT Kanpur and does research at the MIT. But he realizes his calling for innovating stuff which he is most comfortable with from his childhood and returns to India leaving behind his works on theoretical physics. He marries Lavanya who is like a pillar to Pinto also helping him with his inventions with her keen eye for research.

 

Did Pinto find solutions for problems to make people’s lives easier, did he cross all the adversaries which stood in his way in doing so and emerge triumphant forms the rest of the novel.

The book strikes a chord with the readers with its unique characters and a riveting plot which makes it engrossing. Pinto who is the protagonist of the novel carries the entire novel in his shoulders with his hankering for creating things. He strives to untangle the complexities of life with his simple ideas to create things making life simpler. Lavanya, Pinto’s partner who stands by him like a pillar is a character which stands apart in our hearts. The author has made every effort to make a captivating plot which is both intriguing and makes us think.

The book is filled with umpteen ideas which would surprise the readers. The ideas would make the readers ponder upon making it a reality and about its execution. This makes the book a winner compared with its counterparts. The book is not leading us astray even though there are incessant characters and innumerable anecdotes.

The writing is simple for everyone to understand but somewhere in the middle, there is a lag which makes a dent in the book’s brilliance. The brevity in explaining convoluted ideas easing the intricacies make this book stand apart from other fiction which all focuses on love mostly. The writing is also interlaced with wit and some excellent observations on the world.

The end was so subtle which would have disappointed some readers but that makes this unique because life always doesn’t give you a filmy racing climax. Despite the lag in the middle, the book emerges a clear winner standing apart making its message clear and loud, that Pinto would ace the reader’s heart with his brilliance.

This book is for all fiction fans who look out for out of the box plot with a phrenic protagonist and an engrossing plot.

Would I like a sequel on the adventures of Pinto?

Why not?

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 Rating :
Image result for four stars book

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About the Book:

Title : Pinto Has An Idea

Author : Rajeev saxena

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing (IN)

Genre : Fiction

Copy : Flipkart Review Program

ISBN : 9789386826930, 9386826933                       

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Links :

Flipkart Pinto Has An Idea by Rajeev Saxena

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The Boys Who Fought – Devdutt Pattanaik : Book Review

There would never be a day where stories cease to exist, I assure. With technology preponderating most of our valuable time with its zillion apps, hashtag trending, social media posts, and fake news, the monomania for stories still exists and it never been out of focus the whole time. The appetite for epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana never fades away. These were probably the stories we would have read many times and it doesn’t bore us even if we were to read it many a time again.

Devdutt Pattanaik “India’s favorite mythologist” is back with his new book “The Boys Who Fought”, a simpler version of the great epic Mahabharata for Children. It is similar to his previous work of “The Girl Who Chose” which was a simple retelling of Ramayana with fantastic illustrations.

The book presents itself as a compressed version of Mahabharata with the focus on main characters bringing the book under 106 pages. Although this is a condensed version the story is beautifully explained with the help of his illustrations which makes the book compelling and page turning. The book doesn’t delve deep into the aspects of war deviating from it and tends to explain it in the perspective of Dharma which was quite a surprise for me.

The writings are simple and easy to understand which makes it hassle-less to follow the book. The illustrations in the book are the main attraction with laudable efforts from the author denoting characters with a letter for each, which makes it easy to identify the characters for the readers. The book is divided into six parts to describe the Pandava’s fight as orphans, refugees, kings, exiles, warriors and hermits. This further makes it easy for the readers to understand the story better.

The book essentially for children also attracts adults and elders with its own kind of uniqueness among other retellings. The additional information along the bottom of the pages is a notable one as it provides wide knowledge of folk versions of the epic, the characters, and other incidents. The book would a great way to indulge the interest of children in reading books.

The original epic consists of many characters, the focus is only on the Pandavas, Kauravas and other important characters to make the book shorter. Although I would have expected some more characters still to make it full-fledged. Devdutt’s interest in retelling epics in a simple and profound way has to be lauded. Simple language, vivid illustrations, footnotes containing additional information would make this a great book to cherish.

The book, although a short read would be much of much interest to children and would be a great gift for parents who wish to indulge their children in reading stories and epics.

 

The Boys Who Fought

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About the Book:

Title : The Boys Who Fought: The Mahabharata for Children

Author : Devdutt Pattanaik

Publisher : Penguin Random House India

Genre : Fiction

Copy : Flipkart Review Program

ISBN : 9780143441618, 0143441612

Rating :  

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Links :

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Empire – Devi Yesodharan – Book Review

It’s always bewitching to find historical fiction in the bookstores and in your bookshelves. It’s not just because for the information or the plot, it’s rather the landscapes they brief through which the characters saunter, the period or the century to which the plot and the characters belongs to, the kind of nostalgia it brings through the writings, all make the readers crave for historical fiction. Atleast that’s what I think of historical fiction.

And to my surprise there are very few books in English that has offered to describe in fiction about the stories of Cholas. Devi Yesodharan’s “EMPIRE” seems to fulfill that vague fissure by writing a plot set in Nagapattinam about Cholas. The interesting thing is that the plot follows the events that happen after a foreigner is trained to become a Chola, that too a woman named Aremis.

The cover design for the book done by Wasim Helal is wonderful with simple and profound illustrations. The clever placement of Yavani at the backside of the cover revealing only the enraged Chola warriors and the elephants is a good one that will intrigue the reader about the book.

The author has described that this is an accidental novel, but the details that go inside describing the landscapes of the 11th century Nagapattinam, the depiction of the characters of that times, the heirarchies and the extent of the social structures reveals that this is a well researched book that doesn’t disappoints on its grandeur. The plot is well set and the characters are woven around one another in a neat fashion though at some places the story strays from the plot but the author makes sure the plot is back from where it started. The characters of Anantha, Shrey, Aremis, Mandakini are struck in the readers mind and this shows the level to which the author has etched these characters potraying them with the plot.

The canny use of verses based on anonymous poets for a song sung by Anantha and Padma is taken from classical Tamil Anthology “AKANANURU” clearly indicates that the author clearly establishes his genius upon the readers.

The plot reveals before our eyes like a movie and it is easy to follow since the narration is in a first person and no confusion follows because of that. I couldn’t believe this is a debut book that is this grandeur in its plot and I could also see good comments for the book already.

But still, the abrupt ending of the book without mentioning about what happens to Aremis in Nagapattinam, the cunning plans of Perumbil and about the prophecy had me in confusion and cliffhanger. I expect the author would have reserved it for a sequel of the book and why not expect it ? It would be very cool to have a sequel for the Empire and I will be waiting for it very eagerly. With a rich imagination of a plot like this, I could already sense a movie in the making.

 

Some of my favourite quotes : 

Background Image Credits : Juggernaut Publications Website 

Editing of the Quotes : Corlos Zudin

P.S : Please give due credits to Juggernaut Publications and Corlos John  if you ever use this image. Request. 

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About the Book:

Title : Empire

Author : Devi Yesodharan

Publisher : Juggernaut Publications

Genre : Historical Fiction

Copy : Review Copy

ISBN :  9789386228376, 9386228378

Rating :  23bae-4-52bstars

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Links :

Get the digital book in Juggernaut here : Empire by Devi Yesodharan (Juggernaut)

Flipkart : Empire by Devi Yesodharan

Amazon :  Empire by Devi Yesodharan

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Happy Reading,

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