It was with great curiosity that I read the book ‘300 Brave Men’.
This historical fiction based on the early life of Chhatrapati Shivaji, an iconic figure ofMaharashtra is very engaging. The book is written in a lucid language and recreates the sequence of events in an easy conversational style. It transports the reader into a time capsule compelling him/her to become a part of the narrative.
The author maintains a good balance between historical fact and fiction. Not deviating from the facts of history, the novel reconstructs the early life of Shivaji to appeal to the new age reader. Such historical novels are aplenty in Marathi and the author seems to have clearly been inspired by them. A historical novel written in English on this subject was however, long overdue.
However, there are a few observations that I would like to make. The author’s idolation of Chhatrapati Shivaji is very evident and the narrative as such eulogizes the icon. Historical writing must attempt at an objective understanding of the subject. In the light of this, a critical evaluation of the hero of the novel and events by the author would have made the novel more contemporary.
In some instances, the author had delved into too many details that may well have been kept away from the main narrative. A racy account would sustain the interest of the general reader.
The author writes with the assumption that readers understand medieval Indian political and military concepts. Young readers may not comprehend these concepts and contextualize the narrative better.
Notwithstanding any of these observations, the book makes very interesting reading and is certainly un-put-downable.
Dr Sonali Pednekar
Professor and Head, Department of History
V G Vaze College, Mulund (E)