Book Review : Rise of Kali by Anand Neelakantan @itsanandneel

Title : Rise of Kali

Author : Anand Neelakantan

Genre : Mythological Fiction

Page : 530


THE MAHABHARATA ENDURES AS THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA. While Jaya is the story of the Pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of Kurukshetra, Ajaya is the tale of the Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man.

From the pen of the author who gave voice to Ravana in the national bestseller, ASURA, comes the riveting narrative which compels us to question the truth behind the Mahabharata.

THE DARK AGE OF KALI IS RISING and every man and woman must choose between duty and conscience, honour and shame, life and death…

The Pandavas, banished to the forest following the disastrous games of dice, return to Hastinapura.

Draupadi has vowed not to bind her hair till she washes it in the blood of the Kauravas.

Karna must choose between loyalty and gratitude, friend and Guru.
Aswathama undertakes a perilous mission to the mountains of Gandhara, in search of the Evil One.

Kunti must decide between her firstborn and her other sons.

Guru Drona has to stand with either his favourite disciple or his beloved son.

Balarama, having failed to convince his brother about the adharma of violence, walks the streets of Bharatavarsha, spreading the message of peace.

Ekalavya is called to make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold a woman’s honour.

Jara, the beggar, sings of Krishna’s love while his blind dog, Dharma, follows.

Shakuni can almost see the realization of his dream to destroy India.

As the Pandavas stake their claim to the Hastinapura throne, the Kaurava Crown Prince, Suyodhana, rises to challenge Krishna. As great minds debate dharma and adharma, power hungry men prepare for an apocalyptic war. The women, highborn and humble, helplessly watch the unfolding disaster with deep foreboding. And greedy merchants and unscrupulous priests lie in wait like vultures. Both sides know that beyond the agony and carnage the winner will take all. But even as gods conspire and men’s destinies unfold, a far greater truth awaits.


Rise of Kali is the second and the last book in the Ajaya Duology by Anand Neelakantan which says the story of Mahabharata from the perspective of Suyodhana aka Dhuryodhana. This book follows the events of the part one, Roll of the dice.

The first book ended with the most disgraceful event of the epic – the disrobing of Draupadi. Until then Suyodhana’s character was flawless but this event brought about a tend in his character even for the readers who admired and adored Dhuryodhana. Understanding this situation the author starts the second book Rise of Kali with a very interesting scenario and that ultimately came as a great and befitting redemption for Dhuryodhana’s damaged image.

The author builds up a curiosity right from the very beginning and it persist till the very end. Right when you feel like almost every important anecdote of the epics have been told and what more the author has to write about ? He diligently surprises us with his unique story telling power and many untold events. The way in which he had woven this well known epic from a very different aspect and in a very interesting way was the strength of this book and the author.

The most interesting thing about Anand Neelakantan’s writing is, he never infiltrates any magical elements into the book. He never said any of the characters had super powers and he simply depicted Krishna as a human and there was no mythical powers involved behind the birth of the famous Pandavas. The way he humanified the entire epic was so interesting and relatable even for today’s world and generation.

The characterization of Duryodhana was extraordinary and his character never cease to amaze us with his generous heart and his integrity. The love he has for his friends was really inspiring, he is definitely the epitome of friendship. This book also showed some of shortcomings of Karna and that was really thought provoking. And this book deliberately sings the glory of the real unsung heroes of this epic, Eklavya and Aswathama. Through this book the author has exhibited Aswathama and Eklavya’s love for Dhuryodhana was no way lower thaan Karna’s. This is something most of the interpretations of Mahabharata fails to talk about in great detail. The friendship shared between Dhuryodhana, Karna, Aswathama and Eklavya was an epic in itself. And it obviously deserves a separate book to talk about.

In this book, two innocent characters were introduced to the readers, they both were beautiful souls but who had a tragic life and ending. They were Dhuryodhana’s daughter and son, Lakshmana Kumara and Kumara. Their introduction part was the most adorable sequence of the book and the relationship shared between Dhuryodhana’s daughter and Ekalavya was really cute and heart warming.

The dirty politics played by Shakuni and Krishna was unacceptable and really cruel. The whole conflict wouldn’t have happened if not for these two guys. And there was this character called Dhayumya whose character was extremely horrible than any other bad characters you would’ve seen.

The author had cover a lot of things and that includes how the Pandavas and their allies treated Pandava’s illegitimate sons, Khatodkacha and Iravan. And that showcased their mindset and core personality. These events were really ugly and heartbreaking. Mild and subtle incidents that the author had written had a lot of impact on the character development of each and every character. Obviously, this book will make the readers realize how good a story it is. You cannot simply stop astonishing at the storytelling ability of The Great Sage Vyasa. This is remarkably one of the best stories the world has ever witnessed.

For the most part of the book the author vividly covered all the war sequences. And it broadly showed how both the side fought their war. The Pandavas, who considered to be the heroes of the epic had almost broken every single law and actually won the war through crook and hook whereas the so called villains had never step away from the path of Dharma.

This book did not vilify the Pandavas but it simply just manifested their inability to think on their own and act as per their heart’s wishes. Most of the time, it felt really sad to look at these five brothers who were caught up in the whirlpool of orthodox fanatics’ illusion which emphasis on divinity of non existential things like caste, godly lineage and so on.

Whereas, on the other hand, it was so fulfilling to look back at the glorious life lead by Dhuryodhana because he acted as per her heart’s wishes. He had a great sense of social justice and responsibility and that was exhibited through his every deeds and actions. He wanted to bring about a social order where nobody is constrained or caged by the orthodox thought process of the society. He is such a hero material. It was really astonishing to see a man with such a commitment towards society, that too especially during that period.

After reading this book, Dhuryodhana was the only character who stood tall and mighty throughout the book. He acted like a human and accepted his shortcomings and flaws, and that’s what made him better than every other characters in the book.

And definitely, it is totally a worthy read.

My Views


The best book, I have ever read. I loved this duology so much. Today I’m falling short of words to describe my love for this book. I have always liked Dhuryodhana but this duology and the author gave me the correct and reasonable reasons to love him. This man was really perfect and he just did one deadly mistake and the world started to see him as the villain and turned blind eye towards all his goodness and positives.

If you are a mythology lover, you should absolutely read this book. Or if you’re someone who had watched the Mahabharata series on your tele and loved it, then please do give this book a shot because it is such an amazing book and I literally want every single person to read this book and believe me, you will not regret it.

Anand Neelakantan’s books are the only books I sit with pen and keep on highlighting nonstop and I totally love doing it.

Please SS Rajamouli, turn this wonderful book into a movie and only you can do justice to this amazing plot written by Anand Neelakantan.

Okay, so my top most favorites of this epic would be Suyodhana aka Dhuryodhana, Karna, Aswathama, Eklavya, Bhanumati and Balarama.

My rating for this book would be 5 out of 5 stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Please do read this book and let me know what you feel about it on the comment box below!

Book 1 : Roll of the Dice – Book Review

Happy Reading Folks!!

~ Meenu


  • Meenu Annadurai

    Meenu Annadurai is the founder & editor of The Nerdy Bookarazzi. Meenu is a Customer Specialist by day and a writer by night. She published her debut novel 'A Place called Home' with Half-Baked Beans which is now available on Amazon. She is insanely addicted to her bookshelf and super possessive about them. She is in a serious relationship with her current Book Boyfriend. [email protected] Annadurai Meenu