First of all, “Chanakya of Serpents and Kings” got my attention because it won the best graphic novel in Comic-con India 2020. The book is a work of fiction that is actually based on the life of Chanakya and the historical events that took place at that time. It is published under Campfire Heroes. The author of the book is James Peaty who is known for his work for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Titan Comics, and Rebellion. The artist and Illustrator are Rajesh Nagulakonda who has worked on many titles before this under Campfire Publishers.
Chanakya: Of serpents and kings is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel to read. Story start from 323 BC when Alexander has returned to Babylon (somewhere in modern Iraq) as he was running out of his supplies and man after conquering most of the west. He left his few commanding generals at the borderlands of India which are still a threat for the Nanda empire ruling the Magadha – modern Bihar. The book skips the details of the part where Chanakya gets humiliated in the university of Taxila. Though it gives a glimpse that he wanted to warn the king that he should not be wise with the Macedonian king and his generals. They have their aim to conquer India. In contrast, Chanakya was a popular teacher at the University of Taxila – now near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He was one of the greatest men in the field of economics and political science.
After humiliation, Chanakya left Taxila university and was living in woods for long. As Chanakya was so popular for his cleverness and wit, Shaktar – a minister from Nanda’s empire approached him. He appeals him to convince king once again to get serious on the matter. You might know rest of the story but you should find out how it has been illustrated in the graphic novel itself.
The author, James Peaty takes his own approach to entertain and educate the world about the Chanakya. Though the most part of the book is common as other Chanakya books but there are some incidents which were shown in different way than we know so far.
Some dialogues in the book are difficult to understand for a casual English book readers like me. It forced me to use Google to understand the meaning. But if it isn’t a problem with you then this is going to be your best read about Chanakya life. I loved each verse written with every new chapter in the book.
Two of my favorites are:
One who understands diplomacy can handle both serpents and kings…’
There once was a merchant who burnt half his house to rid it of ants.’
The story, its Impact, Grip, and Concept – 9
The author has told the story in an unique way in parts. It grips your attention right from the beginning till the end. Even if you have read and known Chanakya’s role in the Ancient India, the author managed to grips readers till the end. I was sceptical before reading this too like what is more there to fuel my interest, but I was wrong. I will still cut off one mark as the story was re written. It wasnt an original concept. I couldnt cut more as even the story is retold author managed to make readers read with interest.
Cover Page – 8
The artist for both cover page and inside art is Rajesh Nagulakonda. It was his effort which made this story so gripping throughout but the cover page is not up to the mark to the standards we have seen in other recent graphic novels. I know the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and I accept the intense looks in the eyes of the Chanakya at cover page tells a lot but still the face looks a little odd.
Dialogues – 8
The narrative and dialogues are simple and difficult, both at different parts. As I mentioned above, I had to open Google for the word meanings on many occasions which distracted me from the story. And these word meanings are so important as they changed my perception of the illustration. This is the only reason I have cut one mark. The most impactful are the verses taken from the Chanakya’s book. So I must cut off one more mark in comparison to other graphic novels, for the lack of original work.
Inside art – 9
The inside art was good and illustrated the environment and emotions very well. I could see the anger, wisdom, fear, doubts and many such emotions throughout the art. I should say it would be a perfect 10 if we could have seen these in coloured pages.
If you have read a few books about Chanakya before this, you might go critical about this book. There are certain scenes that are contrary from the books we have read so far. In Chanakya: Of serpents and Kings, Parvata the king who allied the Chandragupta to conquer Nanda empire was poisoned as per Chanakya’s plan. It was illustrated the Parvata has evil plans to do so first. But in some books Parvata got accidently poisoned by a Vishakanya.
In Chanakya of serpents and Kings, Rakshasha – the minister of dead nanda king was blackmailed to accept the office of prime Chandragupta for the fear of his family while in a popular book “Mudra Rakshasa”, he was blackmailed for the fear of his friend.
Yet, the characters of Chanakya is a topic of debate for exceptionally long now. He has not written a book about his work or his life ever. There are more than 2 dozen of popular books available on the life of Chanakya and each one of them varies from each other if you go into details.
In short, I loved the book and James Peaty’s take on Chanakya. This book should not be seen as the actual events happened in the history but a tale that provide glimpse of history of Bhrarat and one of the most brilliant minds of ancient India
Few Facts about Chanakya and the Ancient India he Lived in
- Maurya empire established the day Chandragupta defeated Nanda empire.
- Maurya’s become Jain while Chandragupta’s grandson become Buddhist.
- Chandragupta’s son Bindusar always blamed Chanakya for his mother’s death.
- Chanakya was a brahmin and one of the greatest minds of his time yet he could not stop converting the Mauryan empire into Buddhists and Jain.
- Chanakya was also known as Kautilya and Vishnugupta.
Here are some more pictures from the graphic novel:
If you have something to say about my review or have suggestions please leave a comment at the end of the post.
CHANAKYA OF SERPENTS AND KINGS REVIEW
Chanakya of Serpents and Kings - Summary
First of all, “Chanakya of Serpents and Kings” got my attention because it won best graphic novel in Comic con India 2020. The book is a work of fiction which is actually based on the life of Chanakya and the historical events took place at that time.