The Glory of Patan is a translation of the classic Gujarati novel Patan Ni Prabhuta – first in the series of Patan Trilogy. This historical fiction talks about the hay days of Patan when Solanki dynasty used to rule from Patan. I visited Patan to see the Rani ki Vav – built by one of the queens of Solanki dynasty. Since then, I have been wanting to read the history of Patan. It had to come in the form of this translation of K. M. Munshi’s famous work.
It is a story of the politics in royal families. A story of relationships between Jains and Rajputs. It is the story where women stay behind men but their role is like that of the neck – that decides where the head moves. It is the story of the glorious days of Gujarat.
The Glory of Patan is a beautifully written book. Each character is so well etched out. I am not sure how much of historical truth it contains – but the characters are all inspired by the known historical characters. There is Minal Devi – the reigning queen of Patan, who is the mastermind behind the politics of Patan. She has the ability to stay close to the man she loves while being married to the king. But, her hunger for power would drive her to not even trust him. Add to this the fact that she is a Jain married to a Rajput king – her loyalties can not be trusted by either side. She can play one against the other to stay on top.
Another protagonist of The Glory of Patan is Munjal Mehta – the prime minister of Patan, and the man Minal lost her heart to as a young princess. He maintains his distance but in the end, always protects her and gives in to her demands, even when he has been publicly humiliated by him.
There is a young couple who add the element of romance to the story with their coming of age stage in life. The girl comes from the family of Queen of Patan and but again from the Solanki dynasty. There is doubt, there is a power play, there is manipulation and there is a lot of passion.
There is the region of Gujarat – you understand how the kingdoms operated. And there are smaller segments of each kingdom who pay their taxes to the larger one. A kind of loose federation system. There are Nagar Seth’s or the wealthy merchants who funded almost everything – from the luxury lifestyles of the royal families to the wars. Without them, nothing much would move. Their allegiance is necessary for any king to succeed. You see the interdependence of these two different sides of the coin. You see the way wars were fought, how the army was kept motivated. It is a lesson in how Kingdoms operated.
You also get a fair introduction to the geography of Gujarat. The only question I have is that the story keeps referring to River Saraswati. This can not be the original Saraswati river of Indus Valley Civilization as it tried long before the time of Solankis in Gujarat.
There is an introduction to the life and times of author K M Munshi. This elaborate introduction not only sets a prelude for the story you would read but introduces you to the author, his background, his ideologies, his other works. In an analysis of this work i.e The Glory of Patan – it tells you about the highlights, it tells you about the things that you should not miss or skip while reading. The introduction reminded me of Jeevani or Life of an author that we used to write in our Hindi classes in school. I think this puts the work of an author in perspective.
Language is simple and goes with the flow of the story. Credit goes to the translators Rita and Abhijit Kothari. In period stories not written in the native language, it is a challenge to keep the reader in the era that the story belongs to. Translators have done a great job of maintaining the era in their narrative. What I like the most about Indian literature is the element of Rasa – the right mix of all the emotions that keep you bound to the story. This story too oozes out enough of Rasa for any reader.
The Glory of Patan is the first part in the series of Patan Trilogy. I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming translations of the series.
Must Read for historical fiction lovers.
Buy this book – The Glory of Patan by K M Munshi (English Translation) at Amazon.
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