The Vault of Vishnu is Ashwin Sanghi’s latest book in the Bharat Series. I have read all his books except for the first one. I usually enjoy reading his books as I like the research that he puts into his stories. Sometimes I feel collects his facts that are lesser know to laypersons and then put them in a story box to churn out a story. My favorite book of his remains Chanakya’s Chants but let’s talk about Vault of Vishnu for now.
With this book, Sanghi takes us to Indo-China relationships over the ages. Book has parallel narratives from the times of Xuanzang’s travel to India and current times when there are military operations across the borders of the two countries. The author carefully weaves the ancient links of the Pallava kingdom in South India and Cambodia to China through a modern-day story. Since I have been to most places mentioned in the book like Kanchipuram and Chidambaram, it made a fascinating read.
The story is a bit scattered in the beginning when the characters are being introduced, one after the other. It takes time to get the grip of the story. Soon the parallel narrative of the Chinese monk joins the narrative. You know there must be a convergence between the two stories separated by 1200+ years, but the author keeps you guessing what it could be. It is towards the middle that the story picks up the pace and then it turns into a page-turner.
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There are elaborate explanations of the technologies that are a part of the narrative be it the AI-driven robots being developed or the training of the monks in martial arts in China as well as in India. You know that author has invested his time in learning about these technologies to tell us about them. Then, there are elaborate history lessons especially about the Pallavas dynasty who ruled from Kanchipuram and had strong linked with Cambodia. There are virtual tours of the temples of Nataraja in Chidambaram and Angkor Wat in Cambodia along with the route of the famous Chinese traveler. You get detailed history lessons during these tours. Absolutely relevant, but stretched a bit at times.
Read More – Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi
The story is more of a spy story. As it always happens in these stories, it is eventually spy versus spy story. No one knows who is with them and who is against them. So everyone is more or less working alone. There is a romantic track amidst all the tension and a family melodrama. There is the story of a scientist whose project is shelved in the middle by the government, isolating him from all research. Seems too close to some real-life cases.
Read More – Keepers of the Kalachakra by Ashwin Sanghi
The language of Ashwin Sanghi as always is simple and easy to understand. You rarely have to refer to a dictionary. The technical terms are well explained. The older story uses the names of the places as they were during those times. I was so happy to see all the footnotes explaining the current names of the places. It made it easy to trace the journey mentally. Personally, for me, this was quite fascinating as I love discovering old names of the places. This is also another angle that the author seems to have researched well.
Read More – Chasing the Monk’s Shadow by Mishi Saran
Overall, an enjoyable read. I read the author’s books for his ability to connect the ancient with the future, not many have the ability to do it.