Book Review

The Icon by R. Nandakumar

Publisher: Leadstart publishing | Genre: Historical Fiction, 

Author R. Nandakumar is able to infuse his story with historical detail, plot twists, and a panoply of characters and motives to keep the action fresh, even while adhering to a familiar storyline. The book turned out to be something more contemporary, infused with interesting forensics.

Title: The Icon

Author: R. Nandakumar

Publisher: Leadstart publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction,

First Publication: 2021

Language: English

 

Book Summary: The Icon by R. Nandakumar

In the hamlet of Pookkudi in Tamil Nadu, an archaeological team excavates a mysterious statuette of a woman in black granite. The localities seem to know who the woman was, and folklores about her life are well-known and the team too is convinced of these. Yet, Ananthan a young archaeologist in the team, keeps questioning the authenticity of these claims. In the interregnum of a fortnight awaiting the carbon dating result, Ananthan pays a visit to his octogenarian grandfather whose health is in a sinking state.

The old man, a former professor, has written a novel based on the history of Travancore and Tamil Nadu. The story is set two hundred years ago around the unnatural death of Ranganatha Deekshithar, a famous musician, and Kaveri, an eminent dancer, who is convicted of this murder by the royal police. He wrote the story based on the facts revealed to him and the assumptions he could make thereof. But he always felt there was something amiss. He believes that unless the story is cleared, his soul would not leave the nest of his body. He wants his scion, Ananthan, to take up the mission of rewriting it in line with historical facts so that he can die peacefully.

From then on, Ananthan traverses through the dark recesses of history, which is embellished by music, dance, love, deception, revenge, and murder. What is the real story? Will the carbon dating results prove his theory to be correct? Will he be able to unfold the mystery and find who committed the murder, how, and why?

Book Review - The Icon by R. Nandakumar

Book Review: The Icon by R. Nandakumar

There must be a particular sub-genre of the historical-mystery-adventure novel, one that relies on a discovery from antiquity that has real-world implications, or that upends hundreds or thousands of years of presumed wisdom. Surely the top of this heap is Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. There are many others. In this one a strange statue of a woman is discovered in Tamil Nadu. With a history rich in relics and Indian myths, The Icon by R. Nandakumar is part of this segment of mysteries surrounding the question of just what happened to that woman two hundreds years ago.

The novel begins with a team of archaeologists excavates a mysterious black granite statuette of a woman in Pookkudi, Tamil Nadu. It appears local residents know who the woman was, and local folklore about her life is widely accepted and believed by the team too. Ananthan, a young archaeologist in the team, questions the authenticity of these claims. The team is waiting for the carbon dating result to be ready, meanwhile Ananthan visits his ailing grandfather.

Anantham’s grandfather, a former professor, has written a novel using the history of Travancore and Tamil Nadu as a theme. The story revolves around the unnatural death of Ranganatha Deekshithar, a famous musician two hundred years ago. It leads to the arrest of a dancer, Kaveri, who is then convicted by the royal police of murdering Ranganatha Deekshithar. He wrote the story based on the facts told to him and the assumptions he could make thereof. However, he always felt that something was wrong. In his opinion, his soul will remain trapped in his body unless the story is cleared up and for that he wants Ananthan to rewrite it in accordance with historical facts. As a result, Ananthan goes through the black side of history, which is dazzlingly embellished with music, dance, love, deception, revenge, and murder.

Author R. Nandakumar is able to infuse his story with historical detail, plot twists, and a panoply of characters and motives to keep the action fresh, even while adhering to a familiar storyline. The book turned out to be something more contemporary, infused with interesting forensics. Indeed R. Nandakumar rescues the familiar and makes it his own, set against an interesting background of the juxtaposition of the old and new. For those looking for a good historical fiction that can stand on its own literary feet, The Icon by R Nandakumar is sure to satisfy.

The Icon by R. Nandakumar is a page-turner, one that offers a bit of payload regarding ancient mystery and historical research. From the very beginning I couldn’t put it down. I did not know where author would take the story next. Following the main character Ananthan, an archaeologist on his first great adventure was breath-taking. In ‘The Icon’, author R. Nandakumar did a wonderful job keeping everything a mystery until absolutely necessary to reveal the secrets. He combines thriller with mystery, historical and science elements in an outstanding way and creates an historical thriller that you just cannot put down.

One of the greatest aspects of this book is the historical elements. There are times that it feels like you’re watching a documentary, but an exciting one at that! Another great element that really is one of the reasons that I like this books so much is the setting. The author uses  gorgeous places, Pookkudi and Travancore, as the background of his story. The descriptions of the city and the places are breathtaking and mesmerizing. You feel like you are there.

The characters are believable, flawed but valiant, and the villains who thrive on carnage, destruction and the accumulation of wealth. So, if you want good historically based fiction or want outrageous, impossible or improbable stories based on one or two facts from history, The Icon by R. Nandakumar is for you.

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