Book Review of ‘Karna: The King of Anga’ by Kevin Missal
Updated: Sep 16
Original Article was published in my Medium Page
Photograph of the Book — Karna: The King of Anga taken from Kindle Books, Amazon
Sometimes I think of Homer, The Iliad;
‘Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again’…
The great warrior Karna, an ancient mythological character was not only a hero in the epic Mahabharata, but was also known as the most philanthropic King, the world ever knew. He was also known for his obstinate characteristic to do the thing, he thought was important for him to do. His inquietude to failure made him strong.
Karna’s childhood was a struggle, the so called humiliating, insulting word ‘Sutaputr’ (the son of a charioteer) thronged by humans who believed only the caste, indignant his consciousness and his efforts. All these because his own biological mother Kunti, a princess abandoned him and later he was adopted by Radha, the wife of King Adhirath. It was her mother Radha who taught Karna to worship Lord Sun, since he was the most powerful deity and a helper of humans. King Adhirath lost his kingdom when he was vanquished in the war with the powerful king of Magadha, Jarasandha. His childhood friend Dhritarashtra, the Maharaja (King of Kings) of Hastinapur ditched his friend and made him his Charioteer, in return to save half of his land from Jarasandha. Thus Karna’s name came to be as Charioteer’s son or Sutaputr.
Not only in Mahabharata, even in this story Karna’s life was pathetic and it was his inner powers, which bulwarked situations, so as to come out in flying colors. Karna’s character showed us that we should not get defeated, by any challenges and should move ahead in life with intellect and strength. That’s the life, he showed through his tenure on Earth. He loved Panchali deeply, irrespective of the fact that Panchali the princess of Panchal would marry Arjuna, since Karna was the son of a charioteer and Arjuna was a Kshatriya. He lost Panchali also due to his Social Status.
In the Hindu mythology, Karna was known as Vasusena, Anga-raja and Radheya. He is the tragic hero of the epic, who was born from the Sun God and his mother on Earth was Kunti, who had to leave him since she was not married then. Birth of Sun God gave Karna the status of a demi God. So, when he meets his mother Kunti at the later stage of his life, he came to know that he was the old half-brother and was fighting his own. So, with this grief, he still sided with his friend Duryodhan, who was the only prince who was there with him in his worst times. Thus the great philanthropic soul ended a life fighting against those who were his own and showed his evergreen friendship for his friend Duryodhan and died in the battlefield for him. This was as per the epic Mahabharata.
‘Karna: The King of Anga’ is a wonderful novel written by Kevin Missal, who through his own imaginations and thoughts taken from the Hindu Mythology portraited the early life of Karna. His fights for justice, his anger over the Maharaja of Hastinapur, Dhritarashtra, his eternal love for Panchali, the princess of Panchal, his stay at Gurukul (Modern day Academic Institutions) for gaining knowledge, his fight against Jarasandha, the King of Magadha and to fight hard in war, against those who made his family a suta-putr.
Kevin Missal tells the story where he mentions in the book that he was describing the characters who existed during the Iron Age of India around 900 B.C.E. In his novel Kevin, the author had shown Karna’s respect for woman and at the end, he says the same to his wife “I want Anga to be ruled by a Queen”.
He added later “I’ll be around as your support, but I won’t be here. All my life, my pursuit of chasing the promise I made, destroyed me. It made me cruel and angry. What Jara said I started the war. He’s right. I did. I brought death to this land, out of sheer determination to win. And in the process, I lost everything. I lost my uncle. I lost my people’s hope. I lost Devi. But thank goodness I didn’t lose you…..” (excerpts taken from Karna: The King of Anga)
Those words of Karna, one of the greatest warriors of history is sure to bring sympathy, who fought with times and finally won the Great War against one of the greatest King of Magadha and yet remained free from the status and the crown of the King. The author writes again through the character Karna, “I don’t want to hold any status, but I will help you rule the city. I don’t want to have the crown or anything of vanity. These things, they don’t hold any significance for me anymore…….” (excerpts taken from Karna: The King of Anga)
The Daanaveera (philanthropist) later fought the great war of Kurukshetra. However, Kevin Missal’s story which I feel is based on the Shanti Parva of Mahabharata, the war between Jarasandha, the powerful ruler of Magadha and Karna, the King of Anga. Although Jarasandha was a very powerful ruler, Karna defeated him and got Malini as a gifted land from him.
This is wonderful book but not the actual Mahabharata I personally feel. However, the writer has put forward his own imaginations in a language which will engross the readers to read more. While I finished reading I grinned because it was just not a novel but a story created from the essence of the epic Mahabharata to tell a tale of one of my heroic characters — Karna, the Surya Putra.
(Please Note: The above are my own personal thoughts after going through the book. Your views and opinions after reading the book may differ)
If I have to rate the book on 10 stars and 10 being the highest, I will give the book 9 stars.
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