Monday, March 25, 2013

Revenge of the Naked Princes by Oswald Pereira - A Review

Just when you thought its over, the best deal, it is not! It leaves you craving for more, by giving you thrill, adventure, blood-curdling details and by closing at a point you least expected. These were my first thoughts as soon as I shut the book, and raced into my blogger account to type out this review.

Author and veteran journalist Oswald Pereira had already entered my list of favorites with his debut novel - The Newsroom Mafia, published in late 2011, which I had the amazing fortune of reading and reviewing. I was bowled over by the author's prowess at story-telling and engaging his audience. What Mr. Pereira has done with his second book - The Revenge of the Naked Princess - is that he has concretized and validated his position on my list of authors to reckon with, or to look forward to. Why am I more impressed this time is because while the earlier novel's premise drew from his field of expertise - journalism - this book's plot is one which focusses on his creative imagination and dedicated research to churn up story which is haunting, and extremely engaging.

Revenge of the Naked Princess is a period thriller, set in the 16th century, around the time when Christian missionaries had begun coming to India to pursue their goal of adding numbers to Christ's kingdom. Drawing from this premise, the novel sketches the story of the tribe of Yehoorwada, which was subjected to the brutal madness of conversions by a Portuguese mission led by Brigadier Braganca and his ecclesiastical partner, Father Francisco. Together, in the name of Christ, they unleashed on the locals a reign of indescribable cruelties, combining acts of physical, psychological and sexual violence to make them toe the holy line. The tribals of Yehoorwada were fighters, led by their able and fiery princess, Darshana Kamya Kathodi, a skilled archer, who is subjected to the worst kind of humiliation at hand hands of Braganca and his men - she is stripped and raped till she dies, and her wounded spirit ascends to heaven only to return one day in her macabre form to wreck revenge on all those who brutalized her community, her body, and her soul. What unfolds then is a tale of fury, of corruption, of hypocrisy, of exploitation and of fantastic adventures which make this book an absolute page-turner.

The book begins with action - hooking on a reader from the word go. Then falls the great onus on a writer of sustaining his audience's interest as the story progresses. This is an area in which Oswald Pereira does not disappoint, because with every new chapter you start, the story just keeps getting better. The tale makes you writhe in anger at the kind of atrocities which in the name of religion are perpetrated on indigenous tribes, not sparing even women and children. While most of the novel is full of gory details of conversion rituals, and the exploitative culture which is established by the so-called devout Christians, the book also does have its amusing moments, captured in the realm of fantasy, to which the novel travels during the latter half. That is the beauty of this work - it is where facts and history meet imagination and fantasy.

Mr. Pereira is excellent, yet again, at creating characters which persist in your imagination. Whether it is the two-faced Father Francisco, the ruthless Brigadier Braganca, of the traitor-convert Joseph Lawrence Pereira, all glow in their distinct characterization. And how can one ever forget the picture of naked protagonist, dark but radiant, coming back to seek her revenge, whose eyes are full of both, innocence and fury. By focussing on her nakedness, the author, I believe, has done his bit to make naked the ugliness which persists below the shiny veneers of religiosity. That religion is not something to be imposed from above or to be practised in rituals is a theme repeated in the novel time and again. It is something to be cherished and observed at the deepest level, for God resides not in external relics but in the observer's heart.

This book is a 3.5 star book for me. It has all the makings of a perfect read. Easy language. Short chapters. Lucid narration. Thrill inducing episodes. Extremely engaging plot. Freshness of concept. And so much more to discover when you actually pick it up from the stands. Strongly recommended!


  1. Reviewed very well.. I enjoyed the book quite much too..

  2. Oswald is an excellent story writer.His 2nd novel has a strong storyline and is perfectly portraying the events exposing organized brutality in the name of religion.Author is brave enough for choosing this subject.Must read Book.