Best-selling author and the Director of the Nehru Centre in London, Amish Tripathi, has just released his new book of fiction titled Legend of Suheldev: The King Who Saved India.
Here the author, known for his books like the Shiva Trilogy, shares an exclusive excerpt with iGlobal, which is reflective of the epic adventure and inspiring legend of the warrior-hero king who united Indians across religions, castes, and regions and mounted a fierce resistance against foreign invaders.
An epic adventure and an inspiring tale of unity, the message of King Suheldev echoes across the chasm of time: when we Indians are united, we are unbeatable,'says Tripathi, who is also?Minister (Culture) at the Indian High Commission in the UK.
Legend of Suheldev: The King Who Saved India An Excerpt?
Suheldev knew that the situation was tough. He did not have all his men. They had managed to prevail over one small Turkic raiding party because of the element of surprise. But this was different.
We cannot outrun them. Sooner or later, our horses will get exhausted. Once they catch up with us, it will all be over. We are hopelessly outnumbered.
The wind rushed through Suheldev's hair as he urged on his galloping horse, keeping his head and body in a low crouch. The rest of the group raced along with him.
Behind them, the beams of light were not getting any closer, but they were not fading away either. The Turkic cavalry was maintaining the gap.
Suheldev's life, and the lives of all those who followed him, were hanging by a slender thread.
His eyes swivelled towards Abdul, who was leading the group. One of Abdul's special skills was that once he travelled across a path, he never forgot it. As Suheldev's most trusted scout, he had often conducted recces of various terrains and knew them like the back of his hand. Suheldev was counting on that knowledge to help make their escape.
Suddenly, Abdul stopped. Like many others in the band, he was carrying a torch. Now, he raised it and waved it around, signalling to the others.
This way? Follow this way, yelled Abdul. Double file. Stay close!?
The others reined in their horses and followed side by side. The Turks began to close the distance between them.
Suheldev gritted his teeth, fighting down the panic that threatened to overwhelm him. The words of his teacher came flooding back.
Panic is useless. It serves no purpose. Calm down. Breathe.
Suheldev breathed deeply. Slowly.
Forcing the pace of his heart down.
He looked to the side. Even in the faint moonlight, he could make out that there was a long field of sugarcane, stretching a considerable distance downriver.
Suddenly, an idea hit him.
How far to the river? asked Suheldev.
Barely two hundred metres from here, said Abdul. Listen, you can hear it flowing.
Suheldev cocked his ears and then smiled. Yes? good. Now, take everybody to the river and get them across. Take Toshani as well. Leave ten fighters with me.
Toshani spoke up immediately. I?ll stay. I can be one of the ten.
Suheldev glared at her. There's no time to argue.
Then don t argue, she retorted. I?m probably the best archer here. You know it.
Suheldev opened his mouth to dispute this, then decided against it. Fine.
He quickly rattled off the names of the people he wanted left behind, including Aslan and Govardhan.
Keep torches with you, he told them. Then he nodded to Abdul. Go now. Lord Shiva willing, we?ll meet again at our usual hideout.
Abdul clasped Suheldev's hand briefly but fiercely. Allah be with you, My Lord, he said. Then he raced off.
Suheldev turned towards the warriors left with him. Set fire to the sugarcane.
Aslan and Govardhan exchanged puzzled looks but followed the order. As did the others. Suheldev himself took a torch and held it to a tall stalk. The flame caught, then began flickering, as if about to go out.
Come on, come on, muttered Suheldev.
As if heeding him, the fire suddenly leapt up, enveloping the whole stalk. A generous gust of wind blew suddenly, fanning the fire further. It soared from stalk to stalk, racing across the field. Suheldev grunted with satisfaction.
Thank you, great Mahadev, he whispered, wiping the sweat from his forehead.