Ponniyin Selvan, written by Kalki Krishnamurthy, is a historical novel set in the time period between the tenth and the eleventh centuries AD. A story that revolves around the Chozha Emperor, Arulmozhi Verman, who was later crowned as Raja Raja Chozhan I, the story has all the ingredients of a political drama, including espionage, vendetta, and patronage. Kalki masterfully weaves a few love stories into the mix, as well. The other protagonists – the brave Vallatharasan Vandhiyathevan and his antics to get out of trouble, the Veera Vaishnavar Alwarkadiyan Nambi, Princess Kundavari, her close aide (and Princess of Kodumbalur) Vanathi, the Chief Minister, Aniruddha Brahmarayar, the fiery Parthibendra Pallavan, close confidante and friend of the elder brother, Aditya Karikalan – all make the novel gripping.
I have a few grudges against the original novel. There are many, who started to read this book, and slammed the book down after the first chapter. The main reason most people attribute to this behavior, is the detailed descriptions of the scenes by Kalki. While the inherent plot in the story is an extremely fast paced drama, the excitement gets deflated (for some) while reading the excruciating details of the scenes. The main theme behind this retelling is to focus on the plot.
This retelling is in English. Several of us did not study Tamizh in detail when in school. Hence, reading a tome split into 5 volumes and 2400 pages was out of the question.
I also want to mention here, that this is not an exact translation of the work by Kalki Krishnamurthy. As the title says, it is a retelling. I have taken considerable effort to make this more easily readable than the original tome. Let me not stay between you and this book any longer.
Start with Book 1 Chapter 1 – Veeranarayana Lake – here.
Start with Book 2 Chapter 1 – Poonkuzhali – here.
Vetri Vel ! Veera Vel !