Name of Book : The Silent Witness

Author : Anuradha

Publisher : Jaico Books

Price : Rs. 399 /-

Reviewer : Srivatsan V

Srivatsan is a banking and financial services professional. Books, sports and movies are his solace and detox. He is aspiring to be a writer and a knowledge entrepreneur.

~ Review ~

“The Silent Witness” penned by author Radha Narayana Menon under the pseudonym Anuradha is a historical fiction set in 17th century in Kerala where the Portuguese first set their foot to begin their colonial conquests in India. The Portuguese who first entered Calicut for trade begin terrorizing the locals and end up infuriating the Raja of Kochi who in turn tries to join hands with the native kings (during those times, there was no Kerala state but the princely provinces) including his ex rivals to overthrow the Portuguese but in vain.

Amid the turmoil going on between the rulers of the princely states and the Portuguese, Veera Kerala Varma, one of the sons of Raja of Kochi, goes into exile and falls in love with the niece of an ally of the Portuguese. Meanwhile, the Dutch too looks to invade Kochi and overthrow the Portuguese. The silent witness are the people of Kochi who remain a mute unfortunate witness to the colonial invasions happening in their land, helplessly.

The story gives an insight about the way the princely states during those days were ruled. It also shows the deceitful tactics deployed by the Portuguese to seize power in the coastal areas among the Arabic Ocean. The Portuguese rule in India is infamously known for the religious intolerance, lawlessness, deceit and many social evils.

In her earlier book “The Saga of Black Gold”, Anuradha had described aptly the Portuguese landing in Malabar in 15th century with an intention to carry on trade. In this book, she describes in detail, the colonial conquests in Kerala which was started by the Portuguese who came to trade in Kerala initially but later seized power by deceit and covert means and were subsequently replaced by the Dutch invaders. The narration is done in a simple style and the author has done a good research to describe the princely rulers of those days as well as about the Portuguese conquerors.

The story is beautifully weaved through multiple characters amid colonial conquests, saga of deceit, treachery, love and relationships and the narration is done is simple English with a good in-depth research on history. The book is a must read for lovers of history as well as for those who have interests in South India from where the colonial conquests by the Europeans had started initially. The illustrations in the book at appropriate junctions by Artist Namboodiri are very good.

The cover of the book shows a painting of the Portuguese entering Calicut (Kochi) from the seas for the purpose of trade and getting welcomed by the local people there. Go and grab the book. It is an enjoyable and an entertaining read.

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