A fast-paced historical fantasy thriller, The Sword with the Ruby Hilt is set during the time of the Kakatiya empire.

The Sword with the Ruby Hilt by Mridula Govindraju
The Sword with the Ruby Hilt by Mridula Govindraju

Author: Mridula Govindraju

Publisher: Mridula Govindraju (2017)

Language: English

Pages: 457

Country: India

Rating: 3.5/5

The Sword with the Ruby Hilt was kind of a mixed bag. I chose to read this novel because its premise looked interesting. The story is set in the 12th century when the Kakatiya dynasty was ruling over a large part of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This era is not explored by quite a lot of authors so I wanted to give this novel a try.

The capital of the Kakatiya empire was Ekshila which is the present-day Warangal and this is were the action takes place. Two men are murdered in the sanctum of a Shiva temple on Mahashivratri. The reader might think this a murder mystery but it’s only a minuscule part of the grand scheme of things. The Sword with the Ruby Hilt focuses on King Rudradeva or Rudramma Devi. She was a princess and daughter of King Ganpatideva. Her father raised her as a son and named her Rudradev. She was his heir and became king after him. So as we read further in the novel, King Rudradev’s life is under threat. The investigations unveil a chain of events where forces beyond human control unleash their savagery. Rudradeva hides a dark secret which now threatens her life and the very existence of the Empire. Only the Sword With The Ruby Hilt can save them.

There are far too many characters in this historical fantasy thriller and at times it feels like everybody wants to kill the king. Is it because of an old rivalry, or a broken relationship or has it something to do with the King’s policies or is it just power play? The problem with too many sub-plots is that the author cannot do justice to all of them. That’s what has happened with The Sword with the Ruby Hilt. The focus is not equally divided on the numerous characters and their backstories and while reading it feels that something is missing.

What I liked about The Sword with the Ruby Hilt was how the author has recreated the Kakatiya period. Her descriptions of the places and events show how impeccable her research is. Her story-telling is interesting and she knows how to bring the characters alive. There are a lot of questions which come to mind while reading this novel. However, the answers remain elusive till the end. My only complaint about the novel is it’s ending. The plot is fast-paced and very tight but the ending was very abrupt. There was no proper conclusion, no winding up of all the mysteries in the book. There was no mention of a sequel but I am assuming there is one in the pipeline. Even if there is a sequel it makes sense to have a logical ending.

The Sword with The Ruby Hilt would have been an exciting debut but for the ending. It left me feeling incomplete and it’s not a feeling I want to experience when I finish reading a good book.