The book, “Empire” (Juggernaut Books, 2017) is a historical fiction, taking you back to the 11th century, when the reign of the glorious Chola Dynasty was at its peak. It portrays the Cholas’ clout and cultural bounty. Not much has been written about the female warriors of this time in historical novels but author Devi Yesodharan gives wings to our imagination with a powerful female protagonist.
The story begins with the Greeks losing to the Cholas as they attempt to annex the city of Nagapattinam. The price they pay for the loss is an 11-year-old girl named Aremis. Little does Anantha, the Chola commander, know that she would decide his kingdom’s fate one day.
Aremis trains in Nagapattinam and attains exceptional skills in archery. She is trained to polish her wits along with building her muscle strength. However, being the only female fighter who looks like an exotic outsider she remains an outcast amongst the city locals and her fellow students. Her identity crisis deepens when she is handed a prophecy that pronounces her to be the warrior who will bring salvation to the kingdom.
She is later anointed as King Rajendra’s protector, and her stealth and clever moves attains her the status of the king’s ‘dark warrior’.
However, when she commits a grave crime of killing Kara, a court chieftain in the process of protecting her friend, Anantha, she is banished from the court. Later she bounces back and proves her indispensability in the battle between the Cholas and the Srivijayans.
Empire’s fast-paced plot is gripping as the reader devours the pages to find out the brave Aremis’ fate. For a generation inspired by strong, relentless female leads, from DC’s Wonder Woman to Amish’s Sita, the story of Aremis is one to be remembered and relished. The book is one where the Bahubali universe meets Wonder Woman.