After mixing contemporary issues with history and mythology in more than a handful of novels in his Bharata Series, author Ashwin Sanghi has become a master at that. He has continued the same with his latest offering The Vault Of Vishnu. And once again, the story he has told is way different than any of his previous books.
This time, the author has focused on the troubled political relationship between India and China. It starts off with a group of Indian soldiers mercilessly killed by the Chinese forces in Doklam. But what’s odd in the killings is that the Chinese forces appear like a mixture of humans and monkeys.
Paramjit Khurana aka Pam of the DRDO (Defence Research and Developmental Organization) is given the task to find more about the killings to help India’s defence personnel. She has a troubled past. Her father, who passionately served in the Indian defence forces, got killed under mysterious circumstances when she was a child.
Pam takes the help of the veteran intelligence officer Mark whose company works jointly with the DRDO. She had had a past with him, about which she is not proud.
Simultaneously, The Vault Of Vishnu also traces the centuries old journey of a Chinese Buddhist monk to India in search of something extremely valuable.
The Vault Of Vishnu is also about the ex-defence officer Dr Raja Rao, who is in his 90s, and his daughter Anu.
The synopsis might indicate that the book is a fast-paced action thriller but it’s not. Of course, it tells the story of India’s border issues with China. But it uses a nuanced storytelling method with attention to details.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not a page-turner. Sanghi, in his usual manner, has narrated an interesting tale in his usual gripping manner by giving proper space to every sub-plot. Those who are used to reading the author’s books will find the narrative extremely friendly.
Although the parallel story of the Chinese monk’s travel is way different than the present day tale about Pam, it doesn’t appear that way. This part also generates interest as you get absorbed in the monk’s journey. It is only in some parts in the pre-climax that it appears a bit stretched, especially the inclusion of too much of information about the monk’s travel.
This part of the story gets you spellbound by Sanghi’s vast knowledge about history and mythology and his enormous research skills, which includes even the smallest of details.
The author’s rich language not only explains the tale in a simple manner but it also gets you hooked. This is also something Sanghi is used to doing.
A large part of your satisfaction with The Vault Of Vishnu comes with a major twist in the end that you didn’t see coming. Although it appears filmi, it still gives you a pleasant jolt.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review by: Keyur Seta
Publishers: Westlands Books