Finally, I laid my hands on the first in the History Mystery series written by Natasha Sharma. After reviewing Raja Raja and the Swapped Sacks, Ashoka and the Muddled Messages and Razia and the Pesky Presents in the series, I was curious to read the first one as well, so as to have the satisfaction of completing the series.
Akbar is upset. His enemy, King Adhbhut of the neighbouring kingdom was getting lots of private information about him. Akbar’s spies report that King Adhbhut was sneering and sniggering at the information, making not too polite comments. Akbar is enraged, that not only was some very secret information reaching Adhbhut’s ears, but he was also the butt of Adhbhut’s jokes. How can an emperor tolerate this?
Akbar summons his Super Six, a set of five clever men who spied for him. Their ultimate clever plan was to name themselves as Super Six to mislead anyone trying to spy on them. The emperor orders them to find the traitor.
The Super Six try several methods including following some of the important people in the court, but they only end up in jail. Meanwhile, Akbar is annoyed and irritated. The court musician Tansen’s disciple Albela was in charge of music, while Tansen himself has gone to visit his sick mother. Albela, inspite of Tansen’s advice starts playing his own compositions with discordant notes, thus annoying Akbar.
Meanwhile, there is one more message from a spy that Adhbhut is claiming that half of Akbar’s empire was employed in carrying water from Haridwar to satisfy Akbar’s taste.
Then comes another that he was laughing at Akbar’s indigestion.
In a fit of rage, Akbar orders a royal banquet so as to enable his spies to nail down the traitor.
Do the five men of the Super Six succeed? Who is the culprit? What punishment is doled out to him/her? Go, buy the book, and read it.
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- A neatly conceived plot with a clever way for the traitors to exchange messages. With the historical background, it makes the book a juicy read.
- Natasha has deftly woven facts into this fiction, and continued to do so in the other books. One can get a number of tidbits about Akbar’s period of time from this story. For instance, places like the Diwan-i-Aam and the Buland Darwaaza can still be seen in Fatehpur Sikri. People with titles like Mir Bakawal and Mir Shikaar.
- The idea of having five men as the Super six is indeed remarkable.
- Vandana Bist’s illustrations lend solid support to the humorous narration. In particular, I liked Akbar’s imagination of the tiger being offended on being offered Adhbhut, and the snigger on Akbar’s face.
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- I was pleasantly surprised to know that Akbar was an inventor who invented things like a travelling bath. Indeed, such facts give a different dimension to my imagination of the king.
- The second surprise was that he ate only one meal a day and the chefs had to be ever ready with numerous dishes for him. Honestly, how did he survive with one meal!
A copy of this book was given me by the publishers, Duckbill in return for an honest review. Thanks Duckbill.