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Agnikaal takes one see medieval India’s soul through Malik Kafur’s story

Ram Kumar Kaushik 

Yugal Joshi’s debut Hindi novel, Agnikaal published by Penguin, delves into the tumultuous era of medieval India, painting a vivid portrait of the protagonist Malik Kafur’s journey through the corridors of power and intrigue in the court of Ala-ud-din Khilji. Set against the backdrop of the Khilji dynasty, Joshi intricately weaves historical facts with fiction, offering readers a compelling narrative that captures the essence of the era.

Book Review

Born in a remote village in Uttarakhand, Yugal Joshi is a policymaker with a deep sense of language, storytelling, and historical contexts. He has studied at IIT, Delhi University, and the National University of Singapore. Yugal Joshi has published several books so far, prominent among which is Singapore Water Story which is translated into five languages. Agnikaal is his first novel in Hindi.

The heart of Agnikaal lies in the protagonist Malik Kafur, a character whose resilience and ambition propel him from humble beginnings to the echelons of power. Joshi masterfully portrays Kafur’s journey, from his early struggles to his eventual rise as a trusted deputy in Khilji’s court. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Manik, a Gujarati Hindu boy thrust into the tumultuous currents of the era, readers are transported to a time of political intrigue, betrayal, and conquest, where survival often hinges on one’s ability to navigate the treacherous currents of court politics.

At its core, Agnikaal is a story of transformation, tracing Manik’s evolution into Malik Kafur, a man consumed by ambition yet haunted by his inner demons. Joshi masterfully navigates the intricate web of historical events, from the bustling markets of Somnath to the corridors of power in Khilji’s court, capturing the essence of a bygone era with unparalleled authenticity

One of the standout features of Agnikaal is Joshi’s meticulous attention to historical accuracy. The novel is steeped in rich detail, offering readers a glimpse into the social, economic, and political landscape of medieval India. From the grandeur of Somnath to the bustling markets of Khamhāt, Joshi’s prose brings the era to life, immersing readers in a world brimming with vibrant characters and vivid settings.

Author Yugal Joshi

Agnikaal is more than just a historical novel – it is a testament to the power of storytelling to illuminate the darkest corners of the human soul. Through Manik’s struggles with his inner demons, Joshi invites the reader to confront the timeless question of what it means to be human in a world defined by power and ambition.Agnikaal is a story of human emotions -of love, betrayal, ambition, and redemption. Joshi deftly explores the complexities of the human psyche, portraying Kafur as a multifaceted character torn between his desires for power and his yearning for love and acceptance. As Kafur navigates the murky waters of court intrigue, readers are drawn into a whirlwind of emotions, rooting for the protagonist even as they grapple with the moral ambiguity of his actions.

Agnikaal seamlessly blends philosophy with real-world action, offering readers a thought-provoking exploration of existential themes. Through Kafur’s journey, Joshi invites readers to reflect on the nature of power, ambition, and the pursuit of destiny. As Kafur grapples with his inner demons and external adversaries, readers are prompted to examine their own realities, pondering the timeless questions of human existence.

What sets Agnikaal apart is its unflinching portrayal of the human experience amidst the backdrop of political upheaval. Through Manik’s encounters with a diverse array of characters – from palace princesses to lowly eunuchs – Joshi explores the complex interplay of love and lust, power and sacrifice, in a society teetering on the brink of collapse.

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Yugal Joshi’s debut Hindi novel is a testament to his impeccable research, masterful storytelling, and keen understanding of human nature. Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of gripping narratives, or simply someone in search of a thought-provoking read, Agnikaal is sure to captivate and enthrall. 

Ram Kumar Kaushik is a Delhi-based senior journalist

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