Akbar and the Tricky Traitor



Akbar and the Tricky Traitor

By : Arefa Tehsin  /  2014

Akbar and the Tricky Traitor

Akbar and the Tricky Traitor
Natasha Sharma
Vandana Bist
72 pages
Rs 175.00
ISBN: 978-93-83331-11-6
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When we talk about the greatest kings of the subcontinent, Akbar and Ashoka are the first names to surface. The second book by Natasha Sharma in the History Mystery Series is, expectedly, on the other great king – Akbar. Compared to Ashoka and the Muddled Messages of the same series, this is a much breezier read.

The story begins with a hook: Emperor Akbar is fuming. Someone’s leaking his most personal secrets like his newly invented travelling bathroom to the neighboring King Adbhut, who’s sniggering away to glory! The Super Six, who’re actually five in number, are Akbar’s secret service agents. They’re called to handle the unspeakable calamity of Akbar becoming the laughing stock of Adbhut. Hilarity ensues as the Five Super Sixers carry on their mission of finding the insider who is leaking Akbar’s secrets like that of his persistent indigestion.

The author has deftly woven the facts about the Mughal emperor and his reign starting from explaining the various titles like Mir Bakawal, Mir Saman and so on at the very onset. She then puts in facts like Akbar being a master trainer of hunting cheetahs as the detective story progresses. The hunting scene is also described quite well. The story, which snakes its way through the foolish Super Six’s investigations, captures the mood of the royal era.

The language is simple and suitable for younger readers. The story moves at a good pace and takes you right into the scene with its descriptions of sounds and other details. The skill of the author along with the familiarity factor with Akbar and his times doesn’t make the information forced.

The black and white sketches of the book match the humorous tinge of the story, for instance in the one where the smug five Super Six are introduced. One can spend some time enjoying the details and expressions in the illustrations where a flustered Akbar is talking to his prisoners or singing to his courtiers. There are more meticulous ones like the performance near Anup Talaab or Sajida dancing to Albela’s music.

Although usage of words like kamzor, kanjoor, bewakoof add up to the funny tone of the story, they might confuse non-Hindi speaking children. The use of italics can come in handy here.

As in Ashoka, the Fact or Fiction section at the end of the book does have some juicy bits of information to chew on.

The history that we read and retained as we grew up was mainly through Amar Chitra Katha. Thankfully, today’s children have wider options like the History Mystery series.

Arefa Tehsin is a Columnist and Hon. Wildlife Warden of Udaipur district, Arefa is the co-author of Tales from the Wild. Her upcoming titles include fantasy novel Iora and the Quest of Five and fiction, non-fiction and picture books.



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