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“Krishna Deva Raya: The Crown of Vijayanagara”: This novel is a riveting exposition of war strategy, games of power and the politics of the royal court

A portrait of Krishna Deva Raya by Portuguese traveller Domingo Paes
  • The book “Krishna Deva Raya: The Crown of Vijayanagara” by Abhijeeth Hiliyana is the second book in the Vijayanagara trilogy.

  • The newly coronated Emperor Krishna Deva Raya leads his steadfast armies on a mission to capture impregnable fortresses and avenge his father’s gruesome death. But deep in the underbelly of the palace, a seditious undertaking is afoot, while at the city’s borders disbanded enemy kingdoms are uniting under a vengeful Shahi sultan determined to usurp Krishna’s throne.

  • Will Krishna, the statesman, prove to be as proficient as Krishna, the soldier? As his inner coterie of advisers stands divided at every turn, will Krishna be able to secure the future of his empire?

  • Read an excerpt from the book below.

Krishna was still surrounded by his bodyguards, who fought fiercely to fend off enemy horsemen, but he knew that it was sheer luck that he had not yet been injured and the problem with luck was that it could turn at any moment. As Krishna watched, a pair of gigantic Abyssinian riders, smashed into his bodyguards. Shivarama was thrown off his horse as one of the riders punched him in the chest. Before the attacker could take a stab at Krishna, Jayasimha threw himself at the man knocking him off his horse, and they both fell to the ground. The second rider swung his sword effortlessly, killing another of Krishna’s bodyguards. His eyes locked on Krishna, as if taking note of the men protecting him and realizing that Krishna was probably an important officer. He charged at Krishna and their horses collided. Krishna fell off his horse, seeing which the enemy rider quickly dismounted and pounced on him. With each blow they traded, Krishna felt a shock reverberate through his arms. The man’s strength was impressive.

‘Come on, attack me like you mean it, bastard,’ Krishna said. The man roared. He held his shield at chest level and took a step back, preparing to charge at Krishna. Just then one of Krishna’s bodyguards launched himself at the man, wrestling him to the ground. As the two men wrestled, the Abyssinian gripped his opponent’s neck, squeezing the life out of him. But Krishna swung his sword in time, separating the enemy’s head from his shoulder, and saved him. Krishna tried to comfort the boy, but the boy remained terrified. Behind them an enemy horseman had his sword raised high, aiming it at Krishna’s head. Krishna tried to block it, but as his sword moved to intercept the enemy’s attack he instinctively knew he had not been fast enough and as the sword descended upon him he could only think of his wives and children and his promise to return to them.

Just as Krishna shut his eyes, anticipating a death blow, a spear struck the horseman straight in his chest, launching him out of his saddle. Krishna may prone on the ground, stunned. Then, slowly, he turned to regard his saviour and was greeted by the sight of a trio of young riders who looked very familiar to him.

‘You are Aravidu Bukka’s grandsons,’ he said slowly as he sat up, and they gave him a respectful bow.

‘Mahaprabhu, please mount my horse,’ one of them told him.

‘I…’ Krishna was about to reply when Jayasimha and Shivarama arrived at the scene, along with more of his bodyguards.

‘The Abyssinian?’ Krishna asked.

‘We killed the bastard,’ Shivarama declared. Krishna was annoyed at his usual, casual swearing but gave a sigh. There was little that he could change about Shivarama.

‘My horse?’ he asked.

‘He is a bit bruised but otherwise okay. Odeya,’ Shivarama said as a soldier led Krishna’s horse to him. Krishna mounted his horse and noticed that here and there, a few stubborn enemy soldiers were trying to put forth some resistance but, for the most part, they were only interested in fleeing. Then Krishna noticed that Quli Qutb Shah too had fled.

‘Ramalinga Nayadu attacked the enemy left from the rear as per the plan?’ he asked.

‘Quli Qutb Shah fled as soon as his eyes fell on Ramalinga Nayudu’s forces. The Senapathi, rather than follow the fleeing enemy, attacked their soldiers who were still fighting Mantri Timmarasu’s forces. They too are broken,’ Jayasimha told him.

‘It’s over, Mahaprabhu. Victory is yours,’ Aravidu Bukka’s eldest grandson Ramaraya declared.

His comment brought on loud cheering from everyone. Krishna raised his hand for silence.

‘This is not over. Send a message to Appaji. He is to follow Quli Qutb Shah. I want his surrender. Send Ramalinga Nayadu and Kondamarasa after Muhammad Shah Lashkari and Qasim Barid. I will go after Yusuf Adil Shah myself. Each of us will take on one-third of the army,’ Krishna said.

He looked at Ramaraya and added, ‘You saved my life. What do you desire?’

‘Mahaprabhu, please let us accompany you for the rest of the campaign,’ Ramaraya said.

Krishna smiled. ‘Very well, you will ride by my side as I punish Yusuf Adil Shah for his impudence. Come, we must not let him run far, otherwise he will take refuge in his capital and I do not wish to spend several months besieging Bijapur. We will rest for half a day and no more, then we will go after Yusuf Adil Shah.’

Though they were tired from battle, Krishna knew not a single soldier would choose to stay behind. They had achieved a great victory today, but he was offering them more and he knew they would take it, because, like him, they would no longer be satisfied with winning a mere battle. No, they too wanted to make the Samrajya the paramount nation of the Deccan so that every one of their enemies would be powerless against them.

Excerpted with permission from Krishna Deva Raya: The Crown of Vijayanagara, Abhijeeth Hiliyana, Hachette India. Read more about the book here and buy it here.


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