Synopsis

'Here Mr Murari who brought to life Rudyard Kipling’s Kim in The Imperial Agent, continues the theme and Kimbal O’Hara once more dances across the pages. It’s a real treat. A fine novel that looks without too much old fashioned guilt, yet with a searching eye, at (Britain's) long, vivid time in India.'-MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS
-this is a work of impressive fiction which mixes the charms of an Eastern legend with the weight of historical account. Conflicts of conscience litter the narrative – empire versus nationalism, peace against violence, pragmatism against spirituality. Murari writes with an obvious love of his country – and humanity. –BIRMINGHAM POST.
Both these books (The Imperial Agent & The Last Victory) are highly readable, yet offer intellectual depth, commendable additions to Indian literature… and the book beats its wings over great events and great figures. THE INDEPENDENT.
A reassuring linear narrative, larger-than-life characters and an assured style make the book a great read. It's not difficult to understand why this author's popularity has endured over the decades, despite changing literary tastes. THE HINDU.
The book is a huge success if viewed as a somewhat fictionalised account of India in the 1910s. It captures the flavour of the times, as it does the complex issue of nascent demands for Independence and the doubts surrounding that notion. It, therefore, has much to recommend itself, especially to the current generation who have little time to ponder our past. DECCAN CHRONICLE.
HIGH VOLTAGE DRAMA
Exploring this novel is somewhat like opening a carefully preserved album of beautiful images and wondering if they'll survive the harsh light of scrutiny. Any work of fiction that dares to toy with the historical past risks courting that danger. And the final days of the Raj, in particular — the subject of The Last Victory— has inspired so many memorable tomes that yet another novel, which gives it pride of place would, one imagines, invite more intense critical attention than most.
But Timeri N. Murari's grand Raj production (for that is how this sequel to The Imperial Agent comes across) will probably get away unscathed. Its meticulously researched historical backdrop notwithstanding, the book adroitly escapes being judged by the criteria that would apply to a historical novel. The thoroughness of this research is evident as the author weaves his suspense-charged fictional episodes around real-life events — among them, World War I and the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre — and smoothly incorporates personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru into his narrative, making them come alive in imagined sequences, even if there is a tendency towards stereotyping in the delineation of such characters as General Reginald Dyer of Jallianwallah Bagh notoriety who vows to “teach the bloody wogs a lesson they'll never forget”.
Another India
Murari's most inspired writing comes, however, from his portrait of another India, the one that happily accommodates demons and double agents, patriot-terrorists turned “ sanyasis” and brigands who rule the Chambal's ravines, island palaces and temples to the snake god, hired assassins lurking in the shadows and zamindars who conspire from their thrones of ivory “the colour of fading sunlight”, evil spells and local superstitions and, of course, those rare and wondrous beings, Bala and Bala, blind twins with the power to transform people and places through their magical songs so that they are never again the same.
In other words, oodles of exotica that lend the story the innocent charm of a fairy tale, while playing quite unabashedly on the old Western fixation — perpetuated partly by Hollywood — with the Orient's supposedly unfathomable mystique.
Appropriately enough, the hero is an “Angrezi” born, but Indian “by love and thought”. Resurrected from Kim, Rudyard Kipling's creation, Kimball O'Hara is “a friend of the world”, brave, honourable and compassionate, with an embarrassing resemblance to the yesteryear Hollywood heroes some of us had massive crushes on long, long ago and now condescend to remember with a self-deprecating smile.
It's inevitable that Murari's Kim, who takes up from where he had left off in The Imperial Agent, should be required in this novel to elude assassins, battle dacoits, fight superstition, exorcise demons and stand up to his former mentor, Colonel Creighton, who swears by Rule Britannia and would, if necessary, betray his own protégé to safeguard the interests of the Empire.
It's no surprise either that Kim's love interest should be the beautiful Mohini/ Parvati, the original damsel in distress who can, when required, be bold enough to engage in anti-colonial activities, flee a brutal husband, love a man from another race (even if her romantic interludes with him are frustratingly chaste), bear him a child out of wedlock and ultimately carry out an act we wouldn't have dreamed her capable of, so weepy and whisper-soft has her creator rendered her, the perfect prototype, it would seem, of the demure Oriental maiden with great hidden potential.
Rich gallery
Add Murari's rich gallery of cameos and red-hot action sequences interspersed with lyrical passages and you have a potent, if quaint, cocktail of entertainment. It's not difficult to understand why this author's popularity has endured over the decades, despite changing literary tastes. Murari can remain secure in the knowledge that The Last Victory offers much, including some great celluloid moments that will lure us into a willing suspension of disbelief so that going with the flow follows naturally.
Despite the faint whiff of mothballs, there's much to be said, after all, for a reassuringly linear narrative, larger-than-life characters, a generous slice of realism, high-voltage drama and an assured prose style that adapts itself easily to the demands of the context and is as invigorating as a breath of fresh air.THE HINDU

The Last Victory is a bold attempt to weave history and characters from another great novel to create new fiction. The author adopts characters from Rudyard Kipling’s Kim to spin out a new story about the troubled times of the 1910s and the diverse characters of those times. It is a tremendous undertaking and while the author does not fail to entertain, he does stumble on a few counts.
The first hundred pages are a bit of a plod as the author painstakingly, and without much economy, unveils the novel’s principal characters and the complex setting of India. The initial action is sporadic and somewhat gratuitous. Thereafter, the pace picks up as the intrigues multiply and the plot thickens.
The book is a good read but cannot be considered a great novel. For it is not so much a historical novel as it is a work of history couched as literature. The book’s protagonists appear to be marionettes tugged more by the strings of history than by any powerful internal dynamic. The blend of history and fiction is certainly masterful but the characters cannot seem to rise above the weight of facts. The book’s hero, Kim — the same Kimball O’Hara of Kipling’s famous novel — is a shadow of his former self. In Kipling’s novel, Kim is a larger than life figure torn between following his guru, the Teshoo Lama, and the dictates of the manipulative Colonel Creighton, who harps on Kim’s English blood and duty to the Empire. Here he is reduced to a peripatetic fugitive conflicted between his love for India and his British masters.
The novel is crammed with characters who contribute much towards illustrating the complex historical processes at work in India during that period, but who eventually detract from the central story line. Kim’s odyssey becomes just one of the many personal journeys and his main realisation towards the end of the book seems to be that he has only been used and not loved by his mentor, the devious Colonel Creighton. Kim, though of a heroic mould, does not undergo a huge transformation in these pages. Nor do most others. They remain the stereotypes they were originally depicted as. Only one character, the revolutionary assassin, Anil Ray, undergoes a conversion and ends up becoming a saint at Pondicherry. The character arcs are clearly not dramatic.
Where the book excels is in its portrayal of India during the decade of the 1910s. The story meanders between major events of that period, touching upon the Great War and ending at the time of the proclamation of the infamous Rowlatt Act of 1919, which led to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The author manages to weave in historical characters into his novel with great dexterity. Thus, Jawaharlal Nehru makes an appearance as do Gandhi, General Dyer (of Jallianwala Bagh notoriety), a couple of viceroys and lesser personalities.
The author’s portrayal of these historical characters is simply marvellous. The prematurely balding Jawaharlal Nehru with his Harrowian accent and dreamy air is more real in the pages of this novel than in a countless dreary history books. The portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi and the principal British figures of that time are equally well crafted. One significant strain in the book is the repudiation of extreme positions. Kim’s worldview is inclusive. He argues that even the British have a legitimate place in the order of things: “You can’t unravel one thread and put it out of the weave. You’d destroy the fabric, destroy India. This is a part of India, as much as the Mughal past, the Afghan, the Turkish. You may resent their rule but cannot deny their place in Indian history”.
Kim, at one point also senses the logic in Gandhi’s politics. In India, Gandhi explains, “We are taking different nations, different peoples with different languages and customs and trying to install in them a sense of a nation called India... It will not be easy... Each and every Indian must feel he has much to gain from freedom, socially, politically and economically. That is the task that lies ahead of us”. Gandhi, therefore, is in no hurry to wrest Independence from the British.
In the end, it is the British, haunted by the experience of 1857, who resort to extremism. Instead of rewarding the Indians for their support during World War I, the rising demand for greater liberties is viewed as a dangerous threat. The result is the Rowlatt Act that imposes severe curbs on liberties and allows for arbitrary arrests and other repressive acts. The subsequent savagery exhibited by the British forever destroys their moral superiority on which Indian acquiescence was based. The British crackdown on Indians is therefore their last victory.
The book is a huge success if viewed as a somewhat fictionalised account of India in the 1910s. It captures the flavour of the times, as it does the complex issue of nascent demands for Independence and the doubts surrounding that notion. It, therefore, has much to recommend itself, especially to the current generation who have little time to ponder our past. DECCAN CHRONICLE.

This is the well written and engaging story of Kim, Parvati, the Colonel, unusually named characters like Vancouver Sing, Isaac Newton and a milieu of others. Many plots, many characters and many emotions define this tapestry.
Kim, the protagonist of this book, as I learned from research is inspired by the boisterous character Kimball o’ Hara created by Rudyard Kipling. In the course of the book we see Kim evolve from a bit of a reckless spirit to a matured man who knows fears, knows that disappointments are as much a part of life as victory. It is predominantly his exploits that we follow in the course of the story. The story begins with his escape from the clutches of his lover’s husband, with his lover Parvati on tow. She is sick and he has to save her.

Throughout the narrative Kim’s relationship with Parvati changes and grows into something more sublime than romantic. In fact, I thought the love of the flesh could have found a more prominent place in their relationship; after all, Kim is some sort of an outlaw and Parvati who ran away from her marital home and is portrayed as a brave and free spirited woman would have probably been attracted as much to Kim’s good Eurasian looks as to the pure strength of his character. The story concludes with the end of the journey that Kim begins and takes forward on several levels throughout.
Through a parallel narrative we learn of the Colonel’s loss and pain, we come to know that while he thinks he loves this land and is doing everything to protect it and improve the lot of its people, he is actually delusional in his thoughts. We come to know how his idealistic wife discarded him over India’s fate, his daughter ran off after a beautiful boy, a con star whose path crosses the Colonel’s again in the course of the narrative, his son died in action and his biggest asset Kim, the Indian European Imperial agent the Colonel hand-crafted discarded him over that which he though could never be the bone of contention, the nation of India and its fate.
We also follow the slow decline of Parvati’s rich but insecure, powerful but obsequious, lecherous but also a Milquetoast of a husband from a vindictive aristocratic to a slobbering, insane with jealousy, idiot. We come to know and admire the gutsy Alice, the chance patriot and legend convert Anil, his paramour Sushila, Newton, the admirable man in a iniquitous profession and the Bards Bala and Bala. This prompts me to comment on another aspect of this novel.
The Last Victory has elements of magic woven into a story that on the other hand narrates historical events like the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre and describes real life characters like Rishi Aurobindo , Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, though not necessary in the image popular history has lent to them. This aspect has been delved in details by many reviewers. Personally, I have found the authors take on these famous men engaging if unconventional. However, I have not been able to reconcile the supernatural elements to this otherwise well-defined story of India’s freedom struggle. Perhaps exposure to the first part of this book would have helped that cause.
On the whole, I will highly recommend The Last Victory to readers of serious fiction, especially those that have an affinity towards historical novels. By the time they turn the last page many of them would be wondering like me, if India’s Independence struggle is what we were taught it is....or is there perhaps more to the story that has been deliberately kept concealed? BUSINESS WORLD
-Both these books (The Imperial Agent & The Last Victory) are highly readable, yet offer intellectual depth, commendable additions to Indian literature. Murari’s latest books offer young Indians an opportunity to understand the inner conflicts of those who lived in an This sizeable novel describes the continuing adventures of Kimball O'Hara, the hero of Kipling's Kim resurrected by T N Murari in The Imperial Agent. In the background, there is the growing clamour for Indian independence, and the book beats its wings over great events and great figures. But Murari does not allow this to distract attention from the hearty story of Kim's romantic odyssey round the subcontinent. There is also an appropriate flirtation with demonology, adding to the mixture an exotic and intoxicating touch of the mystical. THE INDEPENDENT.
important but very uncertain period of Indian history. Similar kinds of tension are not far from the contemporary surface as India seeks to shape its ‘hi-tech’ future. Indians need to ‘feel’ their past in order to analyse how its contributes to, or detracts from – but inevitably significantly shapes – the future. JOHN STEMPLE
-Colorful characters, romance, intrigue, and vivid descriptions of India at the turn of the century are skillfully combined in this engrossing novel. LIBRARY JOURNAL.
Published: UK, US, Germany, Finland, Sweden.