‘The Legend of Lachit Borphukan’, is the story of a forgotten hero. It is a story of valour during events that transpired so far back that not just the people of India but even the land has possibly forgotten them. They would have remained forgotten had they not been written and brought to life by Nilutpal Gohain.
In the book, he has not just laid bare his prowess as an author but has also introduced us to the rich history that germinates from the ancient land of Assam. Even though I am a history buff with a particular interest in folklore, legends and such; I knew precious little about the social hierarchy that has led to the origins of the surnames of Assamese people. For me, that was a revelation. Reading this book is like taking a dip in the waters of the past. This book immerses people in history to give them perspective about the heritage, the history and the people of Assam.
The introduction to Lachit Borphukan comes late into the book, almost after reading 3/4th of the book. But, that is not an oversight by the author. It is an intentional ploy because the preceding chapters are essential to introducing the reader to the Ahom dynasty, its internal conflicts and losses on account of the invasion of the Mughals. So, if you are looking for a fast-paced book packed with thrill (the aspects are there) then I implore you to be patient when you start reading the book because what you may consider boring is actually vital history that will set the tone for the events that transpire later on in the book. If you skip though the initial chapters chasing thrills, you will miss all the links that the author has worked so hard to integrate into the book.
The story in the book is backed by in-depth research and for that, I must congratulate the author. I believe that it is not easy to write historical fiction because the author needs to be conscious of not distorting the history for the readers. Presenting dates and facts in their truest form is a responsibility for any writer of historical fiction and in that I did not find this book lacking in its research or its treatment of history. I applaud the author for this. Thank you, for not taking unnecessary liberties in the name of creative freedom.
The character of Lachit Borphukan is well etched and the plot line has been kept taut and focused to lead up to the battle of Saraighat. The language is simple and the narrative flows well. There is no unnecessary emphasis on metaphors or poetic prose to detract from this re-telling of history (albeit in a fictional manner). This is a book about a great hero and the battle which cemented his reputation. That is what the book title suggests and that is exactly what the book delivers. This is the story of a forgotten hero, a son of the soil you fought for his land and people.
I must thank Niluptal Gohain for bringing the story of Lachit Borphukan to light. He was truly a legendary commander of the Ahom army and had it not been for Nilutpal’s book (soon to be adapted into a motion picture), the story of this brave-heart would have remained a local folk legend.
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