The book begins with the first night of Yudhistra and Draupadi. Munshi is a master story teller and he chooses the appropriate setting to bring about Yudhistra’s only flaw before his audience; his passion for the game of dice.
Draupadi’s decision to live with each brother as his true wife for one year each is communicated to all the brothers and admittedly Arjuna is not happy about it. The dialogue that follows here between Krishna and Arjuna brings forth the implications of such a complicated marriage. Arjuna’s casual dismissal about Draupadi’s plight in such a situation made me pity her more.
Where Arjuna sulks, Bhima is more vociferous about his desire for Draupadi. He makes fun of her, ridicules her yet at his heart of hearts, he loves her in his own boisterous way. But he doesn’t pine away for her instead he goes on and falls in love with Princess Jalandhara, who is Bhanumathi’s sister and Duryodhana’s sister-in-law. A veritable ball of energy, he tries to arrange things just as he wants, so that they have a triumphant victorious entry into Hastinapura.
Political intrigues and cruel intentions raise their head once again in Hastinapura where, Dhristrashtra is forced to welcome the Five Brothers. Amidst speculation about the next heir, Bhima is resolved to see his eldest crowned as the King.
Princess Bhanumathi’s pregnancy and her resultant death make a very poignant read. Krishna’s role is muted in this book because Bhima dominates the space. It is all about his dreams, frustrations and the kingdom that he wants to build for his brother to rule.
Yudhistra yet again bows down to King Dhristrashtra’s decision to split the kingdom into two but what would have been an exile in disguise becomes an honest and fair decision due to Krishna’s interference.
The book ends with Krishna going back to Dwaraka and inviting Arjuna there for a visit.