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The Rozabal Line Paperback – September 24, 2007
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A provocative, clever and radiant line of theology, Sanghi suggests that the cult of Mary Magdalene has its inspiration in the trinity of the Indian sacred feminine, thereby out thinking and out-conspiring Dan Brown.'
--The Hindu, Chennai, India
'Sanghi's flair for religion, history and politics is clearly visible... a mixture of comparative religion, dangerous secrets and a thrilling plot makes for an esoteric read.' --The Statesman, Calcutta, India
'...a must-read for all those who enjoyed Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. A fine combination of history, religion, spirituality and mystery, the book is thought-provoking and definitely not for the faint-hearted.' --Deccan Herald, Bangalore, India
'Though Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code may still be the uncrowned king in conspiracy theory fiction, he has an Indian challenger in Ashwin Sanghi.' --The Week, India
'The ultimate reward that The Rozabal Line holds for the reader is the treasure-house of surprises that lie in store, as history gets presented ... as delightful, jaw-dropping trivia.' --Indian Express
From the Author
The notion that Jesus may have indeed spawned a bloodline came to my attention in late 1999 when I read "Holy Blood Holy Grail" by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. A few years later, I read Holger Kersten's "Jesus Lived in India" and was fascinated with the idea that Jesus could have been inspired by Buddhism and that he may have drawn much of his spiritual learning from India. The research was meticulous, and I was soon hooked! I followed it up by reading Margaret Starbird's "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail" and was convinced that the persona of Mary Magdalene closely resembled the trinity of the Indian sacred feminine. The release of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" was what eventually prompted me to write "The Rozabal Line".
I realized that it was much more interesting to learn history through the format of a fiction thriller than to read a non-fiction hypothesis/theory about Jesus having lived in India. "The Rozabal Line" is a work of fiction and should be read as such. Religion, history and factual narrative have been liberally interspersed with the fictional narrative in order to give context and color to the plot.
Unlike most novels, wherever possible, notes have been provided at the end of the book to explain, justify, attribute or acknowledge although it is unnecessary to read these as part of the overall plot.
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The Rozabal Line, an Indian version of Da Vinci Code, starts very well, and binds the reader for the first couple of chapters. It then takes a very large number of incidents spread across space and time, and knits them into a good storyline to set up a climax that could do Ludlum or Dan Brown proud. The plot is intricate and unpredictable, though not entirely new. Dan Brown's influence is evident, as is the author's interest in world history.
The plot is good and expansive, the characters are good and so is the setting. It is only the writing style that detracts from an otherwise excellent novel. The entire book is a series of extra-short scenes and snippets, some that are only a short paragraph. The constant flitting from place to place and across time makes reading tiresome and the flow jerky after a few chapters. The author's penchant for darting all over the place is also evident in his second novel, Chanakya's Chant, but to a lesser degree.
Despite the annoying style, I liked The Rozabal Line more than Chanakya's Chant. The incidents in this book are more credible that in Chanakya's Chant. I was pleased to find it available as an eBook on Amazon for Rs 58, when the physical book was priced at Rs 176 in Flipkart. I grabbed it.
A recommended read, particularly for Indian readers who will perhaps relate more to it than to Da Vinci Code. There is more exposition than is usually tolerated by western readers. As an Indian reader, I found the treatment of karma and rebirth a little bizarre.
Overall, one of the better popular fiction book coming out of India.
Overall Rating: 3 / 5
Sub-ratings: Setting (4); Story (4); Characters (4); Writing (2)
Anyway, my main beef is that the author tries to emulate Ian Fleming in providing an impressive amount of detail, but lacks Fleming's ability to restrict the detail to those areas where it counts. Giving manufacturers' specs for transatlantic aircraft and having Asian characters speak in Kanji is just a bit over the top: "Rozabal Line" thus comes across as a bit of an egoic attempt to show how much the author knows, whereas I'm sure the intent was much different. It would be fun to see a revised version sometime when the writer has more maturity. The plot is worthy, and a slimmed down version would likely be a great read.