I completed reading the entire Ponniyin Selvan books (5 of them) within a span of 20 days … its nearly 2300 pages. Haven’t been very diligent in posting the reviews. Am writing this review without referring to the book !! That’s how gripping the tale of Ponniyin Selvan is. It also shows the greatness of Kalki Krishnamurthy as a writer. Ponniyin Selvan Book #5 Vol 1 – The Pinnacle of Sacrifice.
Summary of Book #5 Vol 2
The last part of the story starts with Azhwarkadiyan meeting Poonkuzhali as she follows the Pandiyan conspirators to their hideout near Kollidam. Poonkuzhali narrates how her aunt, the Oomai Rani was murdered in the process of saving the emperor Sundara Chola.
Azhwarkadiyan and Poonkuzhali keep following the Pandiyan conspirators till they reach a cave. Periya Pazhuvettarayar is inside the cave as is Nandini. The Pandiyan conspirators and Azhwarkadiyan exchange words and Nandini realises that her mother, Mandakini Devi aka Ooomai Rani has been killed. As she sits down to lament about it, Chinna Pazhuvettarayar and Kandan Maran come to the same spot, led there by Sendhan Amudhan, Poonkuzhali’s cousin.
The conspirators escape and the Pazhuvettarayar brothers are reunited. They exchange news of all that had happened in the interim.
Nandini takes Periya Pazhuvettarayar’s blessings for one last time and leaves on a horse, never to return to the story.
The funeral of Aditha Karikalan is a sombre affair. People bid a tearful adieu to the great warrior, who entered a war at the age of 12. Aditha Karikalan was called Koppara Kesari for having beheaded the great Veerapandyan. The anger towards the Pazhuvettarayars and Maduranthakan bubbles over.
Maduranthakan meets his mother Sembiyanmadevi at the Prime Minister’s palace and she shares the secret with him, that he is not her son. Sembiyanmadevi gives birth to a baby boy, who seems to be stillborn. She hands him over to the sister of Oomai Rani and the sister brings Oomai Rani’s baby boy to the empress. So Maduranthakan is not of Chola lineage at all !!!!
Maduranthakan asks Sembiyanmadevi to recount the entire story and figures out that the empress’ real son was Senthan Amudhan. Unknown to Sembiyanmadevi and the Prime Minister, Arulmozhi Varman had overheard their conversation but he already knew this secret since he had met with the Oomai Rani several times. He offers to sacrifice his right to the Chola throne and says Maduranthakan can be crowned.
In the meantime, Kundavai receives the scroll that Aditha Karikalan had penned just before his untimely death from Manimekalai. Arulmozhi and Kundavai figure out that Maduranthakan and Nandini were not their siblings as they were born two years after their father had returned from Ilankai (Sri Lanka).
While all this is happening, Vandiyathevan escapes the dungeons once again with the help of the madman, Karuthiruman who was in the cell next to his. The madman knew Maduranthakar’s secret and also where the Pandiyan jewelled crown was kept in Ilankai.
Azhwarkadiyan in the guise of a prison guard manages to catch up with Vandiyathevan and when he wants a horse, he suggests going to Sendhan Amudhan’s house. Vandiyathevan saves Sendhan Amudhan’s life as Maduranthakan comes there to kill him (in order to ascend the Chola throne). Maduranthakan escapes and Vandiyathevan is treated by Sendhan Amudhan’s mother.
Kandan Maran who goes in search of Vandiyathevan assumes that he killed him across the river bridge when it was Maduranthakan who was fleeing…
The emperor gets all the important people together and tries to decide on his successor. Periya Pazhuvettarayar passes away in the midst of the deliberations. Vandiyathevan is safely recovering at the Prime Minister’s palace. Sembiyanmadevi finally breaks her secret to Sendhan Amudhan about his lineage.
The Pinnacle of sacrifice is Arulmozhi Varmar manages to crown Sendhan Amudhan as Uttama Chola, the successor to Emperor Sundara Chozha.
Am sure I will read all five volumes of this book, again and again because the story is so enchanting. Especially knowing that the historical events are all facts… just a few characters have been added to weave the story.
Please do read the entire book, all five volumes … we learn a lot about the Chola empire through this magnum opus.