Book Review – Ponniyin Selvan #2 The Storm

Do read my review of Book 1 – Book Review – Ponniyin Selvan #1, if you haven’t before reading this review. There are totally five books and they have to be read in sequence to make sense of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s magnum opus “Ponniyin Selvan”. The second book is titled “The Storm” and what a storm !!!

Ponniyin Selvan Book 2 – The Storm Summary

The story unravels a little more in this book. We left book 1 with Vandiyathevan and Parthibendran leaving for Ilankai (Sri Lanka) with messages for Arulmozhi Varmar from Princess Kundavai and crown prince Aditha Karikalan respectively. Both the elder siblings wanted Arulmozhi Varmar to return to Thanjavur.

In book 2, we hear about Sundara Chola and his days as a young prince. He gets stranded on an island near Ilankai and falls in love with a deaf and mute girl named Mandakini. He promises to marry her but when his men find him and take him back to the Kingdom, circumstances change. He is made the Crown Prince and marries another young princess.

Mandakini is heartbroken and commits suicide by jumping from the Kodi Karai lighthouse. Emperor Sundara Chola believes that her ghost is haunting him and wants him to give the Chola Kingdom to Maduranthakan.

Vandiyathevan reaches Kodi Karai and meets the boat girl Poonkuzhali (What a lovely name ❤️) who takes him to Ilankai. He also meets Azhwarkadiyan who gets him to meet Prince Arulmozhi Varmar. The prince who later on becomes the greatest Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola (goosebumps as I write his name) and Vandiyathevan take to each other immediately and become fast friends.

Arulmozhi Varmar mentions about a deaf and mute woman who has been saving his life and helping him in Ilankai. He calls her “Kaveri Amman” and remembers that she saved him from drowning as a young boy. When Vandiyathevan sees Kaveri Amman he is struck by her resemblance to Nandini, the young wife of Periya Pazhuvettarayar. He concludes that they must be mother-daughter.

Poonkuzhali meets them and informs then that two warships have come to arrest Arulmozhi Varmar on the orders of Emperor Sundara Cholan. Kodumbalur Periya Velar (whose niece Vanathi is hoping to marry Prince Arulmozhi Varmar) and Parthibendran advise the prince against surrendering, but he decides to go ahead anyway.

The warships weren’t faring well, one runs aground and the other is captured by Arab Pirates. Vandiyathevan assumes that the Prince is held prisoner on this ship and gets captured by Pandiya conspirators Ravidasan and his companion. The Prince immediately jumps into the sea to rescue his friend Vandiyathevan.

In the meantime, Vandiyathevan kills the Arab pirates but Ravidasan and his companion abandon the ship leaving him in it. The storm intensifies and a bolt of lightning hits the sails setting the ship on fire. Arulmozhi Varmar manages to rescue Vandiyathevan and they both are rescued by Poonkuzhali.

Parthibendran and many others in the meantime assume that Prince Arulmozhi Varmar is lost at sea or maybe he perished in the storm.

Ponniyin Selvan - Vandiyathevan, The storm
Vandiyathevan’s statue in Chennai inaugurated by then CM (Late) Mr. Karunanidhi.

Vandiyathevan is a historical character, not a fictional one. He remains a close friend of Raja Raja Chola and marries his elder sister Princess Kundavai.

As far as Raja Raja Chola is concerned, there has to be a series of blogs on him to understand his greatness. Even as a prince, the women and children in Ilankai wanted him as their ruler because he ensured that they were undisturbed during the war with King Mahindan. What an amazing thought …. at a time when war was a way of life and women and children bore the brunt of it.

The Chola Empire needs more study and has to be brought into the mainstream. The more I read about them, the more fascinated I become.

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