We left the story at sea in part 2 – Book Review – Ponniyin Selvan #2 The Storm. Prince Arulmozhi Varmar jumps into the sea to save his friend Vandiyathevan from a burning ship. Both, the prince and Vandiyathevan end up adrift in the sea. The boat girl, Poonkhuzali rescues them.
Ponniyin Selvan Book #3 The Sword – Summary
The Prince contracts shivering fever and becomes incoherent. Poonkhuzali, her cousin Senthan Amudhan and Vandiyathevan become very worried and decide to take the Prince to Choodamani Viharam as the Bhikshus there were able to treat shivering fever.
When Poonkhuzali approaches Kodi Karai she notices Periya Pazhuvettarayar and his young wife Nandini waiting with a lot of soldiers. She rows her boat through canals and back channels so that the Prince is not seen by anyone.
Vandiyathevan leaves the task of taking the Prince to Choodamani Viharam to Poonkhuzali and travels to Pazhaiyarai. He wants to meet Princess Kundavai and inform her about the Prince surviving the storm and that he was at the Choodamani Viharam. The entire Kingdom is deeply concerned because they believe that their beloved Prince Arulmozhi Varmar has been lost at sea or worse, drowned.
Nandini and the Pandiya conspirators decide on a new course of action. Nandini invites Aditha Karikalan, the crown prince to the Kadumbur palace. The other kings want to convince Aditha Karikalan to marry the Kadumbur princess Manimekalai and divide the Chola Kingdom into two. One half to be rule by Aditya Karikalan and the other half by Madurantakan.
Princess Kundavai doesn’t want Aditha Karikalan to visit the Kadumbur Palace as she fears for his life. She meets Vandiyathevan and sends him to Kanchi with a message to Aditha Karikalan that he should not accept Nandini’s invitation to visit the Kadumbur Palace. She tells Vandiyathevan that her elder brother may not heed her advise and in that case, he would need to safeguard the Crown Prince from assassins.
Vandiyathevan and Azhwarkadiyan Nambi set out to Kanchi and Princess Kundavai and Vanathi set out to Choodamani Viharam to meet with Prince Arulmozhi Varmar. Princess Kundavai asks the Prince to remain in the viharam till things become better. She feels there would be civil war and riots if the people knew that their beloved Ponniyin Selvan was still alive.
On the way to Kanchi, Vandiyathevan stops at an ironsmith to find out if his horse can be fitted with a horse shoe as the Arab Pirates had told him. At the ironsmith he sees a magnificent sword with a fish emblem engraved in the hilt. The readers get to see the same sword with Nandini and realise that it belonged to the Pandiya King that Nandini was married to. During the clandestine meeting that Nandini has with the Pandiya conspirators its decided that Nandini would use this sword to assassinate the Chola Crown Prince when he visits the Kadumbur Palace.
The story picks up pace and we get to understand some of Nandini’s motivations in this book. Her charm and beauty manages to affect both Parthibendran Pallavan and Kandan Maran deeply and they turn into her supporters, willing to do her bidding.
Kalki has explored the entire range of human emotions in these five volumes. No wonder its a magnum opus.