cover image Golden Fire: A Novel of Ancient India

Golden Fire: A Novel of Ancient India

Jonathan Fast, Author Arbor House $18.95 (418p) ISBN 978-0-87795-764-5

Set in fourth century India, Fast's novel about subterfuge, thwarted romance and royal schemers depicts actual historical figures. Villainous Prince Rama, son of bombastic King Samudra Gupta, rues the fact that his harelip may prevent him from becoming India's sovereign after Samudra's death. To prevent his infant half-brother, Prince Candra, from later ascending to power, Rama instigates an abortive plot to murder the child. The king discovers the plan, and cunningly safeguards Candra by giving him a new identity as the son of a local silk merchant, staging a mock funeral to dupe the public into thinking Candra has died. Years later, Candranow called Dattakafalls in love with Rama's prospective bride. The lovers must part when Rama uncovers their liaison, and Dattaka flees to China disguised as a Buddhist monk, but he will eventually meet Rama in an awesome battlefield clash. Fast is a skilled raconteur, although a profusion of minor characters and of Sanskrit vocabulary slow the narrative. (March 31)