We have all grown up reading Birbal stories. The brilliance of the minister has always astonished me. I used to wonder if these indeed are stories of the past or mere fictional crafts. While I got hold of the tree bears the witness I was initially apprehensive as to which category the book would come into. I even expected it to be a children’s book.
Whether inspired from the earlier stories or a new creation from the author, I was pretty impressed with the work. To recreate an era which we have only read about is not an easy job. It doesn’t give the liberty of imaginations while writing a mythological fiction as well.
The plot begins when Akbar marries Rajput princess Hira Kuwari and while the bride’s family lives in Akbar’s palace, Hira’s cousin is murdered in the orchard of Akbar in front of two palace guards but there is no murderer. Right in front of the guards, Sujammal, whom the queen considered her own brother falls down dead with a knife sticking out of his chest. No murderer, no evidence, it is as if Sujammal killed himself or someone has shot a knife from a crossbow. Sujammal had numerous enemies one among whom is Hira’s father himself. Nevertheless the arrow of suspicion is pointed towards Akbar. Hence he summons Birbal his trusted courtier to do an investigation on the murder so that he can prove his innocence in front of his new wife.
The title tree bears the witness reminds us of the Birbal story wherein the mango tree is called in as a witness. While we were of the impression that it is something that happened during the reign of Akbar, the discussion wherein the story if cited, suggests that it happened before the Mughal era. Well, now only the history bears the witness.
The twists and truns in the plot is pulled off naturally and with conviction. There is not a single instance where the readers might feel that ‘ it was not necessary’. Nonetheless, it could not be counted among an impeccable cliffhanger. For a regular reader of thrillers, the pattern of the story would be familiar. This is the best book to gift to someone who has started the reading habit so that they would have a base to start off. Lack of character craft is the major drawback of the book. Though Akbar and Birbal are known to everyone, others like Mansingh, Sujammal,etc could have been introduced in a better light.
Overall the book is a thriller that would be perfect to start with and a perfect one for the Birbal story lovers.
This review is in return of a free book from the publisher