Queen Of Ice
Year of Release: 2014
Author: Devika Rangachari
Reading Age: 9-12 years
‘Queen of Ice ‘ is a fictionalized and historical account of the life of queen Didda, who ruled Kashmir ( in present-day India) around the 10th Century. Didda, though born into a royal family – daughter of the King of Lohara and granddaughter of the King of Gandhara, has very little hope for the future. For one, she is lame, and for the other that she is a girl. In the 10th century, when this story takes place, women had very little power. To become a queen and rule a kingdom was unthinkable. Additionally, if one was physically challenged, the chances were even meeker. Didda’s situation is worsened by the fact that her father dislikes her and doesn’t even give her the love and affection that she deserves as his daughter. He allows her to live only because of a prediction made by the royal astrologer that Didda is destined for greatness. To get rid of her, he gets her married, in exchange for a piece of land, to a King who is already married.
But Didda is smart and ambitious. She is not sure about the astrologer’s prediction, but she certainly aspires to achieve greatness. Her debility is a constant cause of distress, but she doesn’t let it become her weakness. The interesting thing about this narration is that, unlike many books, this book is not written to praise or glorify the main character. Didda is presented to the reader with all her flaws. She is ambitious but, at the same time, self-doubting. She is smart but sometimes ends up making big mistakes. She is a visionary but sometimes becomes a victim of her own myopic view. She has a conscience but doesn’t get carried away by impractical beliefs and morals. The author has consciously steered away from the traditional writing style and has not glorified the lead characters. The author has brought forward a story of a queen and her journey in such a way that one can appreciate the challenges she went through and how she overcame many of them to attain power and success as she envisioned it.
The author, Devika Rangachari uses two narrators to tell Didda’s story: one is Didda herself, and the other is Valga, Diddas life long companion and confidant. Although Valga comes into Diddas life to help her move around (as she is big and strong), she ends up serving Didda all through her life with much respect and dedication, and as a result, becomes her confidant. Through these alternating voices of Didda and Valga, the reader learns Diddas story and her journey from being an unwanted daughter to becoming the queen of Kashmir and ruling it for 50 years.
Apart from Didda’s story, there is a beautiful part about the friendship between Didda, Valga, and Naravahana, which is heart-touching. The relationship that the three share is that of love, respect, and trust, equally felt and nurtured by each of them.
All in all, an engaging book that gives the reader a perspective of a successful queen who is lost in history. The author has adeptly done her bit in bringing out the story of a queen who certainly deserves some space in our history books.
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