The Prince: An excerpt from Samhita Arni's fourth book, a historical fiction inspired by a Tamil epic

The Prince
Book Excerpt 

Uthiyan wandered, as if in a dream, through scenes of desecration. Each room told a similar story. Bloodstains on the floor, figures lying face down, claimed by death. Soldiers and commoners alike, scurrying quickly down corridors, gems and priceless objects clutched tightly in their hands.

Uthiyan’s heart sank. War, no matter what the cause, the pretext, seemed to always look the same – the same story each time. How often had his father done this?

Had his brother done this?

Outside the palace, the silver pattimandapam, the source of so much of Neduncheliyan’s glory and greatness, was on fire.The silver walls were alight with the red-gold flames. A crowd had gathered – and to Uthiyan’s surprise, they cheered.

As he watched, a soldier ran past him, his arms full of scrolls, towards the fire.

‘Wait!’ Uthiyan called out. ‘What are you doing with those?’

The soldier paused for an instant. . . .