It’s not just another re-telling. It’s the retelling of the Great Mahabharath without that mythological nonsense. People in this retelling behave, think, sweat and live like mortals. The devas are merely the hill folk with different traditions. Dharma, Maruth and Indra are the chieftains of the hill folk. And that’s all about the tradition of Niyoga. Krishna’s magic of saving Droupadi’s is not really required if Droupadi could stall the oncoming villain with the words. Does it? What do you think would exactly be the reaction of Duryodhana and Dussaasana if Droupadi could say something like “dare to disrobe me if and only if you have the temerity to get a taste of the wrath that would be unleashed by two of mighty clans (Panchalas & Yadavas) whose rules are brothers/brother-figures to me”?
One more I liked about this book the style of narration -nonlinear. The accounts are often recalled and the book is written in such a way even the not-important-looking-figures find could find their voices in this book.
The importance given to the characterization is pretty impressive. In fact, the sanguine episodes of the Mahabharata are given less importance so that more importance could be paid to the characterization which banks heavily on the way the characters think.
I for sure have a different mental-pictures of Kunti, Krishna, Bheema, Dharma, Arjuna, Pandu, Dhritarashtra, Baarama, Karna, Abhimanyu, Ghatotgach, Ekalavya, Salya, Vidura, Samjaya and Hidimbi after reading this book.