Here is the summary of the book:
A Mythical Kingdom: Legend has it that only those chosen by destiny can gain entry into Shambhala, the mythical kingdom believed to hold the ancient wisdom that humanity will need to resurrect itself from the inevitable apocalypse. They are the Avatari.
An Ancient Artefact: When Henry Ashton, a retired British Army officer settled in the Yorkshire dales, receives a letter from a monk entreating him to prevent a hidden treasure stolen from a Laotian monastery from being misused, he finds himself honour-bound to respond. Assisted by a retired Gurkha Sergeant, a high-strung mathematician from Oxford with a Shambhala fixation of her own and an American mercenary on the CIAs hit list, Ashtons mission leads to an ancient map that dates back to the time of the great Mongol, Kublai Khan.
A Secret that Must Not be Revealed: The group follows the trail, risking the perils of the inhospitable deserts of Ladakh, turmoil in Pakistan and the rugged mountains of Northern Afghanistan, where the Afghan War is at its height. But they are up against a deadly adversary with seemingly unlimited resources, who will stop at nothing to get possession of the anicent secret a secret that, if revealed, could threaten the very fabric of human civilization.
Finally a book by an Indian author that begs attention. I can count on one hand, the many modern Indian thriller that I like and it is not much. But I am pleased to proclaim that Raghu Srinivasan's The Avatari makes the quota for the well liked and the well developed thriller it is. Although the plainness of the cover did much to dissuade me, seeing as there are many books that sport much better looking eye-catching covers ...... but I persisted and was well rewarded.
Majorly set in 1986 and spanning across all of time. Following the death of a Buddhist lama in a monastery, retired British Army Officer Henry Aston is asked to honor a promise made many years ago and prevent the hidden treasure of Shambala from falling int the wrong hands on the pleas of a Laotian monastery. Assisted by companion Durga Bahadur, a retired Gurkha Sergeant, Susan Hamilton, mathematician from Oxford and Peter Radigan, an American mercenary on the CIA's most wanted list. Together they must traverse the journey made by the great Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan through the inhospitable terrains of Ladakh, Pakistan and the rugged mountains of North Afghanistan where the Afghan War is at its heights to save the mystical knowledge of the elusive Kaalchakras.
But the enemy is not far behind with their unlimited resources and their fell desired .... Spanning across three timelines and through numerous perspectives, The Avatari tries to do justice to all of it with the help of a well maintained plot and a well crafted background. And the irony of it all, aside from an Indian author none of the cast are of Indian descent but it doesn't feel out of place at all. Although this is a 512 paged book, it still felt way too long in places and the actual thriller part felt far and too few in between. It is understandable that the author tried to create a solid base but going to such lengths wasn't really necessary.
Nevertheless, it was 'Shambala' that drew me in and did not let go till the end. So as far as a debut thriller is concerned, this is a great beginning for Srinivasan and I would not mind returning for a re-read of this marvelous adventure in the future either.
"A well crafted debut and the promises of Shambala. I recommend"