Sigiriya: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, Betrayal, and Tragedy in the Royal Court by Senani Ponnamperuma

Book Cover


Date of Publication: July 16th 2019

Genre: Asian Literature, Historical Asian Literature, Ancient Historical Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kasyapa is the bastard child of a king and a village girl. On his mother’s untimely death, he is plucked from his tiny village and brought to the royal palace. Shunned by his father, the king, this lonely little boy is raised by royal courtiers. As an adult, he is sidelined, but fate intervenes. The villainous Migara, the chief of the army and Kasyapa’s nemesis, murders the king and implicates Kasyapa in this hideous crime. Even though his lowly birth denies him the right to the throne, Kasyapa must act to save the kingdom. What events unfold next that drives him to build Sigiriya and rule as a god-king?

This is also the story of Amira, a beautiful red-haired, blue-eyed girl, who is only twelve years old when her father sells her into slavery. At eighteen, she is traded for a hundred pearls and joins Kasyapa’s harem. Here, she is transformed into an alluring concubine. Amira soon infatuates the king with her stunning beauty, wide-eyed innocence, and good heart.

Set fifteen hundred years ago and based on real people and events, Sigiriya is a hauntingly beautiful story of palace intrigue, passion, deceit, betrayal, and tragedy. It reminds us that little has changed over the centuries. Good and evil, love and hate, decency and cruelty are ever-present. But some, by the sheer strength of character and determination, rise above their stations and do great things.

First Line:

Kasyapa remembered little of that day. When they covered his mother with a linen shroud, placed her on a funeral pyre, and set her aflame.

Sigiriya: the epic story of love, loss, betrayal, and tragedy in the royal court by senani ponnamperuma

When I read the blurb for Sigiriya, I was a little hesitant to read it. I am not very familiar with West Asian literature, history, and religion. But I am a big believer in experiencing (and in this case: reading) things that are out of my comfort zone. I am so glad that I decided to read Sigiriya!! It was a compelling and exciting look at Kasyapa and his legacy.

Sigiriya is a story based on Kasyapa, a Sri Lankan king who existed almost 2000 years ago. This book follows Kasyapa from the age of five to his death by suicide during a battle. It was a fascinating story that intrigued me from page one.

The storyline was medium-paced, and it worked perfectly for the book. If it had been fast-paced, I would have missed out on some of the small details that the author wove into the book.

I liked Kasyapa. He went through so much when he was a child (losing his mother, being raised by his father’s servants), and it shaped him into the man, and eventually, the king that he was meant to be. I did think he was a little nuts to keep Migara around, but the author did keep with historical accounts.

Speaking of Migara, I couldn’t stand him. He left a bad taste in my mouth every time he appeared in the book. There was a point in the book where I had to put it down because I couldn’t believe that Kasyapa kept him as head of the Army. He ranks up there as one of my most unpopular secondary characters.

I was a little put off by Amira being a concubine at 12 and Kasyapa summoning her to his bed-chamber. Now, I understand that it was commonplace for children of her age to marry or be used as concubines but still. I also couldn’t quite place where she came from. She had red hair, white skin, and blue eyes….so I was thinking Russia?

I do want to warn you that there are several scenes of graphic violence throughout the book. I was a little disgusted by the chamberlain’s execution. He was impaled through his rectum and then gutted. I was squirming in my bed when I read that scene.

The end of Sigiriya was not a happy ending. I was expecting that. I did feel that it did justice to Kasyapa’s rule. I did find fault with what happened to the harem, though. I couldn’t believe what was done to them and what they were forced to do!!!!

I would recommend Sigiriya to anyone over the age of 21. There is no sex but there is violence.

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