So made some slow and steady progress with Parthiban Kanavu. Through the conversation between Valli and her grandfather, we get to know of the history between the Pallava King and the Chola King. The Pallavas had apparently established themselves as the monarchs over the the entire land and the king Mahendra Pallava went into a siege in his capital Kanchipuram whens sacked by King Pulakesi of Chalukya kingdom, giving a free run to Pulakesi's armies to attack the Chola kingdom. Luckily Pulakesi could not conquer as he in turn faced threat from the north but before he left, he caused lot of destruction within Chola territory. So Chola people were miffed with the Pallava monarchs.
Then Mahendra's son Narasimha took over - he was a more enterprising monarch who decided to sack Vatapi, the kingdom of Chalukyas. Partiban the king of the Cholas had offered aid in this venture in exchange for tribute being removed and Cholas being treated as an ally kingdom rather than a tributary kingdom. But on received no response, Pariban feels affronted and stops paying tribute. When the Pallava king returns after defeating Chalukyas by himself over 3 years and demand tribute, the Chola king refuses and declares war. It is an unequal war with sure defeat looming. But then it is a matter of pride for the king and his people. They don't want to be a client kingdom living as secondary citizens in the Pallava empire. So the king and his people are all ready to go to war and die fighting instead of dishonor. It is interesting to see what people valued in those times and good to know the history of relations between Cholas, Pallavas, Pandyas and the Chalukyas.
We also get introduced to Marappa Bhupathi, the disloyal half brother of the king, who is miffed that he is not the heir to the throne instead of the king's son. He is against this destructive war for sake of honor. He is a thorough opportunist who has eyes on Valli who is listening to these stories from her grandfather.
It is interesting how Kalki introduces the background to us through the eyes of secondary characters before taking us to the main battlefield. So far it has been a fast read and things have been moving. Even the descriptions have not been tedious as they were loaded with adulation. I think that is the thing about descriptions. If you put emotions into them, they come alive. If not they are dead and boring. It is not about the detail but the emotion.
Made slight progress with Fifth Discipline. It talks of how people don't think systemically and information does not flow correctly between different areas. It also says how structures influence decisions more than individuals. Somehow in line with Tolstoy's idea of flow of history. He gives example of how Russia got entangled in war in small Balkan states and US got entangled in war in Vietnam not as deliberate well thought out plan but as a series of reactions one after the other due to the overall structure. Reminded me of the book 'Tactics of Mistake' where the protagonist leads the antagonist into a war of his choosing by setting up one skirmish after another and escalating slowly till suddenly the antagonist is caught in a big war which he would have been glad not to fight. This again relates to the old idea of the frog in water being boiled he gives. The frog is initially quite comfortable in the water and continues to be as temperature begins to raise. When it reaches killing level, it is too late.