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This is the first part of a radical retelling, in two volumes, of the ancient Indian epic, The Mahabharata. At the heart of this version is the mystery of Karna. He was found as a baby by a lowly, childless couple who adopted him. The story follows this strange but remarkable boy as he moves from these humble beginnings to become a great warrior, embroiled in a simmering conflict between two sets of royal princes. This retelling aims to be as intriguing to readers familiar with the ancient storyline as to those who have no knowledge of the legend: while staying close to the original plot skeleton, it is profoundly different, with new tissues fleshing out the ancient bones. It also attempts to capture, but in a modern light, the spirit of philosophical drama contained in the original. The Scales traces Karna’s early years, his introduction to the princes, and his enduring rivalry with one of these, Arjuna. The volume concludes with an account of the great dice tournament involving the princes and their allies. In spite of its very personal and western perspective, this book hopes to celebrate ancient India’s immense and varied contributions to humanity.