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The Mahabharata, an ancient and vast Sanskrit poem, is a remarkable collection of epics, legends, romances, theology, and ethical and metaphysical doctrine. The core of this great work is the epic struggle between five heroic brothers, the Pandavas, and their one hundred contentious cousins for rule of the land. This is the third volume of van Buitenen's acclaimed translation of the definitive Poona edition of the text. Book 4, The Book of Virata, begins as a burlesque, but the mood soon darkens amid molestation, raids, and Arjuna's battle with the principal heroes of the enemy. Book 5, The Book of the Effort, relates the attempts of the Pandavas to negotiate the return of their patrimony. They are refused so much as a "pinprick of land," and both parties finally march to battle.