Tag Archives: mythology

Mythological Fiction: Raavanputr Meghnad

Raavanputr Meghnad by Kevil Missal is a new mythological fiction that follows the lesser-known Meghnad, Raavan’s favourite son, who fought on Ram’s side!

Ravanputr Meghnad
Ravanputr Meghnad

Mythological Fiction in Raavanputr Meghnad

Towards the beginning of this month, I had picked up Vyasa, a graphic novel on the Mahabharata. As such, it was only fitting that I also read a fictional twist on the Ramayana as well. Ravanputr Meghnad by Kevin Missal is based on the Ramayana, more specifically, Raavan’s favourite son Meghnad. However, the storyline is not true to the actual Ramayana and has been fictionalized, so do keep that in mind before picking up the book.

Get this book for yourself! Amazon Goodreads

Raavanputr Meghnad versus the Ramayana

The plot was an interesting one and it helped me to imagine another way in which the story may have happened. I quite enjoyed the path it took especially in regards to the development of Meghnad’s character. The change, which occurs especially after his meeting the love of his life, a Naga princess, was quite fast towards the middle. It is at this point that he realizes that his ways may not have been entirely right.

Narrative style

Changing narratives also kept the plot interesting and I liked getting glimpses into the actions, and thus, the minds of the various characters such as Meghnad, Prameela, Suparnika, and Laxman.

What I did not like about this mythological fiction

However, since it was inspired by actual mythology, the setting has been the same. As such, I think it was a strike against the book that the characters used modern slangs, which seemed out of time for the characters. Moreover, the author tried to bring in comedic elements through the familial bonds, which I do not think worked very well.

Verdict:

Overall, it was an enjoyable and quick read. I was absorbed while reading it and did like the overall arch. If you like mythological stories written with a twist, this is definitely one you should pick up soon. I rated it 3.75/5 stars.

Check out similar books: Upon a Burning Throne books 1 and 2; Narasimha; Greek Mythology; The Secret of Palamu Fort; Ashwatthama’s Redemption; Kaalkoot, etc.

My experience with the graphic novel

With reference to Pumpkinheads and Vyasa

Vyasa and Pumpkinheads
Vyasa and Pumpkinheads

I finally started reading the graphic novel from 2019 and it honestly has been a great journey so far. In my 5th semester, I decided to pursue a Visual Studies elective. I was lucky enough to have a great teacher under whom I explored this genre and saw what fun it is!

Graphic novel: Pumpkinheads

I recently picked up Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks and it was my first graphic novel of the year. To be very honest, I was suffering from a terrible reading slump and so I wanted to read something fun and not very intense. That is the reason why I decided to pick up Pumpkinheads, about which my bestie Gayatri had been raving about from the time she read it. and I really enjoyed it. It certainly helped me get over my slump.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

However, on that very note, it span over the time period of just a few hours. It is not a book with a lot of depth, so if that is what you are expecting it to be, you might be disappointed. I found it be a fun and flirty read. Moreover, it has great LGBT representation and it definitely broke free of the generic stereotypes of boys and girls. Lastly, I was blown away by the amazing art. The predominant colours were that of orange, burnt ochre, and all the autumn colours, which made the book an art piece to feast on. I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. It was a 3.75 star read for me.

Vyasa and Pumpkinheads: a glimpse
Vyasa and Pumpkinheads: a glimpse

Graphic novel: Vyasa

After that I was so in love with pictures that can take over your imagination, that I decided to go after another graphic novel and this time, I picked up Vyasa. This book is on the Indian epic Mahabharata, a personal favourite. The story is by Sibaji Bandyopadhyay and the art is by Sankha Banerjee. The way this book was written was amazing. I loved the recurrent jumps in time and the overall framing structure that combined the stories within the story. However, it was only the first part and I was left dangling.

Now I am eagerly waiting for the sequel to Vyasa: The Beginning. The art in this book is stunning as well and I was spellbound throughout. The fact that I finally have pictures that can accompany the stories I, and we all, grew up with, was a wonder in itself. I absolutely loved this book and I rated it 4.5 star read for me.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

Check out similarly themed books: Upon a Burning Throne, What if it’s you?, etc.

Greek Mythology: A Retelling

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys is a retelling of 6 popular stories from Greek mythology. The author lends his humourous spirit to this collection!

Photo of A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys

Greek Mythology: Stunning art pieces

First off, I want to just spend a moment to rest my eyes on the stunning cover! I love the yellows and the browns and it is just so aesthetic! The warm tones provide the perfect spot of colour in this dismal weather.

A Wonder Books for Girls and Boys

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys is basically a retelling of 6 popular Greek stories – The Gorgon’s Head, The Golden Touch, The Paradise of Children, The Three Golden Apples, The Miraculous Pitcher and The Chimaera. Most of us have already heard of Medusa and Midas in some morality play or moral stories, in one way or the other. This, Hawthorne’s method, too, proved to be a hearty experience.

Writing style

The stories are written in the story-within-a-story format and in this way, the author has involved a brilliant framing device. ‘Cousin Eustace’ a bright lad of 18, is telling these stories to his younger cousins, adding his own flavours to the curry, so to speak. Hawthorne’s blend of humour abounds this collection.

Add it on Goodreads!

Greek Mythology versus this retelling

The stories are not truly ‘faithful’ to the actual Greek legends, but instead, Hawthorne has added his own spirit and essence to these. He has rewritten these stories in a gothic or a romantic style. Although essentially the same, there are many funny instances that will make you laugh out loud at times. Each of these stories provides an exceptional experience to the reader and makes for one hell of a time!

Get it on Amazon!

Verdict:

Although there are also morals clearly thrust forward, it is not overbearingly so. Thus, it proved to be an interesting read and not preachy at all! I rate this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to you all. It is quite short and you can read it in an hour. You could also read it out to your children or siblings and I am sure that they will love them as well.

Recommendations on Indian Mythology:

  1. Narasimha
  2. Upon a Burning Throne I
  3. Upon a Burning Throne II
  4. Ashwatthama’s Redemption

Adity Kay's Emperor Chandragupta & Emperor Vikramaditya

Title: Emperor Chandragupta, Emperor Vikramaditya

Author: Adity Kay

Publisher: Hachette

Genre: Historical fiction

Format: Paperback

Synopsis of Emperor Chandragupta, 2016:

Building an empire is not easy, especially when there are enemies everywhere and no one you can trust. India, 326 BCE. The world’s greatest conqueror, Alexander, the Greek emperor, is at its doorstep, having arrived at the Indus seeking to establish his dominion over the entire known world. In the east lies Magadha, ruled by the Nandas, a dynasty driven by greed, lust and hunger for power.  From the embers of that lust and avarice a boy has been born, raised by a tribe of peacock-tamers – a boy named Moriya forced by the Nanda clan to be on the run. Aided by Chanakya, a political strategist at odds with his former rulers, who trains him in the ways of the world and christens him Chandragupta, the young man ventures across the vast Magadhan empire to form an army of his own and seek out the foreign invader. But being a warrior prince, he finds, comes at a heavy price – assassins appointed by the Nanda kings will stop at nothing to eliminate him, a rival prince seeks revenge through cruelty and friends are no longer what they seem… 

This is the story of a youth who must fight against all odds – within and without – to become one of the greatest emperors ever known. This is the story of Chandragupta Maurya. 

Synopsis of Emperor Vikramaditya, 2019:

Love. Family. Home. Chandra has sacrificed it all at the altar of duty. now, he has to choose between duty and justice. India, fourth century CE. Peace reigns in the land of Magadha, under the rule of Emperor Samudragupta. New alliances are made every day, trade and the arts flourish, and Chandra ? the young prince ? leads his father?s horse across the length of Bharatvarsha as a part of the ashwamedha yagna, cementing the emperor?s influence. The kingdom is at its peak, but Chandra?s thoughts are clouded, his heart heavy. As his elder brother, Ramagupta, prepares to take their ageing father?s place on the throne, Chandra, bound as he is to obey the future king, wrestles constantly with his brother?s decisions ? decisions he believes are inimical to the stability of the empire. And so begins a tale of conflict between two brothers: one drunk on power, buoyed by the unmitigated support of the Pataliputra court, the other a seeming outsider in the palace, who yet commands the people?s loyalty and love. And when an enemy unlike any before rises to challenge the Guptas? might, Chandra must overcome his demons in order to protect his people and become a king in his own right ? he must become Vikramaditya. 

A brilliant new historical fiction series by Adity Kay, Emperor Chandragupta and Emperor Vikramaditya, is filled with action, adventure, battles, politics, and family drama! I had great fun curling up with these as the heavens poured outside, and even as the sun shined on. 

Disclaimer: I received review copies from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

My review for Emperor Chandragupta:

In Emperor Chandragupta, we follow the young Moriya, as the eponymous  ruler was known back when he was a child, growing up in a tribe of peacock tamers, from his childhood to his mighty reign over the great kingdom of India. This journey from such obscurity is a long and arduous one and  the author has successfully touched upon most, if not all, of the important events from is life.

The atmospheric sense is amazing. The description of the world is enough to make you feel as if you are part of the India of those times, and the events are happening in your own lifetime. The ambience is glorious and encompasses the extravagant courts at Pataliputra and Alexander’s camp, as well as the natural scenes of the dry deserts of the west.

The characterization of Chandragupta and Chanakya was profound. Aided by his mentor, Chandragupta ultimately overpowers the great Magadhan Empire. The interrelationships among the various other characters were also well explored, although a few could have seen more depth. The political aspect, which is undoubtedly one of the most important in a novel of this type, was also well portrayed through the various glimpses into the administrative system, the perception of dharma and how it influences human actions, the search for allies etc was on point. There is adventure as well, and action, that is bound to keep you in the edge of your seats.

My review for Emperor Vikramaditya:

A prequel to Emperor Chandragupta, Adity Kay’s Emperor Vikramaditya was a well awaited book for me. I had picked up the first book and was mesmerized by it. So after finishing that one, I was absolutely very excited to pick up the sequel as well.

Vikramaditya is the younger son of King Samudragupta, he was also called the Chandragupta II. Throughout this book we see the constant struggles he faces – it is a lot about people facing their fears I suppose. Chandra does not at all agree with his elder brother Ramagupta’s viewpoints. Like Dumbledore once said, it is easy to rise up against one’s enemies, but the greatest courage lies in standing up against one’s friends. Likewise, as Ramagupta starts making decisions, which are harmful for the country in the long term, young Chandra has to plunge headfirst into trying to stand up against what he believes are wrong views of his profligate brother.

With a lucid writing style, Adity Kay has again managed to drown the readers into the story of this legendary figure in India’s history. The gripping narrative is supported by a great plotline, full of emotions that are real and so very relatable, with characters that feel so real you could probably touch them, and dialogues. Filled to the brim with action and adventure, Emperor Vikramaditya was a stunning sequel to the first book in the series – Emperor Chandragupta.

Verdict:

I had an amazing time, reading the books. I rate them both 4/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

June book haul 2019!

Hey guys! How’s it going? I have been having a great time reading books for the #readingrush challenge and I have already finished 3 books and am halfway into the third. Currently reading King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo for the challenge to read a book with a non-human main character. And I am loving it! How is Leigh Bardugo this good with her words?!!! On the same note, have you seen the Crooked Kingdom collector’s edition? It is so beautiful.

Moving on, in June I acquired 17 new books and they are:

  1. City of Girls
  2. Perfume
  3. The Right Time
  4. The Good Fight
  5. The Duchess
  6. Funny Boy
  7. Dangerous Games
  8. Just Rewards
  9. Unexpected Blessings
  10. Narasimha
  11. Lost and Found
  12. The Intelligence Trap
  13. The Secret of the Palamu Fort
  14. Aurora Rising
  15. What Mina Did
  16. Let’s Hope for the Best
  17. After the Flood

Thanks to all the publishers for sending the review copies to me! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them!

Narasimha: The Mahaavatar Trilogy Book 1, by Kevin Missal, 2019

Title: Narasimha: The Mahaavatar Trilogy Book 1

Author: Kevin Missal

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Genre: Mythology/Fantasy/Fiction

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 346

Synopsis:

Narasimha, once a brave soldier, has left the war and lies low as a physician in a village. But a familiar face from his past seeks his help to stop the tyranny of the blind usurper Andhaka. If Narasimha refuses, the world might just end. What will he do? And why did he leave the war in the first place? Prahlad, the interim king of Kashyapuri, is torn between the ideals of his unrighteous father and his love for Lord Vishnu. Whom will he choose? Hiranyakashyap, the ruler of the Asura Empire, wants to avenge the death of his wife. To do that, he must go through the Trials and get the ultimate weapon – the Brahmastra. But the Trials have sent so many others to their death. Can Hiranyakashyap survive?

My review:

I received a review copy in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I picked up this book because I was in the mood for something like fantasy but with an Indian twist! And besides I have had this book in my TBR pile for so long, that when I remembered that this totally was a fit for my reading hunger pangs, I knew it was destiny!

Firstly, I really like the cover (Please don’t judge me; I’ve got a serious thing for covers!) and this interpretation that the author has regarding this famous character from our mythology is really refreshing. And I did not really notice his face but after I read how the author has portrayed the simha tribe, I could see the difference! Comment if you can understand my drift!

One of the most important yet underlying themes I saw was the background to Andhaka – his past basically, that has shaped him into the man he is. Child abuse is something not talked about as often in these books and I really applaud the author’s inclusion of it. it just is important in making us aware how such behaviour can scar a person for life.

Moreover, Narasimha’s character arc is very significant in this story I think and I enjoyed reading it. The other characters, although not all good, and some not very bad, are really fascinating nonetheless. There was depth to their thinking, their behaviour and their action and so I really enjoyed the web that he author has weaved around them all, to create a thrilling storyline.

The book was evenly paced, bordering on the faster side of the spectrum and it never let you get bored. The world building was also great. Also, the focus on relationships that these characters had with each other were also great for us to explore. Filled with vengeance, ambition, revenge, etc. this was a mythological thriller!

Verdict:

It was an enjoyable read and I rate it 3.75/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Secret of the Palamu Fort, by Razi, 2019

Title:  Secret of the Palamu Fort

Author: Razi

Publisher: StoryMirror Infotch Pvt. Ltd.

Genre: Mythology/Thriller

Format: paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 250

Synopsis:

Someone has risen from the dead and is haunting the sinister ruins of the Palamu Fort, situated in the mystical land of Jharkhand.
A few hundred kilometers from the fort, in the capital city Ranchi, a History Professor of St. Xavier’s college is murdered at his home. The witnesses claim he was killed by a ghost! 
The police is clueless. Inspector Patrick Minj ropes in Detective Robin Horo, who unearths a clue which indicates that the murder has a bloody trail running as far as 350 years in the history of Jharkhand. A poisonous conspiracy was plotted centuries ago in the Kingdom of Palamu that designed the downfall of an empire and forced the king to hide his legacy in the unforgiving and indifferent womb of time. 
The ghost is leaving behind a trail of dead bodies and to solve the case Robin has nothing but an Artifact that is said to have an ancient curse over it and a centuries old riddle that if solved, could lead to an Elixir. 
Witness the conspiracy unfolding that spans 350 years in the making and takes Robin and his companions on a labyrinthine adventure involving deadly secrets, dangerous threats and a lethal encounter with a beast in the jungles of Palamu. 

My review:

I received a free review copy in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

A perfect blend of mystery and thriller, Secret of the Palamu Fort is centered around the actual site. The author has weaved a murder mystery (with secret cursed treasure and a whodunit scope as well) around these majestic forts from Jharkhand, India.

The story begins with the murder of a History professor by a supposed ghost and this is where it unravels. The police can obviously make no sense of it and so the ‘Honorary Consultant’, Dtective Robin Horo is brought in. Comment if it too reminds you of Lestrange and Holmes! Now it is up to Robin to solve the murders revolving around this curse! Other characters are Neil, the nephew, who gives us a neutral point of view to the whole process, considering he is just a teenager. There is also Babulaji who, you can say, provides comic relief. However, I myself found him quite irritating especially because of the jokes he cracks – most of which are lame. However, I found Babulaji inspired from Watson, as he is really keen on keeping a record and writing about all these events and the process, as he follows Robin around.

Overall, the plot was really well done. With simple and lucid language, the reader is kept hooked on until the end. I have found that there are many plot holes in these books which are a cross between mythology and thriller, but it was not so with this book and that was great. The only negative I found was that the tone gets a bit preachy sometimes (but that may be my personal estimate clouding over) and it becomes a classic scenario of TMI.

Nonetheless, this book has been kept really understandable for readers across the spectrum. The language is quite, what one can call, ‘Indianized’ and it would thus be very easy for all sorts of readers to enjoy this book. The narration is on point and really nice if you look at it from an all-encompassing point of view. The multiple timeline aspect has also been worked out well and does not clash with the readers’ perceptions. One interesting fact I noticed was the use of small chapters in between which simply made me read on, more. The twists and turns were unexpected and left me quite surprised. I had not really predicted the end.

I also love the cover, as I found it very aesthetic! Moreover, it is relevant to the story as you will find out. (Pick up the book soon!)

Verdict:

It was a really gripping and interesting read. I rate it 4/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Upon A Burning Throne (Part 1 of The Burnt Empire Saga), by Ashok K Banker, 2019

Title: Upon A Burning Throne (Part 1 of The Burnt Empire Saga)

Author: Ashok K Banker

Publisher: Simon & Schuster India

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Historical fiction

Format: Papaerback

Language: English

No. of pages: 350

Recommended for: If you are a fan of mythology and fantasy, as well as fiction, this is definitely a book you need to pick up ASAP!

Synopsis:

From international sensation Ashok K. Banker, pioneer of the fantasy genre in India, comes the first book in a ground-breaking, epic fantasy series inspired by the ancient Indian classic, The Mahabharata

In a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without an emperor. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legendary Burning Throne and pass The Test of Fire. Imbued with dark sorceries, the throne is a crucible—one that incinerates the unworthy.
 
Adri and Shvate pass The Test and are declared heirs to the empire… but there is another with a claim to power, another who also survives: a girl from an outlying kingdom. When this girl, whose father is the powerful demonlord Jarsun, is denied her claim by the interim leaders, Jarsun declares war, vowing to tear the Burnt Empire apart—leaving the young princes Adri and Shvate to rule a shattered realm embroiled in rebellion and chaos….  
 
Welcome to the Burnt Empire Saga.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Let me begin by saying that this is a wonderful book inspired by just as wonderful an epic. Banker’s writing style is mesmerizing and having already read and loved a book of him, I was excited to see how this would turn out. And believe me, my expectations were set, but Bakeer flew way above those.

Let’s talk about the world-building first. Banker is meticulous with his description of the world in the book – Arthaloka. His attention to detail is uniquely reflected in the plotline and the reader’s imagination’s eye. I believe that in any fantasy, one of the most important things is the world building and Banker has done it exceptionally well. It ensnares you completely and without any possible exit. He makes sure that the reader is always intrigued and just cannot help but flip the page and continue reading, despite the fact that its way past their bedtime. The foreshadowing one understands when one finishes reading the book will definitely give you a huge realization moment – your own anagnorisis!

The characters again are all modeled after the famous mythical characters in the Mahabharata, but with their own special Banker seasoning. Throughout the novel, the character arc develop and at the end (which ends in a cliffhanger that has me kind of despondent until the next book comes out), these characters have gone on their journeys, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, and they reflect in them. We lose some dear characters but in fantasy, that is expected I suppose. I personally think that Jilana is a misunderstood character but that is a personal perception. Drawing parallels between Banker’s characters and the ones from the epic most of us already heard from our elders when we were children, was fascinating to say the least.

The themes of survival, war, human resilience in the face of decisions, the position of women, societal pressure, Divine Providence, etc are all covered and seen affecting the stories of all the characters. What I also love is that there is no longer any binary – a strict division between what is solely good and what is evil. Everyone is drawn to a point where they have to or have already made decisions that were not truly evil but not right, either. The moral conundrum that we humans face is on point in this book – it is dubious, the decisions we personally make sometimes as well as the ones made by the characters in this book.

There are so many storylines that are interconnected that it a veritable atlas of fascinating stories that will offer you a maelstrom of different emotions as you read through.

The cover is just as vivid and really emulates the story, I think.

Verdict:

I enjoyed reading this thrilling ride of a book and I rate it a 4/5 stars.

About the author:

Author. Over 70 books 3 million copies 21 languages 62 countries.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Ashwatthama’a Redemption: The Rise of Dandak, Gunjan Porwal, 2018

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Title: Ashwatthama’s Redemption: The Rise of Dandak
Author: Gunjan Porwal
Publisher: Om Books International
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 263
Synopsis:
Over a hundred years after the Mahabharata War, an ancient power threatens to destroy the new Age of Men, by establishing the Age of Terror of the asuras, long believed to be extinct. The only hurdle in its path is Guru Dronacharya’s son, the mighty but accursed warrior Ashwatthama, who lost all his powers following Lord Krishna’s curse, and who unwittingly finds himself drawn into the quest of the lost bow of Lord Rama – the Kodanda.
As ghosts of the distant past return to haunt him, and the line between friends and enemies blurs, Ashwatthama must fight his inner demons to emerge victorious. He undertakes a perilous journey – across the vast plains of the gages, to the snow-capped peaks of the Himavant – where the price of failure is a fate worse than death, and death is a privilege not granted to Ashwatthama.
Is this all part of Lord Krishna’s great plan? Will Ashwatthama be able to regain his lost glory?
My review:
Ashwatthama’s Redemption is a mythological fiction book, and one of the best of its kind. I found in it, a perfect blend of all elements that have the capacity to thrust forward and make popular any book within the genre. Perhaps that explains the amazing ratings that this book has been gathering, and deservedly so.
The entire plot was well planned out and detailed – elaborate in its own scope and leaving the reader intrigued by the ending – there is undoubtedly a sequel coming out. The author has maintained the plot pace very well and it really becomes fast paced towards the end of the book, leading to a crescendo!
The themes again – war, politics, human spirit in the face of doom, friendship, kinship etc., are all very dynamic, as shown in the book and the fiction element with which the author has written this mythological tale is fluent and free-flowing. There were no jerks throughout. It all sounds like it happened, but the best part is that the reader feels like he or she is a part of the adventure. The world building was good, but I admit, could have been better. The inclusion of the map in the beginning was a great idea but perhaps it would have been preferable if the naming had been done in English and not Hindi. The mystery element is also one that needs special mention – the hermeneutic and pro-airetic codes used have truly helped in that regard.
The character created by the author are well made – they are round and multi-dimensional, except the side characters, of course. Their backstories have also been provided which truly adds great depth to any character – another good point that the author has kept in mind, clearly.
The stories and anecdotes that the author puts in, in the middle – the various references to the Mahabharata war and that world, basically, is intriguing and attracts the reader’s attention clearly, for so many of those facts and small details are unknown to the common reader and thus, interesting for them.
The editing and proof-corrections have been well done as well. The cover is nice to look at and really helps the reader to imagine how Ashwatthama may have looked like.
Verdict:
I quite enjoyed this book and as I rate it a 4/5 stars, I wait eagerly for the sequel to come out!
 
About the reviewer
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .
 
 
 

Tarikshir, Khayaal Patel, 2018


Title: Tarikshir
Author: Khayaal Patel
Publisher: Westland
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 332
Synopsis:
A small princely state in Rajasthan is the last bastion of resistance against the might of the British Empire. While unrest surrounding the sudden death of the king of Devangarh grows, young prince Rudra Pratap Chauhan prepares to ascend the throne.
But the kingdom is in turmoil. The Devangarh army is outnumbered and the British forces are closing in. To make matters worse, Rudra discovers the king’s death may not have been accidental after all. The strange appearance and disappearance of a mysterious hooded stranger and a series of ritualistic murders in which the bodies have been drained of blood, spread panic across the realm.
As Rudra struggles to manage his new responsibilities and investigate his father’s death, dark secrets will be uncovered that will disrupt life as he knows it.
My review:
I am so happy to have discovered this book. Tarikshir is a wonderful mixture of mythology, adventure, romance, and well as the supernatural.
The thriller element was fully explored in this book. From the very first page, I was hooked and once I had started reading it, I could not put it down. The pace just keeps on increasing in a steady manner and that is what I think really keeps the reader so addicted until the very end. It is full of action and adventure and the author has really done well with those scenes too. There is never a dull moment with this extremely engaging plot. The plot has so many wonderful twists and turns that the reader is continually spellbound under the magic weaved by the author through his words. The plot, in all, was really well paced, well planned- so much so that the end result was an unputdownable book.
The themes we see in this book – that of war, friendship, romance, family and kinship, along with those of the supernatural, deceit, etc., are well explored and the content surrounding them are also very engaging. No matter how many times I will write the word ‘engaging’ in this post, you will never understand it as long as you don’t read it. So please do. This is a wonderful book based on indian myths and legends. The historical fiction element is also there for the historical-fiction lovers like I, myself.
The characters were also well rounded and we see different facets through their words, and thoughts (of Rudra, especially). We see the queen mother as a peace-loving woman, as a queen who loves her subjects, a disillusioned wife and a supportive mother. We see Rudra as a son who like every other son wants to please his father, as a man caught between following his father or leading on his own, his feelings for Nafisa. The other characters also play very important roles in the novel and everyone’s actions are either a result of or stimulant of someone else’s action.
I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset https://rakhijayashankar.blogspot.in
Verdict:
Tarikshir is a book I am truly happy to have picked up and I am very eager to get my hands on the sequel as well. I rate this a 4/5 stars and definitely recommend it to all.

The Conqueror, Aditya Iyengar, 2018

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Publishers: Hachette publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
Kingdoms are built by men. Legacies are built by emperors.
It is 1025 AD. The mighty Chola empire that controls much of southern Bharatvarsha is helmed by Emperor Rajendra Chola I – a man as enigmatic as his kingdom is renowned. Known for his might and vision, he has now set his sights upon the southern seas, governed by the powerful Srivijaya empire.
But his victories also bring forth stories of those affected by his ambition. Of an unnamed princess forced to fend for herself among enemies after everything she has ever known is destroyed by the ravaging Chola forces. Of Maharaja Sangrama, captive in an alien land, who is torn between his enmity tempered by an unusual friendship with the elusive Rajendra Chola and his fierce determination to return to his kingdom.
Told through the eyes of a prisoner of war and a princess without a kingdom, The Conqueror is a magnificent narrative – of war and conquest, of loss and death, of kingship and legacy.
My review:
The Conqueror is the second Indian historical book that I have read in August and I am not disappointed. The author has done well in mingling history with romance, friendship, war and the human spirit that rages on even in the face of hardships.
The beginning was quite exciting and reading historical accounts is a favourite pastime of mine and as such, it was a delight. Moreover, even though some bits have been fictionalized, the way the author has tried to bring to life the way of life of these people is commendable. We come to know so much about their daily activities, the parleys between the different ministers, war, and in general the workings of a kingdom.
The plot was well written- from the beginning to the end, the author weaves a lovely tale, the ends of which are comfortably wrapped up towards the end. Nonetheless, I hope for a sequel. The two different point of views provided in the first person are very contrasting, yet so very similar in the situation of both the people as they are displaced from their world. However, felt the story a bit dragging and slow paced towards the middle, but the author again commendably picks it up soon.
The characters are again very diverse and yet very inspiring. Inspiring because they had faced various hardships and had come out only stronger than ever before. It is really nice to read about the indomitable human spirit that refuses to break in the face of adversity. Their developments are also evident- they grow mentally and emotionally to reach the apex of their beings.
The themes of war, hardships, survival, friendship, love, family, and diplomacy abound in this book and provide bittersweet relief to the readers, with completely satisfaction as the story finally ends. This was a really nice read for sure.
Verdict:
The Conqueror was a really good read and fans of historical fiction should definitely give it a read. I rate it a 4/5 stars and truly recommend it to all.

Chanakya: The Legend Begins (Itihasa Series Book 1), Ashok K. Banker, 2018

(Previously published at https://indiabookstagram.com/housenika/chanakya-the-legend-begins-itihasa-series-book-1-ashok-k-banker-2019/ )
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Title: Chanakya: The Legend Begins
Author: Ashok K. Banker
Publishers: Westland Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 156
Genre: Historical Fiction
 
Synopsis:
Jurist, war strategist, kingmaker. Master administrator. Author of the Arthashastra. But before the legend, there was the boy: Vishnu Gupta.
Pataliputra, capital of the great Nanda empire, is teeming with crime and corruption. Granted unlimited authority by the hedonistic emperor Mahapadma Nanda, evil mastermind Maha-amatya Kartikeya has the city in a vice-like grip.
But another name bubbles up through the chaos; there is talk of a young genius, Vishnu Gupta. When the Maha-amatya investigates the rumours, he recognises a future rival in the boy. He is determined to destroy this competition from the roots – family and all. Vishnu must gather all his wits and his formidable knowledge to protect everything he holds dear. The holy scriptures, his brilliant interpretations of the Vedas and the power of his unmatched mind: these are the only tools he has against the might of the most powerful man in the empire.
Epic storyteller Ashok K. Banker imagines the life and formative years of India’s greatest genius, a man whose influence persists down the ages. In this first instalment of a thrilling trilogy, he recreates Chanakya’s early struggles and triumphs.
 My Review:
Never having read about Chanakya before, apart from the basics in history textbooks, I was eager to pick up this book and I am so very glad I didn’t wait any longer. Chanakya: The Legend Begins, is a well-written historical fiction book that gripped me from the very first pages. It’s not long either and so I finished it under 3 hours, and I wasn’t even reading it continuously.
The plot was well-made and I feel that it will prove a good foundation for the upcoming sequels in the trilogy. The events were all well-paced and the string of connection which led one to the other, was also well held. The pacing we see was good without any rushing and it proves just as well.
The characters are all worth noticing- whether they are good or bad. In Chanakya, or Vishnu Gupta, as he was earlier known, we see s mere child, striving to be the best among people seniors to him by decades. His drive and eagerness to learn for- the thirst for knowledge, and also his intellect leave a lot to be desired in the reader. And justly so. I am eager to read more about the prodigy. In the cunning Prime Minister, Maha-amatya Kartikeya, we can also notice the shining intellect and thirst for power. In some ways, he and Chanakya are no doubt, very alike. I also feel that Chandra will play a bigger role in things to come.
The writing style was also good and the editing well done. I commend the writer for starting this exciting series and admit that I am now committed to finding out what happens next.
Verdict:
I genuinely loved the book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. Will definitely pick it up again just before the release of the second part, so that I am all refreshed and ready to delve into the politics of Magadha.

Agniputr, Vadhan, 2016

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Publishers: Bloomsbury
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Mythological
Synopsis:
When ace lawyer, Raghuram Surya, received an order of requisition from the Government of India for his ancestral castle, he was unaware of the Sutram beneath it or his own legacy.
He will have to choose between the world’s end or his own.
Before long, the lawyer takes on India’s most powerful politician, Kiromal, a man utterly obsessed with power. Kiromal and his sinister Tantric advisor intend to use the evil beneath the castle to play God.
Raghuram finds an ally in Sheila, a scientist who is tasked to investigate the Sutram. Using Quantum science to interpret a Vedic verse, they have to unravel the secrets of creation to stop the destruction. Through it all, they have to be one step ahead of Kiromal just to stay alive.
Now is the time of final reckoning. Will Kiromal harness the evil to rule the world?
Or will the Sutram break free to eradicate the planet?
Or, are Raghuram and Sheila merely pawns in an even deadlier game?
My review:
Agniputr was a completely riveting read, and I finished it in one day. The author has doen a great job with the book, beautifully combining the thriller as well as the fantasy/mythological elements. I read this book as a part of the #indiabookstagramreadathon under Prompt 1, where one has to read a fantasy/mythological book.
The plot was well planned and flowed beautifully, and although I found the first bit a little slow, I loved the overall effect. The themes of mythology, friendship, kinship etc. were well explored. The love angle was, however, a sore point for me. The romance between the two lovers seemed sudden with an abrupt beginning.
The characters were all also nicely portrayed—displaying all human emotions and feelings. The author has clearly given his time to the foundations of the various characters in here. I especially liked the cunning of Govind as well as Raghuram, and found both of them worth the awe.
The writing style was beautiful and cohesive and the tone was lilting and I personally found it gripping enough for me to finish it in one day itself. The editing was done well and I couldn’t find any grammatical errors.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 4/5 stars and will definitely recommend it to others.

Sita: Warrior of Mithila, Amish Tripathi, 2017


I loved Scion of Ikshvaku so much that immediately after finishing it, I picked up Sita. It was a good enough read, but I do prefer the first book over this. I gave this book a 4/5 stars.
This book, like most of you already know, covers Sita’s journey and it converges with Book 1 at the swayamvar for which Ram is deceptively brought to Mithila by the cunning Vishwamitra. This book also clears a few doubts we may have had regarding the mysterious characters we were introduced to in the previous one.
Sita is an indomitable character and a round one at that. Her raging temper is something that is perhaps never seen in young princesses, or girls belonging to the nobility, whether adopted or biological. This fact in itself lends a certain originality to her character; she is more real than any prim and proper princess- she has a fighting spirit. She is beautiful and brave and the Prime Minister of Mithila! She is intelligent, pragmatic and tactful, and we see how wonderfully she complements Ram. (Fun fact: Sita is older than Ram by 5 years in this book. It must be noted that I have no idea whether it is so, in the epic itself, or not).
There are other characters as well like Samichi who is Sita’s right-hand woman and also the Police and Protocol Chief. She is a strong character in herself- a formidable one at that and that fact that she was from the slums meant everybody respected the hard work she had put in to reach the high post she was in. We also see Queen Sunaina, Sita’s adopted mother and King Janak’s wife. She too is a bold and kind character and it is from her that Sita inherited her burning fighting spirit.
However, the fact that stopped me from giving it a solid 5/5 stars, unlike its predecessor was that it simply felt repetitive in so many parts. I know that it is inevitable since the events in the book are taking place simultaneously with that of Book 1. However, it was a thing I did not like. The story was good overall, the characters enthralling and the plot ensnaring, however structure that the author adopted to write this story is not something I am a fan of.
I am looking forward to the third book in the series i.e. Ravan, which will converge with the other two, mainly with Sita’s kidnapping, apart from possibly the battle at Karachapa, and Sita’s swayamvar.

Scion of Ikshvaku, Amish Tripathi, 2015

So recently, I completed reading this book and I give it a solid 5/5 stars.

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It was so very realistic and corroborated by many believable facts, that at times I forgot that it was just a fiction. This is my first Amish Tripathi book and I must say that I have been enamoured by his style of writing. The narrative is compelling and just simply forces you to look deep into the recesses of your mind and soul. The attention he has given to detail is perfect and in the words of First City, ‘…one must congratulate Amish on reintroducing Hindu mythology to the youth of this country’.
The plot is exquisite and the characters are round and real in all aspects. I have never really liked Ram but despite that, I loved his character in this book. It is true that his law-abiding nature was perhaps his hamartia; although not quite, since he does go to heaven in the end, I suppose. This is a very close retelling of the Ramayana, fictionalized no doubt, but all the very more interesting for it.
It has given me a fresh perspective of the instances that might have been, apart from all the stories we have been told by our parents/grandparents. The women in this book are shown as very intelligent and self-dependent ones, which I see has become a trend in modern day retellings and all for the better I feel. Nonetheless, Sita being shown as the Prime Minister of her kingdom is quite an empowering fact in itself. She is not quite the damsel-in-distress we have often thought her to be. The bonding between the brothers is also beautifully shown with the occasional expected silly talks and jokes.
We also see the hatred that can arise in a person because of particular instances that may have happened in his past/childhood. For example, we have Ram who is blamed because he was born on the very day his father lost the battle (his first ever loss) at Karachapa to Ravan, the king of Lanka and also a very good trader.
The politics, I feel, is the most attractive feature in this book, apart from the Ram-Sita scenes, of course. Vishwamitra and Vashishtha are no doubt master players in this whole situation and the introduction of the Vayuputras and Malayaputras just adds more spice to the stew. I have not read the Shiva trilogy before this like I have already stated in the beginning, and as such, it was a bit difficult for me to catch hold of the histories and agendas of these two sections. For this matter though, I would definitely suggest reading that trilogy before reading the Ram Chandra series since that series comes chronologically before this one as well as being the first in publication orders as well.
If you want to gain a fresh new perspective on the Ramayana then I would definitely recommend you to read this amazing work and you will be delighted to know that the sequel follows Sita and also converges with this book towards the end. I have personally started reading the sequel and I’m loving it. Definitely, a must-read if you would like a new point of view for this great epic, keeping in mind that this is not the actual story but simply a fictionalized retelling to which the author has added a few of his own twists and turns.