Tag Archives: Mythology

Book Review: Yama’s Lieutenant by Anuja Chandramouli

yamaThis is the fourth book by author Anuja Chandramouli and I’m on track with reading all of them courtesy the author.

And although I have read a few books in past 6 months but couldn’t get back to writing a review for them. The last review posted was also for the same author’s previous book “Shakti the divine feminine“.

Readers who have read my earlier reviews of the author’s work knows what my impression of author’s work is and which league of authors does I compare her with.

My review of her work is never in comparison with the Nagarkar’s and Shenoy’s of Indian new gen authors.

So the following review could be termed or interpreted as harsh but let me say that it I don’t mean to take anything away from the writing prowess of the author.

Rating

★★★ (3 out of 5)

The Storyline

The story begins where all hell has broken loose (literally) . The different inhabitants of hell governed by Yama are loose and want to create havoc on earth teaming up with Naganara, a necromancer. Joining him in his devious plans are hatakas and narakmayas.

The protagonist Agni Prakash who is trying to cope up with life after the death of his twin sister Varu is chosen by a silvery goddess to fight this devious plan as Yama’s lieutenant.

He gets the help of Yama’s danda, the power of fire and also the help of a woman with magical powers. His quest takes him to goddess Ganga where he asks for the girl who is to be Yama’s consort.

on the other hand, another plot written by Varu about a dysfunctional family of Yama and Yami continues.

How Agni (aided by others like Taravarsha, Minothi, etc.) help avoid the destruction and does he understands the manuscript left by his twin sister is depicted in the remaining book.

What I Think

First things first, the things that I dislike about this book:

  1. The cover image: – Could have done much better. The protagonist looks like an animated character. I would have never picked up this book from a bookstall with this cover image and title.
  2. The book title:- Again “Yama’s lieutenant” seriously?
  3. The protagonist:- Oh boy, Agni Prakash sounds like a name from 90s Hindi novels. At no point in the book, he was portrayed in a stronger light. Heroes are flawed and messed up, I get that but there should be some element of heroism to the character, some level of charisma, which is totally absent.
  4. The character names:- Some of them are difficult to even pronounce forget remembering them. Try some of these hatakas, Minothi, arakshas, Dharami,Ananthamma, Yatupava and more. By the end of the book I could only remember the names of a very few characters.
  5. The complicated and unnecessary usage of words to adorn the writing (examples: “When runaway emotions spewed forth like a bout of virulent diarrhoea..“, “..he was so myopic that he would have trouble finding his own butthole with both hands behind his back.” and more like this). A similar note I mentioned for her previous book as well.

Now you might be getting the impression that if so much is wrong why even 3 stars?

What I really like about the book is the author’s courage to take a plunge into writing a story so different and daring to be different than her earlier works. I always thought she would do good if she tries a different genre then mythology and although this is not a different genre altogether but it’s a pretty good attempt at fiction.

When you read it, you shall get a feeling that she is trying to create some sort of a Harry Potter work which remains with the audience and in Agni Prakash, she is trying to create a hero with whom she can write a series (which however I do not agree with).

It takes a master to understand the intricacies of mythology, build characters and weave a story around it. And that, the author has done remarkably well. There really is a story (if you like the blood and gore or not that’s different) and a decent one too. And where the book began between the love and connection of twins, Agni and Varu was actually quite nice.

There are also a few chapters or scenes such as about Sivagami Math which are good in pieces.

Last Words

The idea of the book is so powerful, the author has all the arsenals and talent to write a great story. When I sit and think after finishing this book I strongly feel this book could have been a game changer in the fiction world, if handled better.

Often writers do a mistake of telling the story they want to tell in the manner they want to tell without stopping and thinking for a while that are the readers getting the story in the same spirit as they want to tell it.

And this is what I think the undoing of this book is.

However, I recommend you give it a try and see for yourself if Yama’s Lieutenant tastes right to you.

 

 

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Book Review: Shakti The Divine Feminine by Anuja Chandramouli

IMG_20160116_111539_HDRI finished this book sometime back but couldn’t get to writing the review until now.

Shakti: The Feminine Divine by Anuja Chandramouli is the third book by the author after Arjuna saga of a pandava warriror prince and Kamadeva the god of desire. Luckily I have read and reviewed her earlier books as well. After I have finished reading this third book how I wish she would have stopped mythology right after Kamadeva and have taken a detour to another genre.

Rating

★★ (2 out of 5)

The Storyline

Shakti tells the story of devi that is known in Hindu mythology by different names such as Durga, Kali, Parvati, etc.

The story starts with the Shakti’s first avatar (or birth) as ‘Usas’ where she is humiliated and killed by devas lead by jealousy of Indra’s wife Sachi for her ‘free’ lifestyle. She gets a rebirth in  a much stronger avatar.

There are other aligned stories that continue along with this where Devas under the leadership of Indra keeps on fighting Asuras with the aid of Vishnu and Shiva to save Amravati. And in the process Indra does many wrongs prodded every time by her wife.

The story also narrates how the cult of Devi aka Shakti grows among divine and human alike. And how Shakti also plays other roles such as Parvati with Shiva and better half of Vishnu as well. Both Shiva and Vishnu understand Shakti and her powers and the wrath that she can bring.

When Asura Mahisha is undefeated and creates havoc then Shakti adorns the avatar of Kali and kills Mahisha and company. Also captures Indra to deal with his wrong doings.

What I Think

When I saw the cover of the book and the title I was very intrigued (more than I was with her previous book Kamadeva). But unfortunately this turned out to be a big let down. The female character Shakti is probably the most revered and considered most powerful in Hindu mythology. And I was very much interested to find out what new author brings to this character as she has a flair of treating these mythological characters differently then what we have been reading about them since ages.

Author in her note in the beginning makes it clear that don’t fret about what is real and what is fiction in the book and that gives her the liberty to weave the story to her liking and that’s what I thought was very encouraging for me as a reader and thought I would in for a treat.

But she couldn’t take the story very far. The story seemed pretty boring to me there are stories within stories and then unnecessary stories and at times you don’t even know what this book is about, as Shakti is lost somewhere in between.

There were just so many shades of Shakti that were mentioned as Usas, Kali, Parvati, etc. that in the end it was all very confusing as to how the author wants to portray the protagonist.

To top it all this was the  difficult language that the book is written in. I have praised Anuja’s writing in the past but how Shakti is written makes me rethink about all her previous books. It seems that the author has deliberately tried to write difficult, unheard of English words just to showcase her mastery over the language. On top of that there are such absurd conversations and sentences that just evoked neutral or yucks (for the writing) emotions. Once such example from the book:

“When he drew back the eyelids, Kali was squatting in front of him, it seemed, to take a dump.”

An average reader would not be able to finish reading this book.

The beauty of good writing is in it’s simplicity and that has been forgotten by several new gen authors. They think that adorning the writing with never heard of words is going to make them look like a ‘better’ and more ‘learned’ writer, which is totally wrong.

I could go on and on about how wrong the book is and what a lost opportunity it has been for the author. Shakti could have been written in a much better way and you could have written volumes without the reader getting bored.

Last Words

The author looked promising to me in her first two books but this book has been a let down to me as reader and admirer of her earlier works. In the earlier review of Kamadeva also I mentioned that I would rather see her write a book of different genre. But yes if the writing is going to be so complicated and indecipherable then none of the books can succeed.

But that’s just my view if you are interested in mythology or have read and liked Anuja Chandramouli before go give Shakti: The Feminine Divine a try may be you will like it.

You can buy this book at low price from Amazon.in

 

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Book Review: Kamadeva The God of Desire by Anuja Chandramouli

kamadevaThere are books which you pick up by their cover design and Kamadeva The God of Desire by Anuja Chandramouli is one such book. First the title is interesting, I haven’t really seen any books on Kamadeva and then the cover design is very nice.

This is the second book by the author, I read and reviewed the first one around a year back titled Arjuna Sagar of a Pandava  Warrior-Prince.

Rating

★★★★ (4 out of 5)

The Storyline

The story is about Kamadeva who is considered the god of desire in Hindu Mythology. It traces the incidents  where Bramha’s lust gives birth to Kamadeva and upon his birth itself how he is cursed to meet his death by the destroyer, Shiva.

He is wielding the sugarcane bow and flower-tipped arrows and he is powerful enough to create desire in any human or deva’s heart. He is supported in his adventures by his insanely beautiful wife Rati. Together they stay in Amravati and learn and later teach different art forms like dance, love-making, sword fight etc. The relationship of Kamadeva with his dad Bramha is not so cool. However his bonding with Indra is great and both have good time in Amravati with booze, music and hot girls (aka apsaras). However destiny plays its part, the curse takes effect and Kamadeva is reduced to ashes by Shiva when he tries to create desire in his heart for Parvati.

Kamadeva is reborn in human form as Krishna’s son Pradumnya and Rati as Mayawati the wife of an Asura king. Both meet again after several adventures and sexual revelries and many such other adventures follows during his life time.

What I Think

The story of Kamadeva is one that I haven’t really heard in any mythology circles so I was intrigued. The story starts well and gives details of how the god of desire was born and what was he really like. Different traits of the protagonist are very well explained by the author. The difference between him and his father Bramha, he wanting to do something worthwhile with his life rather than just being a ‘pimp’, his undying love towards Rati, his deep-rooted friendship with Indra and Vasant and many other facets of his character.

Author Anuja Chandramouli’s writing has blossomed a lot more since her last book Arjuna. The writing is so good and so different that you will wonder that is this really the second book by the author. In her first book also I liked the writing a lot but this time around it is even better and so much more different which brings a freshness to the entire story telling.The author tells the story in the contemporary English rather than trying to burden it with unnecessary heavy and arcane words that take the juice out of the story.

The friendship between Indra and Kamadeva, his love for Rati, the lust of Bramha, Shambara’s love for Maya, the son and father tension between Bramha and Kamdeva, and so many more relationships and situations are so beautifully written. And while the story progresses it also deals with many issues such as females being used as a commodity by the male kind and more. However she also manages to keep the story witty.

At so many places in the book the author uses, to what it may look like to some ‘crude’ language but never crosses the boundary. It appeared to me at certain places that the author is trying to test the limits, challenge our society and its deep-rooted beliefs in our gods and goddesses.

She puts them on equal platform to and in some cases worse than the mortals. Lust, deceit, debauchery, extra marital affairs, polygamy, adultery, friendship all the colors can be seen in this story and if you are a logical person you might start to question the actions of gods and goddesses whom you worship (which I always do whenever I read more about our gods and goddesses, but that’s another discussion for another day).

The biggest problem in the book is that there are just so many stories within one story of Kamadeva so much that many a times you just lose track of the main story. So many characters, devas, asuras, trinity, rishis, etc. cloud the entire story.

The story reads good in the first half but in the second half when Kamadeva is reborn as Pradumnya the story just drags on with so many subplots and sub-stories that it really gets boring. The book I think is 100 pages too long. Either the story had to be succinct to be covered within 250 pages or should have been broken into two volumes.

Including the stories of Krishna, Shiva, Indra, Kamsa, Jarasandh, Pandavas et al. is a little too much to chew in one book even if you devote 2 lines to each and moreover no one wants to read about them any more.

But that’s the only complain I have with this book other than that as I mentioned earlier the author has done a fantastic job with the topic, research and specially the writing.

Last Words

Anuja Chandramouli is slowly climbing up the ladder in my favorite Indian authors list. The style in which she has written this book, I just want to say Bravo!.

If you are a mythology fan I would very much recommend you to read you Kamadeva The God of Desire with a caveat that you should have the patience to read through some of the stories that you have already read umpteen times.

With her writing skills, some day I would very much like to see the author writing a work of fiction.

You can buy this book at low price from Amazon.in

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Review: Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince

arjuna-saga-of-a-pandava-warrior-prince The book this week was ARJUNA Saga Of A Pandava Warrior-Prince: 1 by Anuja Chandramouli published by LeadStart Corp.

Now I am a mythology guy, I like reading it a lot and my standards are that of “Ashok Banker” the master of mythology. So when I picked up this book I wasn’t sure how yet another mythology book in the market will turn out to be (I have dared not to pick so many other floating which deals in this genre for the fear of them not meeting the standards). Although one thing that I am pretty happy about is that Indian mythology is in vogue. We have millions of brilliant tales to tell to the world and each story leaves us with some or the other lesson in life.

As soon as I started with the book the first few pages itself impressed me a lot and I was excited in the anticipation of what all the book has in store for me.

Let me first and foremost congratulate the author Anuja Chandramouli on this remarkable writing. Bravo!! Retelling an epic is a herculean task and when that epic is Mahabharata it’s all the more difficult. Every Indian has heard or read about stories of Mahabharata and we all have some preconceived notions whenever the tales of Mahabharata are retold. To balance it out and present the facts as it is, is a very big task much bigger than any Da Vinci code.

The author has based the book on a very sound research and makes the book so easy to read. Whatever praises I heap on the author would not be enough considering that it is her debut novel. I can just wonder what she will produce in future.

Now back to the book, as I mentioned the book is very well written and as simple as it can be made. The story is essentially of Mahabharata and except for a few incidences I found nothing new in the story and unfortunately that is its undoing too.

When I first read the title of the book and saw the cover (good work their too) I was under the impression that it would primarily be Arjuna’s story or Mahabharata from Arjuna’s perspective but unfortunately it is not so. It is Mahabharata retold and there are very few stories about Arjuna that are new (or new to me at least). The latter half of the book talks so much about Krishna that it sometimes appear that the book is about Krishna. Similar problems figure at different places within the book and many times you would wonder where is Arjuna in all this?

Now this is where experience in writing novel comes in to play, which the author doesn’t have. How to break the story and what to focus on and what to leave are very important traits in an author. Now we all know that there are millions of stories in the Mahabharata and each character in itself can be written about in at least one book. A character like Krishna will require many volumes and still justice can’t be done.

The author tried to include a little bit of everyone’s story and that is where it all went wrong. I didn’t want to read Mahabharata again, I wanted to read about Arjuna- the greatest warrior the world has ever produced, his personality, his traits, his rights, his wrongs that are yet unknown.

And though the writing is technically very good and the book reads very easy, the author fails to stir emotions for the protagonist in reader’s heart and mind. I didn’t feel anything for Arjuna, no sorrow, no happiness, nothing at all. It fails for a reader like me. You as an author need to make me feel it, make me happy, sad, laugh with the characters.

But yes I am not taking away any credit for retelling the Mahabharata in such a simple way and to concise it in 350 odd pages. For a reader who has no or little knowledge about Mahabharata, ARJUNA Saga Of A Pandava Warrior-Prince: 1 is an excellent book. And I will definitely look forward to the author’s future books.

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Review: Rage of Jarasandha

ImageIt has been sometime since I posted a review. Things have been quite hectic (and chaotic) with several things going at one time. Work, Travel, some other commitments, so the book reading was going slow.

But  this week I have been able to complete the book I started after the Casual Vacancy.

The book this week was “Rage of Jarasandha”, 5th Book of Krishna Coriolis by Ashok Banker.

The book starts from the point where “Lord of Mathura” ends, Kamsa is killed by Krishna and  king Ugrasena is reinstated and there is jubilation all around Mathura and the entire Yadava nation.

However at this point Jarasandha, King of Magadha and Kamsa’s Father-in-law attacks Mathura with the biggest assembled army ever. At this point Krishna and Balrama take it upon themselves to save Mathura and in their real forms (of god) fights and wipes out the entire army of Jarasandha. But Jarasandha has a bigger plan and the plot thickens but essentially ends at that.

Compared to the rest of the volumes of Krishna Coriolis this one seemed a little slow and not much is covered in this book, however the book is good 300 odd pages.

The necessity of breaking the entire Krishna story into volumes sometimes robs the books of the necessary pace and fill it up with unnecessary details (which can be done without in case it was one book). However I understand the author’s dilemma of beginning and finishing every volume so that it can connect to the rest of the series yet is able to stand on it’s own. But that sometimes clutter the regular readers with unnecessary and repeated information.

****SPOILER ALERT****

Last part where Jarasandha comes back with same army again and the Tuesday is relieved again even though Krishna and Balrama wipes out the army every time – that description is just too complicated.

How it is not a time travel but is also a sort of time travel that is not clearly or eloquently described. I find myself scratching the head same as Balrama in the book, it seems the conversation will only be understood by Jarasandha and Krishna and not by the readers. It sometimes translates into sort of science fiction (bad). You just end up reading for completeness sake.

There are several questions that will come to your mind when you read Krishna’s depiction and his acts in Krishna Coriolis (specially as a god) but most of the questions remain unanswered or only partially answered.

In those scenarios you can say for the first time I am less than satisfied by Banker, otherwise it’s a good read. 

Again the book needed to be fast paced and should have covered more material, it’s not necessary to have 10 volumes if it can be covered in 5 or 6.

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Review: Lord of Mathura

ImageLord of Mathura by Ashok Banker, the 4th in the Krishna Coriolis series was the book that I completed last week.
After I completed the earlier 3 books of the series, I was waiting for the remaining ones to come out and as soon as they did I grabbed them though it took sometime for me to read.

Lord of Mathura deals with the teenager Krishna and several incidences of trouble visiting vrindavan in forms of different demons being sent by Kamsa. Jarasandh suggests Kamsa to send his demons rather than going himself and Krishna manages to defeat each one of them.

The start of love between Krishna and Radha also finds a place in the book and in the end when everyone fails, Kamsa takes it on himself to kill the ‘Deliverer’ and calls him to Mathura, where in the end Krishna and Balram together defeats all the champions of Mathura and Krishna kills Kamsa by throwing him from high above the sky to the ground.

I like that Banker has kept the story crisp and tidy and unlike earlier books didn’t elongate any unnecessary scenes. A few well written scenes that I liked were when Krishna picks up ‘gowardhan parvat’ against wrath of Indra and where ‘swayam bhagwan’ gives ‘darshan’ to Akrur. Both chapters are beautifully written.

Ashok Banker brings alive the piousness and serenity of a ‘god’ (not just Krishna) through his words. Kudos to him.

A very well written book in the series. If you haven’t read it, I recommend reading the entire Krishna Coriolis.

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Review: The Krishna Key

I started the last week with a book which I was planning to read since a long time and I made some headway with that. But then in the middle of the week I received this book from Blogadda as part of their Book Review Program.

I didn’t like the last book that came to me (I posted the review here) so I was skeptical about this book too. But then as the review needs to go within 7 days of receiving the book I started nevertheless putting the other book on hold.

The book this week was “The Krishna Key” by Ashwin Sanghi. 

The one problem I have seen in literary world in India (probably it’s elsewhere too) that when a particular genre book succeeds then there is a flood of books of the same genre.

Now mythology is dominating the scene in Indian book market and every other month there is a new book on mythology coming out. Looks like suddenly Indian authors have awaken to the fact that India has a great history and Indian mythology can be used as good plots for the books.

So coming back to this book, when I saw this book I had the same impression that this is again one of the same sort of book with Krishna as the main character, with Krishna as a backdrop and I wasn’t too optimistic about the book. Nevertheless I liked the cover design and though I have never heard of the author before the book jacket said that author has 2 bestsellers before. That was encouraging at least. And so I began my journey with “The Krishna Key“..

And at the end of the journey if you ask me to describe this book in one sentence I would probably say it’s the India “Da Vinci Code” (remember the one by Dan Brown). And yes I am saying it in the most respectable manner. It is so much similar to that and yet so different (with the take on Krishna) .

I enjoyed the book thoroughly to say the least and though its a 460 pages read you rarely get bored or rarely are there any dull moments. It’s a mythological thriller and the pace of the book is good.

The story revolves around a professor Ravi Mohan Saini (remember Robert Langdon) and his student Priya Ratnani. The story begins with Saini’s friend Varshney who is an archaeologist getting murdered by a character called as Taarak Vakil upon a major ancient discovery and Saini being charged for his murder. Before getting murdered Varshney hands an ancient Seal to Saini and 3 other similar seals to 3 other friends. Slowly all the people having the seals start getting murdered and Saini and Priya are on the run from Police. Inspector Radhika (aka Sniffer Singh) with sub inspector Rathore is chasing them throughout the length and breadth of the country. Saini’s knowledge of history ensures him that Varshney was after a major discovery known as Krishna Key. What is the Krishna Key? Where is it? and Why are people getting murdered for it? Who else is behind it? All these questions gets answered in the book.

Now the good points about the book as I mentioned earlier is it’s fast paced thriller, characters are well written and when you read the book you can understand how much research the author has done to write this. I won’t compare him to Dan Brown but the author has done a fantastic job with this book and I for sure am interested in his earlier books.

There are some parts where I thought some improvement could have been done, for example the character of Sir Khan who was a petty thief turned an antiquities collector and his knowledge on history and physics is something difficult to digest and then at the end there is no mention of him at all. What was Mataji really after? What was the motive of the murders? What was the relevance of Kalki Avatar (there had to be much more to it)?  these and a few other questions remained unanswered. And the main character of Saini needs to be strong, throughout the book he keeps on getting caught unawares by Mataji and Taarak. And I would say the ending was not that polished or rather it was tepid (Philosopher’s stone. really?).

But all in all a good book and I am delighted to read such books from Indian authors. It definitely places us in the big league with those American novelists.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

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