Indian mythology for me is reminiscent of all that I have read in the Amar Chitra Katha comics. The two Indian epics I know well are due to the good old television serials – Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayana’ and B.R.Chopra’s magnum opus ‘Mahabharata’. Then after decades came Indian author Amish Tripathi and his Shiva trilogy – ‘The immortals of Meluha’, ‘The secret of the Nagas’ and ‘The oath of the Vayuputras’. This series had me engrossed and catapulted me into a similar world of fantasy. The history and geography of my country never seemed so appealing as a student back in school days. So when he was out with his first book of the Ram Chandra series, I wanted to relive the magic of mythology that he had wonderfully introduced.
The ‘Scion of Ikshvaku’ had a few surprise elements in store for me. I wasn’t prepared to read a slightly different version from my (limited) knowledge of the epic. Hence, some bits of the storyline was a revelation – the long held resentment of the King against his son, Manthara being a rich, shrewd businesswoman, ‘Nirbhaya’ like twist in the plot and Sita meeting Rama before her ‘Swayamvar’.
What stood out for me was the way in which the author reveals the emotions that make his characters come alive. Ram’s subdued pain that he has learnt to internalize is well written. So also the essence of his character comes out strongly in his adherence to his ‘dharma’ and law. The seething undercurrents between the queens in winning their husband’s attention were easily overlooked behind their costumes and jewellery on TV. The love and loyalty between the brothers evokes a sense of pride. The highlight for me was the introduction of Sita – a strong, feisty woman in all righteousness of an honoured princess. So much tougher from the timid, docile wife image that was showcased earlier. Even the Vishnu incarnate finds instant respect for her. Her beautiful and resilient form which is illustrated in book 2 ‘Sita –Warrior of Mithila’, makes you want to pick the book for the cover!
What I thought didn’t work in book 1 was the modern day slang-like language at some places, which just didn’t fit into the times this story is set. The pace and storyline does slack in patches. It doesn’t leave you in as much wonder as the Shiva trilogy did. Yet the author succeeds in weaving the different threads of the script together, well enough to set the stage for the upcoming sequels.
My rating: 3/5.
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