BOOK REVIEW: VIKRAMADITYA VEERGATHA BOOK 1 THE GUARDIANS OF THE HALAHALA

Book: Vikramaditya Veergatha Book 1 The Guardians of the Halahala

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Author: Shatrujeet Nath

Genre: Mythological Fiction

Published by: Jaico Books

Number of pages: 408 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I was happy to read and review this book as I enjoy reading mythology, especially Hindu mythology.

The story begins with the Churning of the Ocean by the devas and the asuras. A stone is discovered which is believed to contain the Elixir. However, it turns out to contain the HalaHala, a poison that could destroy all of Creation. It is decided to take the poison to Shiva, the Omniscient One, as he is the only force capable of destroying the HalaHala.

The story moves forward in time to the reign of Vikramaditya who is just about to perform a “rajasuya yajna”. The Hunas who had been vanquished resurface with the warning that they intend to take back all of Sindhuvarta.

Vikramaditya is visited by a ‘sadhu’ who turns out to be none other than Lord Shiva, the Omniscient One. He is entrusted by the Lord with a dagger that contains a portion of the HalaHala and is asked to safeguard it.

Naturally the devas and the asuras come to know that Vikramaditya is in possession of the dagger and both sides want it. Vikramaditya, his Council of Nine and the capital of Ujjayini have to suffer various attacks by the devas and asuras respectively. The question is how long will they be able to withstand these attacks? The threat of the Hunas is still lurking on the horizon.

The characters in the story are very well depicted and the author brings the story to an ending that leaves the reader eagerly awaiting the sequel. Do read the book if you enjoy reading mythology. I recommend ‘The Guardians of the HalaHala’ to readers as enjoyable, interesting and informative.

BOOK REVIEW: ASHOK AND THE NINE UNKNOWN

Book: Ashok and the Nine Unknown

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Author: Anshul Dupare

Genre: Mythology, Fiction, Historical fiction

Published by: Rupa Publications

Number of pages: 224 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Emperor Ashok of the Maurya dynasty of course is one of the greatest kings in Indian history.

The story begins just after the end of the war of Kalinga. Ashok is on the battlefield feeling very guilty about the death and destruction caused by him, when he comes across a mortally wounded Kalingan soldier who has lost both his arms and an eye. The soldier curses Ashok and falls into the river.

Ashok is a changed man after the war and makes sincere attempts to improve the welfare of his people. The wounded soldier Amartya is rescued and revived by his brother Vatsal.

After meeting Ashok, Amartya leaves for Mayong, a strange land of magic.

Ashok decides to form a secret society and entrusts his chief minister Radhagupta with the task of finding nine experts in different fields.

In Mayong, Amartya has completely recovered from his injuries and has now gained a lot of knowledge about the secrets of Mayong. The magical Mayong comes under attack by unscrupulous people who want to learn the secrets of Mayong. They attack the city with dragons but the people of Mayong try their best to overcome them.

In addition to the secret society formed by Ashok, there is yet another secret society that has a hidden agenda.

What is the connection between Ashok and the lost city of Atlantis? What secrets does the Sphinx of Egypt hold? What is the connection between Ashok and Amartya? These are just some of the questions raised by the end of the story.

I believe that the author is planning to take the story forward in a sequel. I for one, am awaiting the sequel in order to get the answers to the questions raised. “Ashok and the Nine Unknown”, is a story that will certainly appeal to readers.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: VANARA THE LEGEND OF BAALI, SUGREEVA AND TARA

Book: Vanara-The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara

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Author: Anand Neelakantan

Genre: Mythological Fiction

Published by: Penguin Books

Number of pages: 309 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I was happy to read and review this book as I enjoy reading mythology, especially Hindu mythology. Also, it made a refreshing change from the recent novels that I have read.

Before I started reading the book, I realised that I did not know much about Baali or Sugreeva beyond what stories I had read based on the Ramayana. I knew practically nothing about Tara.

The book begins with a detailed introduction by the author who shares various stories about the births of Baali and Sugreeva. The author also explains how myths and stories have evolved over generations.

The story begins with Baali and Sugreeva, the two brothers being raised in the ashram of Sage Gautama. As the brothers belong to the tribe of the Vanaras or the Vana Naras, they are shunned as monkeys and made to do the menial work of the ashram.

Sugreeva witnesses Ahalya, the wife of Sage Gautama, committing adultery with Lord Indra, which sparks off a series of incidents that force the brothers to run away from the ashram and seek refuge in the forest.

The brothers wish to reunite with their tribe, the Vana Naras but are not easily accepted by the tribe. It is only the eunuch Riksarajas, who takes in the brothers and becomes an adoptive father to them. He takes them to Mahabali, the Asura emperor to study.

Meanwhile, an interesting love triangle starts between the brothers and Tara, the beautiful daughter of Sushena, the Vaidya of the Vana Naras. This tension between the three of them continues throughout the story.

Baali with the help of Sugreeva and Tara establishes the city of Kishkinda and attempts to restore the pride of the Vana Naras.

The circumstances that lead to the rift between the brothers which results in Sugreeva seeking out Rama and Lakshmana and Baali’s death, are extremely fascinating to read.

The characters in the story are portrayed wonderfully: Baali as the alpha male, Sugreeva as the younger brother with a sly streak, Tara who is an extremely capable woman and even Hanuman, Ravana, Rama and Lakshmana.

Do read the book if you enjoy reading mythology. I recommend ‘Vanara-The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara’ to readers as enjoyable, interesting and informative.

BOOK REVIEW: A FRIEND LIKE KARNA

Book: A Friend Like Karna

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Author: Madhav Thapar

Genre: Thriller, Fiction

Published by: Notion Press

Number of pages: 161 pages

My Rating: 5/5

MY REVIEW: I was kindly provided with a copy of this book by the author Madhav Thapar.

The story is set in modern times but readers familiar with the Indian epic The Mahabharata can certainly draw the analogy between the epic and this thriller.

The story is about two of India’s elite families, the Desais and the Sahnis. Veer Singhi, the central character works for Pranav Desai, a media baron and his spoiled son Jay. Veer considers Pranav Desai to be his godfather and benefactor and is extremely loyal to him and Jay.

On the other side, the Sahni family comprises of Pran Sahni, his widowed daughter Aditi, her three sons Mridul, Vidit and Varun as well as Aditi’s maternal uncle Vidur.

The Sahnis decide to take out a contract on Pranav Desai which is partially successful. Veer on behalf of the Desais, decides to retaliate.

The story has all the ingredients of a potboiler with suspense, passion and betrayal all being part of the story. The lovely Nisha Kapoor adds to the glamour of the plot and plays an important role as she is engaged to Vidit and in love with Veer.

The story races to a climax with Veer’s parentage being part of the mystery. I just wish that the ending was different!

A Friend Like Karna is an extremely enjoyable suspense thriller and I recommend it to readers.

BOOK REVIEW: ASHWATTHAMA’S REDEMPTION THE RISE OF DANDAK

Book: Ashwatthama’s Redemption The Rise of Dandak

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Author: Gunjan Porwal

Genre: Mythology, Fiction

Published by: Om Books International

Number of pages: 263 pages

My Rating: 5/5

MY REVIEW: The author Gunjan Porwal provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ashwatthama of course is a well-known figure in Indian mythology. A great warrior and an immortal, he is remembered for being cursed by Lord Krishna.

The story is set in the time period 100 years after the Kurukshetra War. Ashwatthama, who has been reduced to a shadow of his former self is living the life of a nomad in the forest. At the same time, strange occurrences are taking place at the southern border of the kingdom of Avanti. This leads King Vikramsena, the king of Surparaka, a kingdom in the Western Ghats and Rana, the prince of Avanti to team up. They suspect that the evil sorcerer Dandak is in the process of getting resurrected. Only a divine weapon can kill Dandak.

Accordingly, Vikram, Rana and Ashwatthama, embark on a quest to the mountains to retrieve the Kodanda, the bow of Lord Rama that killed Ravana.

Their quest takes them through the kingdom of Hastinapur, where they are welcomed by Janamejaya, the great grandson of the Pandavas. The three warriors are joined on their quest by Urmila, the princess of Indraprastha and the great granddaughter of Karna.

Their quest is fraught with many dangers. Though they manage to retrieve the Kodanda, this is just the beginning of their troubles as the “asuras” are on the attack. Will Ashwatthama and his friends be able to stop the rise of Dandak?

The action in the book is extremely fast-paced. The entire story is littered with many fascinating little-known facts and details about the Kurukshetra War.

I highly recommend “Ashwatthama’s Redemption”, as an extremely interesting story that has left me awaiting the sequel!

BOOK REVIEW: KAIKEYI-THE MOTHER OF A GOD

Book: Kaikeyi-The Mother of a God

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Author: Suresh Kala

Genre: Mythological Fiction

Published by: Inven Tech

Number of pages: 353 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: The author Mr. Suresh Kala provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I was happy to read and review this book as I enjoy reading mythology, especially Hindu mythology. Also, it made a refreshing change from the recent novels that I have read.

The story is about Kaikeyi, the queen of King Dashrath and the stepmother of Lord Rama. Kaikeyi has always been depicted as an evil figure in Hindu mythology as it was at her behest that Lord Rama was sent into exile for fourteen years.

The story is told from Kaikeyi’s perspective and brings a whole new twist to the story of Lord Rama. We read about Kaikeyi’s childhood and upbringing, the circumstances that led to her marriage to King Dashrath and the thought process and reasoning that led Kaikeyi to ask her husband to send Lord Rama into exile.

Kaikeyi has been portrayed as a warrior princess and then a queen who was an extremely clever war strategist. Though she was not Lord Rama’s birth mother, she played an active role in his upbringing and grooming to be the future king of Ayodhya.

I loved the author’s portrayal of Kaikeyi as a feminist and a strong, independent woman. The story skilfully builds up the suspense and leads to Kaikeyi’s revelation of her motives behind her actions.

Do read the book if you enjoy reading mythology. I recommend it to readers as enjoyable, interesting and informative.

BOOK REVIEW: TARIKSHIR

Book: Tarikshir

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Author: Khayaal Patel

Genre: Thriller, Fiction

Published by: Westland Books

Number of pages: 332 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The story begins on an interesting note describing the chamber of Ravan, after he was killed by Lord Rama. A greedy gibbon, Valikesh, is in the search of spoils from Ravan’s chamber and finds a gem with mysterious powers that sends Valikesh to his doom.

The story moves forward in time to the year 1826 to British ruled India and the kingdom of Devangarh that is stubbornly holding out against the British. The kingdom is ruled by Raja Ravindra who is determined not to surrender to the British.

Rudra, the crown prince, is just sixteen years old and suddenly finds himself the king of Devangarh when his father is killed in a skirmish against the British. Strange deaths and even stranger characters keep popping up in the story as Rudra struggles to come to terms with his new position and his father’s death.

Are the Red Tigers on the side of the Rajputs or not? Who is the strange hooded figure that Rudra keeps seeing? Can Rudra trust Shen-Zou and Duryadutta? Who are the Sons of Hanuman? What powers does his father’s gem have?

These are just some of the questions that Rudra grapples with as events speed up and flesh eating zombies become a great danger. Can Rudra stop the zombies as well as the Tarikshir from being unleashed? Does the answer lie in his grandfather’s diary or elsewhere?

‘Tarikshir’ is a fast-paced thriller filled with constant action. The ending is a real bolt from the blue and leaves behind the probability of a sequel. I recommend ‘Tarikshir’ to readers as a real page-turner of a novel!