Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: Scion of Ikshvaku (Ram Chandra Series #1) by Amish

Title and Author: Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish
No. of Pages: 376
Series: Ram Chandra Series, Book 1
Publication Date: Westland Limited (22 June 2015)
Genre: Indian Writing, Indian Mythology Retelling, Fiction, Series
Language: English

Book Review:
Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish retells the story of Ram Chandra of Ayodhaya whom we worship as God. Having read the Ramayan that tells the story of Ram, I was very excited about this book. Curious to know how Amish would tell the epic tale of a hero who is brave, courageous, honourable and above all a ruler whose rule is still believed to be the best and ideal situation for any kingdom, I am terribly let down by this book.
Nowhere does the author mention that the book is a complete fiction and believe me it is just that. Fiction! 

Starting from the cover, the first thing that struck me as odd was the helicopter like object shown on the cover. Later in the book, I came to know that it is supposed to be the Pushpak Viman. Never did I know that this mythological flying ship had copter blades! What is the author thinking? The story took place in a past time when there were no cars and certainly no helicopters. As far as I know and have read, the "Pushpak Viman" was chariot like and had side blades so it flew like birds do. It was compared to a peacock and said to have flown like a peacock! The technology is said to have been way ahead of time even ahead of the technology present today but never had it been compared to a helicopter.

The blurb is interesting and it was this that had me intrigued about this book. Also the author's name as well as the story promoting itself as Ram's story, were significant pointers that attracted me to pick this book up to read.

The characters are taken from Indian mythology and they are familiar Ramayan characters but this is as far as the resemblance goes. The story is completely fictitious and only takes a base from the real story. The pace of the story is slow and it hops back and forth from the present (exile) to the past (childhood to adulthood of Ram). 

Amish's writing has definitely improved if compared to his previous works but still his world building skills need more work. Sometimes while reading the book, I got confused if I was reading a historical fiction or a contemporary one. The images created in my mind for some scenes had me visualizing the characters in big offices with large tables and big windows just like some tycoon character scene I read in the present time books. LOL

Then I was appalled when I came upon the parts where he has taken extreme liberties like adding a Nirbhaya type incident in the story and some scenes that had been in the Mahabharat time. Now, Ramayan story took place in Treta Yug and so evils like those we see now in Kal Yug didn't happen then (I hope.). Anyhow, I definitely didn't like these and many other liberties taken by the author that seriously distort our knowledge of that time and the events.

Now, all through the book the same thought kept running in mind. "Out of infinite number of story ideas he could come up with, why did Amish take up these characters to tell his fictitious story? What was the need to ruin our understanding of Lord Ram and hamper our knowledge of Ramayan?"

I didn't quite like the book, basically because I just could not digest this fictional sequence of events with my cherished characters thrown in them. Then I also feared that by reading this book, my knowledge of the epic, lifestyle enhancing and enriching account of Lord Ram's life was getting compromised. But despite, these issues, I have to mention that the learnings of Ram while in Gurukul are impressive and noteworthy.

In my opinion, had the author taken fictional characters to tell his story, he would have done a better job because by taking Ram Chandra as his central character he, no doubt, came under pressure to give a book matching the standard of the real story. This strain shows in his writing. 

Ram-Sita love interludes feel too unreal and reminded me of sappy Romantic Bollywood flicks. Not even close to the real thing, these scenes were not required and fail to leave any kind of impact except making the reader cringe.

Then the past is given too much page space and while the exile is rushed. The first part if too lengthily planned and told and the second part concise and rushed to end the book on a note suggesting that there is a second book.

I was bored and just held on because of all the hype that made me want to read the whole thing before making up my mind since I had already got late in reading it. But, unfortunately nothing compelling came in this book that would make me want to wait for the next installment.

All in all, Scion of Ikshvaku is a much hyped and expertly promoted book with nothing very noteworthy about it. I didn't enjoy this one and give it 2 out of 5. 



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