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July 31, 2013

Book Review - 129 : The Guardians of Karma

Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Author : Mohan Vizhakat

Around 10500 B.C.E., with sea levels much lower than they are today, and mainland continents still largely covered with ice, the primary centres of Indian civilisation were dominated by two highly advanced nation states – Dev Lok and Daityan Empire. Spiritually-inclined Devas lived in harmony with nature, whereas Daityas believed in brute force technologies for rapid prosperity and material gratification. Steady inundation of the tropical islands created a crisis, particularly for Daityas. To fuel their hunger for material resources, the aggressive Daityas proceeded to invade other nations.

Warrior monk Hara becomes the sole hope of Dev Lok to prevent defeat and abject subjugation. However, before he can help them, Hara must undertake the ultimate journey of spirituality to pass beyond the barrier of death itself and engage with the astral personae of Lord Rudra. This action-packed mythological science fiction takes the readers through the exotic cities of Amaravati, Atalantpuri, and traces the arduous journey to Mount Kailash. The story unfolds the philosophy of Karma within the backdrop of love, passion, greed, war, tragedy and spirituality that characterised these ancient times.

Will Hara be able to check the Daityan aggression in time to correct the course of Karma? Will he be able to wield the viman ‘Pinaka’ against the central seat of Daityan power – the indestructible citadels of Tripura? Is he the one who will glorify the name of Lord Shiva as Tripurantaka – the mighty destroyer of Tripura?

Author Mohan neatly tick all the boxes of a mythology thriller. It has a wide narrative and a stream of main and associate characters punctuated by racy dialogues and an intrigue created solely on (mis)interpretation of the mythical creatures of our pre-historic times. The pace of the narrative is brisk and even though grappling with multiple characters, the author makes sure none of them is half-baked and thus, provides the required punch.

But more than anything else, it raises important and at times crucial questions about our mythology. Is it possible that many of the ancient myths within these epics do have some elements of truth behind them? Maybe an advanced civilisation with ethnic groups like Devas, Daityas, Rakshas, Manavs etc did exist during our distant past? May be the Lokas, Talas and other exotic places where they lived were actually the geographical land masses that used to exist during the ice age? Perhaps some of the legendary events described in our scriptures were interpretations of real incidents, gleaned from fragmentary cultural memories of a prehistoric era? Maybe there is a common lineage to the ancient legends of many cultures across the world? For example, is the Indian legend about the free-floating triple cities of Tripura and Greek one about Atlantis, both reconstructions of the same event?

I am going with 4/5 for Mohan Vizhakat's 'The Guardians of Karma'. There is pleasure in creating mythical world and even more fun when it is done right. This one has the right mix of emotions, adrealine pumping action sequences and a brave attempt to connect spirituality, science and philosophy. It's a must read and i look forward in reading its sequel.

July 29, 2013

Book Review - 128 : The Paperback Badshah

Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Author : Abhay Nagarajan

The Paperback Badshah...The comical journey of a 100 Rupee' make the same mistakes while narrating the story as its protagonist fumbles all through as an author. In the end result, the story is too long, convoluted and a well intention satirical tale on the journey of publishing a mass fiction reduces to a plodding sermon, quite literally. The story flounders as and when the drama picks up but till the climax it falls apart like a pack of cards in a clunky, overblown ending which has very little justification or fun.

Things are interesting right at the start when author of the book concentrates on the central protagonist ambitions seeing another successful author cracking cheap jokes and garner publicity on a book launch. But as the story unfolds, there are long portions which have little significance to the narrative and just adds to the length of the book. There are dream sequences inserted which are genuinely funny and are the best bits in the book.

I am going with 2.5/5 for Abhay Nagarajan's 'The Paperback Badshah'. It could have been a great satire, unfortunately it squanders the potential by concentrating too much on smaller details and in turn, missing out the big picture. A one time read to be quickly consumed and forgotten in its present form.

July 2, 2013

Quick Notes on a book after Death

Author : J.Phillip Jones
Publisher : Jaico Books

Rating : 2/5

Light on Death - The Spiritual Art of Dying is a book which may not be everyone's reading list but it does provide something unique for readers looking to experiment with different genre. All of us have seen death close to us, and most of us are called upon to support loved ones or friends in dying or in grieving a death. We wonder about the nature of this universal phenomenon. Is dying only an uninvited tragedy or can it also be seen as a sacred passage? Can the end of one's life journey be a time of completion and even growth?

The book slotted in 'Religion & Philosophy' genre views life as a pilgrimage culminating in the great transition at death. The book draw upon a little too much on eastern insights from the ancient sages of India but dwell upon very little from the modern hospice experiences. The author does explore the spiritual art of dying in which death is the last and most powerful rite of passage.

Divided into 5 small chapters, the book touches on a very interesting subject but on surface level only. Instead what we get are mostly insipid and mostly well known instances from the ancient books. It's a short, quick read but i can assure you that there are many more interesting books exploring this subject. Read it only if you must.