Oct 16, 2012

Thundergod... a tale of intrigue...

Hindu mythology is full of deities. Some larger than life, some as close to life as any, some full of mischief and some so grand that they seem unattainable. Some are well adored and some so miss-forgotten that they not even exist in daily worship. No matter what standing a deity has, I am pretty sure if someone was to write a novel/book; there won't be a dearth of choice. So, I was a bit intrigued when I saw the title "Thunder god`"...coz in my mind, Lord Indra (or Devraj Indra), though interesting was not really a hero material. At least not the type of hero that the summary at the back page was referring to.

Rajiv G Menon, is a name that was not known or heard before I picked up the novel, which was not surprising coz this is his first book, but “now” I am looking forward to the next installment. Which is not going to be an easy feat, as the copy that was sent to me was pre-release bound proof only. L

Coming to the actual review… my congratulations to author who manages to create a tale that is interesting, fast paced and with enough elements of action, thriller, suspense and romance that it keeps the reader hooked. The characters are sound and come across clearly which is an astounding feat to achieve for a first novel. The story weaves enough spaces for future references and jumps back in time which creates a huge canvass for the author to play. There are elements that you know will come back in the play when time comes and they surely do. The central character, Indra, has every trait that a man would have or a leader should have. He’s strong willed, and loyal while he has his own flaws, he has enough sense to know and acknowledge them. He goes through highs and lows that any hero would. Making mistakes and learning through them, loving and losing what he loves, trusting wrong people and gaining arrogance at the hands of untimely and unstoppable victories etc etc. Thunder god is a novel filled with wonderful magic and beautiful action sequences. The characters that more believable and even recognizable and a plot that truly interesting. But as with any good thing, there comes a hoard of not so good things; Thunder god is also not above them. There are some really grating things about Thunder god.

For starters, why Indra had to be born of Gaia and Daeyus? The names, places and events that Rajiv uses, leaves you with an impression that he is talking about a world of Greek or Roman Mythology. Even the way of life of Deva Tribe is described you would be reminded of the starting of the movie 300 and Spartan way of life. Rajiv G Menon borrows heavily from the Greek and Roman and European Myths and Legends. Which is not an issue in itself coz the story that he tells is free of those myths and legends. He also relies on a middle-earth type surroundings and borrows from the history and Aryan migration myths etc. Though the names and places sound known the way they are used in the story line is extremely clever. He’s so liberal in his borrowing from myths and legends, he doesn't even leave Dragons behind… J

Of course there are times when you are not comfortable with him borrowing from those myths and twisting the names and descriptions of deities that we worship in a not so flattering manner. At times you feel outraged at his liberal imagination and you might end up asking yourself…”Dragons? Really?”. You will have a lot of names and events to keep a track of, and if you are anything like me…you will say to yourself “oh, I had forgotten about this character absolutely” at least a couple of times. They story that Rajeev is telling is not a simple tale, so it is GOING to be full of people and full of events and one might need to be advised at the very start of the novel to sit with a paper and pen so as to keep a check on characters and events… it might just help. At the end of those 400 odd pages you do come out feeling as exhausted as you might feel after finishing Lord of the Rings or something. And of course, there is this small little issue of Devraj Indra not really fitting into the image of “Fearless Brave Hero and Leader of a Tribe”; which makes it a really hard to get into the element of reading.

But with all its flaws, Thunder god makes an excellent reading experience. If you can get over feeling a little out of elements of the sort, you WILL enjoy the read. So, as an advice I would say, keep your preconceptions about Devraj aside, if possible… keep aside everything you might know or heard or read about Hindu Mythologies all together… and you WILL have a fantastic reading experience, with Thunder god. My congratulations to Rajiv G Menon and eagerly waiting for the next installment. J

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Oct 4, 2012

Now I am become death, the destroyer of the worlds

Dan Brown and Chris Kuzneski have been my favorite authors for a long while. The wor they produce usually prompts me to google for more information. And that's one of the reasons why I like reading them. They make you want to learn more. I have always wondered when I read works by Dan Brown or Chris Kuzneski, how would the followers of Christianity felt when they read authors talk about their divine leaders. (I choose to call them divine rulers for a reason...) What were their reactions to being told that their godly leaders were mere mortals and there exists proofs (for those who believe in them) to prove it.

I got my answers when I picked up Krishna Key.

The book was up for review from blogadda, and the excerpt said "Five thousand years ago, there came to earth a magical being called Krishna, who brought about innumerable miracles for the good of mankind. Humanity despaired of its fate if the Blue God were to die but was reassured that he would return in a fresh avatar when needed in the eventual Dark Age—theKaliyug.

In modern times, a poor little rich boy grows up believing that he is that final avatar. Only, he is a serial killer.

In this heart-stopping tale, the arrival of a murderer who executes his gruesome and brilliantly thought-out schemes in the name of God is the first clue to a sinister conspiracy to expose an ancient secret—Krishna’s priceless legacy to mankind. Historian Ravi Mohan Saini must breathlessly dash from the submerged remains of Dwarka and the mysterious lingam of Somnath to the icy heights of Mount Kailash, in a quest to discover the cryptic location of Krishna’s most prized possession. From the sand-washed ruins of Kalibangan to a Vrindavan temple destroyed by Aurangzeb, Saini must also delve into antiquity to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice."

Who wouldn't be intrigued by an excerpt like that?

I like countless others in India and the rest of the world, have found the Blue Skinned God fascinating. Even if you don't believe him to be a God, but a mere historical figure; you can't reduce the allure that word Krishna has. (that's why earlier I said I tend to call them rulers). Raised in a Hindu household, Krishna and his Leela has never been stranger to me. And accepting that this blue skinned guy killed a 6 hooded serpent before he was even 10, doesn't really seem strange. But its never been his godly chamatkar that have held my interest. This protagonist of Mahabharat intrigues me because of his diplomatic and political skills. If you want to learn people skills, this should be your GURU. :)

Coming back to Ashwin Sanghi's Krishna Key... In a single word...its INTRIGUING. It has a interesting premise on which its built. Mr. Sanghi had done a lot of research and he possesses all the markers of a great story teller. His narration is fast and clear. The plot evolves soundly and with a great speed, that intrigues but doesn't really makes you breathless. (Blame my Matthew Reilly trained mind for this). The twists and cliches emerge and resolve. The questions arise and find answers and then more questions are born. The images in the book are apt and provide the much needed visual appeal that offers more understanding. All in all, Krishna Key is a ride that I will suggest to one and all.

Though, I will share the wonderful book with friends and families, there are things that if avoided would have made it even MORE exciting and gripping... For one, there are too many theories floating and at some point mid-way in the book...you find it hard to handle all the bombardment of facts, figures and scientific research. Second, I am a proud Hindu, though not religious I have a healthy respect for all things scriptures say, as well as the history of the continent that I call home. But seriously, sometimes in the book, you find all the assumptions and claims about how great civilization we HAD, a little too much. I mean, alright, we are probably the oldest and possibly wisest of them all, but claiming no one was / is smarter and older than us, or even all who were older and smarter were born out of us, is a little too much from my point of view. (I haven't had time to Google for  accuracy of all claims in the book, and frankly there are so many that I am not even feeling like searching). Third and the most important...I wish the shlok were printed in Devanagari instead of Roman script. It would have eased the trouble of trying to make sense of the words written in Roman. And Lastly, I seriously think the last few pages with Saini's romance was a tad too much. Could have done without it.

But all in all, the book has found a place on my bookshelf, and will be on the list of books I will recommend to others for reading. I was reluctant to buy Ashwin Sanghi's Chankya's Chant for its "bestseller" status...but I believe I will give that a chance too...who knows, I might find my next Google project there. :)

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