By Shatrujeet Nath. Vikramaditya #1. Grade: A
My interest in stories pertaining to Hindu mythology is limited to my grandmother’s stories, leaving my knowledge about the general ‘plot’ pretty scarce. I’ll admit to picking out this book solely because I found Shatrujeet Nath’s ‘The Karachi Deception’ an annoyingly fine read (‘annoyingly’ because I found the ending a bit too abrupt; But I guess leaving the reader begging for more is the trademark of a good author), and hence, had hopes from this book.
Wasn’t disappointed one bit.
The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.
But was the Halahala truly destroyed?
A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.
As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to Samrat Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!
A sweeping tale of honour and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend
Even with my limited grasp of the general back story, the author has managed to convalesce a plethora of ‘tidbits’ from the highly varied aspects Hindu mythology into this one beautifully synchronous novel and instead of just amalgamating these tales with the storyline, he has given each of them a different twist. It’s taking all my self control to not reveal a spoiler, but I’ll mention that it’s only near the end that one realises how the protagonist, King Vikramaditya, is actually a character most of us are very well acquainted with. This gleeful realisation might or might not have been the author’s motive, but it was something that greatly increased how much I enjoyed the book.
Speaking of ‘near the end’, I’ll admit that I was more than just slightly miffed (to say the least) when I realised that it would take two more books for the suspense to finally give way.
Getting accustomed with the large variety of names was a slight inconvenience at first, but the book is written well enough to make you keep going back to previous pages to reacquaint yourself with the characters. That aside, each character is richly detailed, playing a key role in the proceedings without seemingly playing second fiddle to the protagonist.
I should probably stress more on that.
Every single character has a back story! The author has done a wondrous job of entitling them to an introduction that would make it worth writing a book each on all of them! From Andhaka to the Ashvin brothers, from Shukracharya to Betal; each is well detailed and yet deserve a lot more detailing. All these stories meld together into the perfect symphony that this novel is. My only apprehension with this book is the fear that some of these stories might be left midway or disappear entirely over the course of this trilogy, much like what has happened in even good books such as the Eragon series; But considering the expectations that the author has met and surpassed by just his second piece of writing, I’d say that there’s little chance of that happening.
This is unlike the Indian mythology books that are present on your shelves. I would strongly suggest lovers of the mythology genre to ardently follow the author’s writings, and give this novel a look-over.