Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#153 : AScion Of Ikshvaku by Amish Tripathi : Review

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GENRE: Fiction – Historical 

NUMBER OF PAGES: 376

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Ram Chandra Series #1

REVIEW:

After ‘humanizing’ Lord Shiva, writer Amish has taken upon re-telling Lord Ram and his life story. Scion of Ikshvaku is Amish’s fictionalized version of Ramayana, the epic that has been interpreted and narrated by countless people. This book has been recorded as one of the most extensively marketed books with the book trailer going viral, pre-orders jumping and a lot of digital contests. Naturally, the strategic marketing resulted in people expecting a magic from Amish. Sadly, this book failed to match the level of magic that the Shiva trilogy managed to create. That might be because Ram’s character isn’t as dynamic as Shiva’s. 

Read on ONLY if you have read the book. /*this review contains spoilers hereinafter*/

Characterization

Unlike  Lord Shiva, who got a radical makeover in Amish’s previous books, Lord Ram or Emperor Ram is more or less the much ethical and law abiding man from the actual Ramayana.  Sita’s characterization, on the other hand is a different story. She is this strong spear wielding administrator unlike mellow Sita from the actual Ramayana. The other characters, Laxman, Bharath, Kaikeyi and Manthra have all been given a rather refreshing twist which had a huge impact on the story line. Ravana, as of now, has also been unaltered and remains the loathed evil demon. I don’t exactly trust Amish to let that be in the subsequent books. It is evident that he has done a lot of research about Ramayana, its protagonists, the sequence of events and the underlying philosophy. To revamp almost all the characters, such research is vital. One thing that I loved utterly was that, Amish stripped all the characters of their supernatural element, like Ravana having 9 heads or Ram’s birth - making the story a realistic and natural read.

 Plot

Like the characterization, the plot has also been revamped, re-adapted, re-engineered (or whatever re-word you know of) from the original Ramayana leaving a majority of readers (me included) in a state of shock. I was stunned with the liberties that the writer took adapting the Nirbhaya incident and Darupati’s Swayamvar into Ram’s tale. More than anything, one school of thought that pushed the envelope for me is where the nobility of Ayodhya and Emperor Dashrath hate Ram as his very birth was the reason Dashrath lost the battle against the evil Ravan. In a way that made me love Ram a bit more than I already do.The plot line so far was laced with right amount of twists and turns. So far so good, but I’m definitely curious about what is to come, for the crux of Ramayana is yet to be narrated.

Writing

Let’s face it. Amish is no literary genius, but then he created a cult following with Shiva trilogy and revived the present generation’s almost extinct interest in mythology. His simplistic writing aided the books in reaching even the people who don’t read books much. His writing has come a long way from being sober to being narrative (specifically in this book). To re-engineer and gave a face-lift of sorts to a much read tale, one needs to have guts and be unapologetic about it. It is evident that Amish fits that bill perfectly.

MY SAY:  A one time read and page turner with right amount of drama and action.

RATING:

PLOT : 8/10

NARRATION: 6/10 (I found the philosophical part on leadership and laws to be a bit repetitive)

CHARACTERIZATION: 9/10 (Especially for Sita’s character!)

BOREDOM QUOTIENT: 3/10 (The lower the better)

OVERALL RATING: 7/10


NOTE 

This is something which I felt has to be mentioned. I had an opportunity to meet the writer and interact with him during The Hindu Lit Fest 2015 in Chennai held on the month of January. For some one who has sold a lot of copies and wrote sensible mythology, he came across as a simple and warm man. When the announcement about this book was released I was debating if I should really pick this book up. 

Ramayana is close to my heart because my parents brought me a copy of this epic when I was beginning to understand the sense of right and wrong. It was just not another story for me. It much more than that, for it taught to be devoted like Lord Hanuman and humane like Maa Sita - two lessons that I strive to perfect till date (oh yes! Lord Ram wasn't really my hero at all in the story). That is why I have always avoided reading adapted versions of this epic. I can't possibly handle my favorite story being misinterpreted. 

I sincerely hope that writer Amish, doesn't end up altering  my sense things. I picked up this book only and only because, his previous books were much in line with my though process. When it comes to mythology, books really do alter my thought process and beliefs. I know this might sound childish or even may be immature, but this is who I really am and I'm unapologetic about it. 
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