fantasy fiction

Crucibles Of Sin ( Ranakrt Mythologies ) by Hitesha Deshpande

6:31:00 PM


I have always liked Hitesha's writing , from the days I started as a follower and lover of her poetry oN twitter.  That she would one day surprise with a Fantasy fiction book , was beyond my dreams. Such an engaging tale she has spun in this book. I am a little biased when it comes to fantasy fiction books , and having read multiple of those over the years , I have not read any book by an Indian author this fast like I read Crucibles of Sin. There is a goddess who has created this warrior sect , there is a queen who chooses her partner based on his skills in swordfight , there is a cursed lover who talks and commands the creatures in forest and then there is the whole politically motivated set of kings and ministers vying to get hold of the power that Rankrt themselves have no clue of. This was a heady cocktail of good , evil , power , duty and revenge.

As much as the Ranakrt guys have a dark character , the development and the backstory of these people was handled very carefully as not to become a repetition and to keep readers in their favor and actually feel for them. The title - Crucibles of sin was well justified not just in the end ( mostly there )  but all along the story as you realize that the Ranakrt are all because of the sins they have faced and been through. Each and every character introduced has a role to play in this tale and it keeps your attention to the pages. the action sequences , the conversations and the locations all come alive while you read. A lot of wheels have been set in motion in this part and I am eagerly awaiting for the next part to take the story forward , to a conclusion like each epic is supposed to have. Fantasy fiction lovers will surely enjoy this one. 

My rating: 5/5

The book can be accessed only via the Juggernaut Books app.  Download Juggernaut App here - http://onelink.to/jgnt and download this book. You can even buy the book in parts. 


Ashwin Sanghi

The Sialkot Saga by Ashwin Sanghi

12:47:00 AM

I have been a fan of Ashwin sanghi , mostly for his first book. The next two were good ones for different reasons but no way near Rozabal Line. I have missed rest of them and was not aware of Sialkot Saga till it hit the markets. The size , the plot and the hype around the book made me think that this book might be almost like the previous ones I have read. I was wrong. This was not as good as any. Call it a personal quirk or something , but I go restless unless I understand the reason behind the book's name. Here, it took me 400 pages to even hear Sialkot mentioned. This 500+ pages book is not difficult to read ;cause lets agree , most of us are used to follow the story of two people from diverse cultures and background engage in rivalry from ages.  We have seen that in movies , in books and bollywood has fed us this plot more than one can count. Hence the stories of Arbaz and Arvind - one son of a dockyard worker who rises to be the trusted aide of local don and other an ambitious son of an average businessman. Both of them dabbled on both sides of legally / morally wrong deals and kept putting each other down for no other reason than ego and revenge. The heights of cliché was their kids marrying each other and them being tied to each other much before they ever heard of each other.

The parallel track  that begins with Ashoka and his nine gems discussing their knowledge that must be preserved and so passed to next generations carefully. Every now and then , we see the traces of this knowledge , the manuscript and the people entrusted with the same. Everyone who is in touch with these men seem to be wealthy beyond means and one starts wondering if we are on a treasure hunt. It is only in the last 100+ pages that the story starts to emerge clearly and by then Arbaz and Arvind die without ever realizing the truth.  It is passed to their kids and friends to reveal the importance of their connection , the "big secret" and how it all began.  but even that backstory is not descriptive. how was this knowledge obtained and what was the role of the nine unknowns gathered by Asoka ?   I would have liked this book more if some of the present characters and events would have been left out of the book. The characters go through every possible historical landmark between 1950 to 2010 - the wars , the different PM , emergency , assassinations , technological advances , the scams , earthquakes , Plane attack in USA  and even the Godhara tragedy. It kind of put me off  , this historical reference overload.

This book is more for his die hard fans and those who want an easy read. Many of readers who read a lot , will find certain similarities with other international books. I appreciate the research and the ability to spin a story that envelops all the mentioned events and people in here , but the effort did not make it an entertaining read for me.

My rating : 2.5/5

books

Review of Dibya Satpathy's Dormant State by Gouri

11:57:00 PM

          

Dormant State
Dibya Satpathy
Patridige-Penguin
Writer's Melon
        
           'The dormant state', the first from the pen of the zealous soldier,Dibya Satpathy,presently serving with Indian Armed Force, a graduate of the prestigious National Defence academy, is a political fiction based on Odisha, the author's native place.

           The protagonist,Anirudh,is a vibrant, unorthodox young man from a middle class family. The story revolves in such a way that the average reader can easily relate to it.The book is particularly relevant in the current political and social scenario where false propagandas and pseudo-intellectual political activism often masquerades as responsible journalism. 

           Anirudh is the kind of guy who never refuses to help anyone and at the same time who is bold enough to fight against the social evils.It's this attitude of his which makes him lead a mob and eventually enter the big bad world of politics which ultimately acts as a turning point in his  life. For a spirited youth who finds the realities of our system not as conforming can easily  relate to Anirudh and each of his dilemmas and  thoughts.
As the story progresses Anirudh's perceptions,needs,ideas and overall perspective get influenced by a SOMEONE who is always there to pave a perfect way to the emerging leader. At the end all his ideas take an evil turn to row along the norms of society.

         The story is more focused on its social and political confrontations. It will be convincing for a reader who seeks more update on each lines regarding the plot in a social and political level rather than the fictional elements. The author has succeded in picturising each scene in readers mind. Sticking true to it's political-thriller genre, the author has been smart enough to do away with the 'mandatory romantic track' thereby making sure that the overall tone of the narrative is never diluted.

          The real life 'inspirations' behind the events mentioned in the book are at times way too obvious but that doesn't act as a hindrance in the narrative at any point of time.

The cover page is decently done and the overall design and formatting of the book is also quite decent.On the whole, Dibya Satpathy's 'Dormant State' is a good read.I'm giving 3.75/5 for this engaging debut.

-Reviewed by Gouri.

crime thriller

Piyush Jha'S Raakshas

4:14:00 PM

Author:Piyush Jha
Title:Raakshas
Westland
295 INR
review copy via writersmelon


                Piyush Jha is one of my favourite desi writers.Though not of high literary value, almost all his books have been national best-sellers.When it comes to writing fast paced,paisa-vasool thrillers, there aren't many Indian writers who can give him a run for his money!His latest work 'Raakshas' is no different.This book which traces the life of India's No 1 serial killer is undoubtedly an interesting read.
              The plot is pretty generic.A serial killer is creating havoc in the city.Enter Maithili Sharma,the ACP who is determined to contain the reign of terror unleashed by the 'Raakshas'.But pretty soon,the hunter becomes the hunted and Maithili becomes his next 'target'!
              As a book blogger,I have had the opportunity to read and review quite a number of 'serial-killer' stories.Though many of them have been decent enough works of fiction,what makes 'Raakshas' a cut above the rest is Jha's attention for detail and the strong back-story that he has given for his protagonist and antagonist.Most of the serial-killer thrillers follow a set pattern, the crime-the chase-the final confrontation.Jha has been bold enough to defy this conventional pattern of story telling.The novel opens with the birth of the 'Raakshas' and depicts his troubled childhood.Though illogical and unconvincing at times,it's difficult for the average reader to not to feel sorry for the harrowing experiences that the killer had to suffer as an innocent child.It's this detailing that makes this work different from the run-of-the-mill serial killer tale.
              The writing is competent and the language is pretty functional and devoid of lengthy,pretentious prose.The characters are three dimensional and having shades of grey.Kudos to the writer for not portraying the protagonist as an epitome of all virtues.Likewise,the characterization of the killer is also very well done.Infact for me, the book worked more as a brilliant work of character study than a fast paced thriller.There are enough twists and turns happening at regular intervals which keeps the reader hooked to the proceedings.The cover design is also decently done though it would have been better if they had done away with that cheesy tag-line!(The book also has a bonus section about the lesser known serial-killers).
              On the downside,there are atleast half a dozen plot twists which feel contrived and even illogical.For instance,Maithili's confrontation with the 15 year old drug peddler and it's aftermath (spoiler alert!) is far from convincing.But these minor flaws apart,'Raakshas' is a work which is truly worth your time and money.

Verdict-Worth Buying. I'm giving 3.5 out of 

-nikhimenon

Eka Kurniawan

Beauty Is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan

7:44:00 PM

Some stories wrap you , trap you in them so hard that no matter how hard you find it to accept the direction it flows, you let it be. There is tragedy ,sorrow and harsh times outlined in each chapter of the book but what it details best is how it impacts real people, people who leave their footprints in the history of a place , a mention in stories passed to generations. I have read this one with a pace and interest unmatched for many books in this genre. This lengthy novel begins with most unusual birth and death - the famous prostitute Dewi Ayu dies two weeks after giving birth to her fourth daughter Beauty. The story then goes back in time since Dewi was a teenage girl,introducing the culture, history and life of Indonesia in the backdrop of World War. We meet the men in Dewi's life , her daughters and the men in their lives, some overlapping multiple generations. Dewi later returns from the grave to know her daughter Beauty and of lives she had left behind. Here the book actually became most interesting for me, mixing paranormal in the already epic tale. I was turned off a little with all the incest and rape but the writing and the story did not let me leave this at any time. The writer has done a good job to make it a part of the whole saga and not some unwanted diversion from the main story. The people portrayed here have basic instinct of survival and possession, of business and lust, of love and the hurt in the path seeking it.

My rating : 4/5

author interview

#AuthorInterview : Hariharan Iyer

11:21:00 PM

Last week I read and reviewed Surpanakha by Hariharan Iyer. A brilliant book on politics, revenge , money games and strength of common people standing up for people we love. This week,we bring you a conversation with the author -

Which one character did you think of first in the book?
Zarina. You know why? There are a couple of things, which inspired me to write Surpanakha. One of them involved Zarina.
What was the inspiration behind the story?
A couple of years ago, a law intern alleged that a retired judged behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with her. Celebrity lawyers took up her case. Media hounded the judge. He was forced to resign from a strategic post retirement job. Thereafter when the police registered a case and wanted the victim to testify, she vanished. We don’t know what happened. Was there pressure on her not to testify? Or was it decided that the purpose had been achieved? Neither the celebrity lawyers nor media felt obliged to explain their position to the masses.
Secondly, a series of articles by an IIM professor on the mushrooming NGOs and their questionable sources of funds forced me to think. Around the same time there were reports that well-known personalities who were running foreign funded NGOs were using the funds for buying branded jewelry, clothing and shoes! It made me wonder what the underlying motivation could be for floating such NGOs.
Both the above gave rise to a lot of what ifs in me and pushed me into the realm of fiction. And the novel was born. I would, however, like to clarify that it is not a real life story. Now you can understand why I thought of Zarina first.
Which character's personality/ manners resembles a real life person you know?
Mythili. And who is Mythili? A housewife who displayed extraordinary courage while dealing with a grave challenge to her husband’s career. I know of a couple of women who have shown this kind of courage.
What was the hardest thing for you to do while working on this book?
My first draft was 105,000 words. I gave the manuscript to a couple of beta readers and their near unanimous response was ‘The book is interesting, but cut down the size.’ And that was an unenviable job. Every word I had written appeared to be significant. Every word I deleted cried for its continuance. And indecisive period of 10 days. Finally I cut down around 15,000 words!
What are you working on next?
My next book. It deals with an aspiring young girl who wants to pursue medicine, but the reservation laws of the country would not allow her to do so. What does she do—curse her fate and choose another discipline to pursue like her elder brother did a few years earlier or fight back?  
What was your first step into writing and how far have you come from there?
I took to writing a couple of years ago. I blogged on media and current affairs for a year at valadyviews.blogspot.com and contributed articles to The Hoot, an online media watch portal before hitting on the idea for this novel.
Who is your favorite author in the Indian fiction scene at the moment?
S.L. Bhyrappa. He is a Kannada writer. Many of his novels have been translated into other languages. I like his Aavarana the most.

Hariharan Iyer

Surpanakha by Hariharan Iyer

12:04:00 AM


Though the title was much justified when I finished the book, it was confusing for me in the beginning and intriguing too. The story revolves around the CM Sesha and his devoted wife Mythili who seem to be the focus of all major storms that can rock the state of Tamil Nadu. We get introduced to the characters very early on in the book and through the case of mass murder against the CM, the author gives us a good glimpse into the personality and history of all the central characters along the political scene at work. This helps the reader connect to the story and to easily follow the flow with interest.

There is nothing superficial or fake about the cast that author has assembled here. The book is not just a political drama but also a very good story of how personal agendas wreck havoc in our lives and also in those of innocent minds that are brainwashed. One of my favorite person from the book is , Mythili who not just is devoted as expected but also strong willed and resourceful when the need arises. The climax is a high power show that I enjoyed a lot even though the end becomes clear much before you reach it in the book. This has the making of a very brilliant and entertaining novel,and perhaps a movie too.

My rating : 4/5

dibya satapthy

The Dormant State by Dibya Satpathy

12:44:00 AM


The reason I was interested in this book was that this was based on/in Odisha. The political plot of the book made me think twice whether there be anything new to offter in the book, yet I decided to be surprised by the way this book engaged me. The book is a little esaay sort in the beginning. The narrative, if it had been in dialogues would have been better. The tone kind if makes one disaasociate with the plot but it stays only for first 30 pages and later when the author does the same, you know better to let the story flow.

The reason for which book was picked , was justified and fulfilled to a large extent. The book gave me a very good picture and understanding of the state , its problems, the society and culture too. The growth of each character is well nuanced and balanced. The story is almost a thriller with each player pulling strings in his own interest , resulting in multiple masks to decipher.

Anirudh is a guy with heart and mind dedicated to service of others. He is a natural leader and so his rise to be a CM is understandable. The challenges and the political tie ups that he manages make for a very interesting read. This story is well researched and the timeline is almost accurate.

My rating : 3.5/5