Posted in Books

Book Review: The Forest of Stories (Mahabharata Series #1), by Ashok Banker

About the author:
Ashok K. Banker is an internationally acclaimed author of mixed-race and mixed-cultural parentage based in Mumbai, India. He aims to retell all of the major myths, legends and itihasa of the Indian sub-continent in a span that will cover over seventy volumes.

My thoughts on the book:
The power of a story is not just in the plot, but in the narration as well. The ability of the author to hold the attention of the reader through the book with just his words to me tells a lot of the book itself. I found this book to be that sort of end-to-end brilliance. I usually associate that phrase end-to-end with thrillers, but this mythology masterpiece definitely merits it.

The first book in the “Mahabharata (MBA)” series, this book sets the tone for what is to come. This is Ved Vyasa’s epic retold and the characters built as they are. The language is poetic, as befits the great epic, and the author shows that he is not just a writer, but a raconteur, as his voice takes one into a trance. Narrated by a raconteur Ugrasrava Romarsana, son of Suta and hence named Sauti, we are taken right to the heart of Naimisha-van, to the hermitage of Kulapati Shaunaka and his many disciples as he does so.

What I liked:
From the get-go, you are drawn into the tale and its interest is such that you don’t stop till the end, or you have to. For a magical tale, a magical narration is needed. The book has that. Right when you are lost in the book and may have missed a line of thought, the narrator brings it back to your attention by a wise interruption and question from the learned sage Shaunaka. The imagination of Sauti, where he sees not just the people at the hermitage but also the many souls of those who were lost in the epic battle, is well-drawn. I was especially drawn to the tale of Jamadagneya Rama. The pause in narration happens at exactly the right places, and split as the Mahabharata epic is.

What I didn’t like:
I couldn’t fault much at all. If any, I found a misprint somewhere, but that isn’t at a place where you can notice it.

Closing thoughts:
With the first book ending at a place where the birth of Ved Vyasa and his existence is shown, it sets the stage for the second book to continue. This is my favorite fiction of the year to date.

Rated a perfect 10/10
Rated a perfect 10/10

Title: The Forest of Stories
Series: Mahabharata Series (Book 01)
Author: Ashok K Banker
Genre: Mythological Fiction
ISBN: 978-93-81626-37-5
Publishers: Westland
Price: INR. 295


The book is a personal copy. The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.

(March 25th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Grandma’s Bag of Stories, by Sudha Murty

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children. Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages and have sold over three lakh copies around the country. She was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan’s Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

My thoughts on the book:
I borrowed this book from the library just about the same time I was delving into a literary fiction, so after that, this came as a breath of fresh air, to refresh my mind. This brought back memories of visits to my native place, and of stories that my grandmother used to tell me too, sort of a bittersweet experience.

Childhood is the time when morals are imbibed, so the stories we hear then from our elders are those happy ending, wisdom filled tales so we understand that though the world isn’t a perfect place, there are good things, and good people. This book has those innocence filled stories that just sound in place. It might as well be you in the place of Raghu or Meenu, and your grandmother instead of Ajji, the stories might seem familiar in their wisdom.

My favorites from the book are “Doctor, doctor” which shows that kindness can bring wonderful rewards, but if the reward is misused, the kindness can be overlooked and the rewards stopped, “Kavery and the thief” which shows wit and wisdom can triumph in a hard situation and “How the seasons got their share” which brings importance to the need to share, and to work together.

The language is simple and enjoyable, just as the language for a child’s book should be. The morals are right, and the illustrations well done. It could double up as a coloring book for the kids, as well as a refreshing change of perspective and weight of reading for you.

A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book details:
Title: Grandma’s Bag of Stories
Author: Sudha Murty
ISBN: 978-0-143-33202-2
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publishers: Puffin Publishers
Price: Rs. 199


The book was borrowed for reading from the local library. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.

(March 25th, 2013)