Posted in Books

Book Review: The Seeds of War (Mahabharata Series #2), 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:
It was only recently that I got introduced to the Mahabharata series, and the talented author Ashok Banker. Having seen the Mahabharata as a television serial, I was quite keen to read it as a story. I was wowed by the first book, The Forest of Stories. The second didn’t let me down in any way either.

When it is a series, and the second book has to keep the flow between its beginning and the first one’s end, that to me needs to be done well, and it has been. I liked the chapter “Prarambha” which introduces the Forest of Stories, and since Mahabharata is one continuous book, I think it’s a chapter that might not have been there. This chapter sets the tone, it says that the epic is eternal even without Vyasa, its recited even without Vaisampayana and retold even without Sauti.

This book brings out the scond parva, wherein we hear of the rivalry between the two maharshis Brihaspati, teacher and guide of the Devas, and Shukracharya who is the teacher and guide of the Asuras. The first has the divine knowledge to guide the Devas to victory each time, and the second has knowledge to the secret of immortality – the Sanjivani. The first part is the love story of Devyani, daughter of Shukra and Kacha, son of Brihaspati who’s been sent to retrieve the secret of the Sanjivani. This is a true love story, one whose power even overwhelms Shukra so much that he trusts his disciple and his daughter’s lover with the secret when the Asuras kill Kacha and trick him into consuming Kacha’s ashes.

Then Devyani, who is rejected by Kacha for an interesting reason, falls in love with a king, Yayati. We’re taken through their quite different love story, and which leads to Yayati’s immortality. I quite love the philosophy that Yayati shares to the righteous. After that, we’re taken through another unusual love story, that between Shantanu, who was a rajarshi cursed by Brahma into the mortal world, and Ganga, the goddess in mortal form. This leads to the birth of Devavrata, who we later come to know as the great Bhishmacharya.

For me, this story leaves us wanting more and very soon. It’s left at a very crucial position. I heard the third book is going to be out sometime this year. I’m praying it is very soon. Just like the first book, this holds your interest through the read and brings the characters and the epic story to life. This also goes into my library and it’s going to be there for good. This is a tale I shall be rereading soon, and one that any fan of mythology would enjoy.


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

Book-details:
Title: The Seeds of War
Series: Mahabharata Series (Book 02)
Author: Ashok K Banker
Genre: Mythological Fiction
ISBN: 978-93-81626-86-3
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 Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.


(April 11th, 2013)

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

Book-details:
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)