It sometimes so happens that we pick up a book, and we like the work so much that we try to get everything that the author has written. It happened with me, when I came across Immortals of Meluha by Amish. I knew I had to pick up and read the entire Shiva Trilogy. And then, one fine day, Scion of Ikshvaku released. I couldn’t keep my hands off the book.
Truth. Duty. Honour.
The one thing I truly love about Amish’s work is how it manages to captivate you and place you there, emotionally. I literally got goosebumps when Mahadev rose for the first time in Immortals of Meluha. The other thing I love is how realistically the epics are reinterpreted. Scion of Ikshvaku is a great attempt, no less than his previous works.
The cover is similar to any of Amish’s previous works, except that it moves away from duo-tone. This one has a dash of colour in it. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same faceless avatar of the protagonist in a scene from the book. That just works. While I wouldn’t pick the book just for its cover, having known the genre and Amish’s way of writing, I think it serves its purpose.
This book is a retelling of the Ramayana. And the characters in the book are very familiar to anyone who’s watched or read any of the versions of the epic. Perhaps the only characters that we haven’t really heard of are Arishtanemi, Roshni and Radhika. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same character set as the Ramayana.
Of course, there are a few changes to some of the characters and what they do in the story. Instead of sticking to things like Manthara is someone entirely different; not Kaikeyi’s maid. I think it’s best if the book is read to understand the little differences.
The content, while follows the same outline of the Ramayana, it is quite different from what we’re all familiar with. Here, it starts with Ram being hated by the Sapt Sindhu empire, and not the beloved prince. The story is about whether Ram wins their love or not. If he does or doesn’t, why so.
As with his work, there also are discussions about different social phenomena, how, when shifting ideologies, our society faces challenges of resistance at first, and then, how it grows into a heaven, and starts to decay, descending into a haven for corruption and slowly anarchy; how, then, everything becomes meaningless.
Amish has used a simple language to date. There are some Sanskrit words added, which, promptly, are followed by their meanings. This adds to the natural feel of the story, especially, to people who belong to the Indian cultures.
The flow is clean. No complaints.
There are loads of great quotes in the book, including the sources, wherever appropriate.
The story flows really well. It’s hard to take your eyes off, even though it’s not a nail-biting thriller.
In some situations, the story shifts a little towards the more dramatic, more emotional side of it. Not that this is very bad, it just kind of takes you off the point a bit, and makes you feel a little bump in your head—because it doesn’t fit that well in the often-serious flow.
Overall, the book’s come out well. There are incidents and characters modified a little to make things more practical and sensible for today’s outlook, all this has been done well.
Whom do I recommend it to?
I’d recommend this to those who like fan fiction; this is a fan fiction of large scale. I also recommend this to those who’d like a more modern, more sensible (than the Doordarshan show) version of epics.
Humans moved away from the “natural way” when we began to wear clothes, cook our food and embraced cultural norms over instinctive urges. This is what civilisation does.
A name, in a sense, became an aspiration, swadharma, individual dharma of the child.
Conversely, men of questionable character can occasionally be exactly what a nation requires.
Greatness and goodness is a potential in a majority of humans, not a reality.
Expecting people to follow rules just because they should is being too hopeful. Rules must be designed to dovetail with selfish interest because people are primarily driven by it. They need to be shepherded into good behaviour through this proclivity.
But if the government interferes to such an extent that the weak thrive and the strong are oppressed, society itself will collapse over time.
All efforts to impose the concept of the One God upon minds that do not respect diversity will only result in intolerance. The Upanishads contain this warning.
Ignorance of the law is not a legitimate excuse.
Those seeking only factual knowledge would analyse what happened. Those in love with wisdom would simply enjoy the moment.