A few years ago, I read the Shiva trilogy by Amish and enjoyed it immensely. It was therefore with eagerness that I read Scion of Ikshvaku, even went for the book launch at Crossword in Pune. That was an interesting read and created enough excitement that I waited (and waited and waited) for the publication of Sita – the warrior of Mithila. Once I lay my hands on it, reading it was easy. The plot moves at a fast pace and the book is easy to read. The book also cemented some impressions I had about Amish’s writing. It also created some more impressions. To wit,
- Approaching these books as fiction based on mythology would be a terribly narrow view to take. I am looking at these as books that merely use familiar characters to tell a story that is at once familiar and not.
- Amish does manage to shake preconceived notions about the characters that one is meant to be familiar with. I did not face much of this in the Shiva trilogy perhaps because I knew little about Shiva. However, when it comes to characters from the Ramayan, never mind what version you have read, the deviation between what we ‘know’ and what unfolds is stark. That makes it more interesting and perhaps gives Amish more licence and I daresay protection from religious fanatics who see insult everywhere.
- The language is very contemporary and hence perhaps appealing to the younger reader. A purist may scoff at Sita saying ‘awesome’ or Vishwamitra saying ‘Let us make India great again’ but I found these endearing. Somehow they made the characters more human. As a child reading Ramayan I had always been over-awed by the religious connotations and had never been able to relate to any of the characters from the Ramayan as I was to the characters in the Mahabharat. Amish makes it easier for younger readers to relate to the characters and removes the religious element, almost completely.
- Sita: the Warrior of Mithila is a discussion on leadership and values. It is a discourse on social issues relevant now. I found the discussion on libertarian principles quite fascinating considering which character posits the view.
All in all, I must say I am looking forward to the third book that is to focus on Ravan. I can already see some intriguing Easter eggs strewn around the first two books. Ravan has always been a fascinating character and I am wondering how Amish would treat him. The second book has ended in an intriguing situation. Somewhat like the first season of Game of Thrones ending with Daenerys emerging from her husband’s funeral pure with three dragons. I want to know what happens next and I want to know NOW. Amish, are you listening – hurry up and write that third one man.