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Showing posts with label Ramayana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ramayana. Show all posts

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Stand Strong by Shubha Vilas | Book #4 of Ramayana- The Game of Life Series


Stand Strong by Shubha Vilas | Book #4 of Ramayana - The Game of Life Series

Stand Strong by Shubha Vilas is the fourth book of the Ramayana –The Game of Life Book Series. Since I have read the first 3 books of the series; I was elated when I got the opportunity to read this one. Stand Strong is a modern retelling of the Kishkindha Kand of Valmiki Ramayana - it tells us all about the events occurring in the monkey kingdom of Kishkindha. Like the previous books, this book too doesn’t just narrate the stories from Ramayana but also imparts insightful life lessons to the readers. The book is motivational, enlightening, and encouraging, all in the same breath.

The story tells us in detail how Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, how Rama decides to help Sugriva in dealing with his brother, the impudent monkey king Vali and how the vanara sena unite to help Rama in His mission of finding Sita. There are so many stories and anecdotes interspersed along the main storyline, each of them adding to the beauty of the prose and enhancing the reader’s experience with new perspective and learning. The main strength of the book is its narration - it is lucidly written with a simple yet vivid description of the incidences happening in the Kishkindha kingdom all of which ultimately culminate towards the invasion of Lanka – the grand kingdom ruled by the demon king Ravana.

As I keep saying in all the reviews of the previous books of this series, the author has given due attention to all the characters in the epic. They are intricately sketched – each having their space and chance to shine and grab the reader’s attention.

The tagline of the book says – keeping faith and conquering fear. That is also the lesson the author is trying to convey through the book. It was fear which made Sugriva feel weak and insecure - although he was not as feeble as he had started to think he was. Fear is debilitating, it clouds our thoughts and cuts our wings. Fear is the factor that limits us to make the most of our potential. If we learn to conquer our fear, we will realize that fear blows our tiny problems out of proportions and make it look huge. We will be free to chase our dreams in the truest sense, only when we keep faith and conquer fear.

It is a great book for anyone who is interested in Ramayana or in Indian mythological reads. This book also offers insights into the game that is life – so if you are looking for an inspirational read, it will make a great fit.

You can buy the book here:



I will like to end my review of this book by quoting some pearls of pearls of wisdom from the book here:

- Intelligence is about having the clarity to identify where the problem lies.

- When love leads to respect, it is called admiration. When respect leads to love, it is called inspiration.

- Excess fear leads to rebellion. Excess indulgence leads to disease. Excess comfort leads to lethargy. Excess power leads to arrogance. Excess of anything, however good it may seem, only tugs one towards the bad.

- Sometimes perception appears larger than reality. Many problems in life when perceived with fear result in pain, but when perceived with clarity, the result is freedom.

- The defining characteristic of inner stability is the ability to focus in the face of calamity.

I received a free copy of the book from the author in lieu of an honest review.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Demons of Chitrakut by Ashok Banker - A Book Review




This book and the next book in the series (Armies of Hanuman) have been with me for over 4 years now. I don’t know what took me so long to read this one especially when I totally loved reading the first two books of the series. I get lesser time to read these days and after not reading a single page for days at a stretch, I started longing to read something. That’s when I decided to read the books that have been sitting on my shelf untouched for long.

Ashok Banker has weaved magic through his books on mythology. In his Ramayana series, he has taken the liberty to use his own imagination and innovative story telling in narrating the epic saga. So, prospective readers keep in mind that this is not the so-called original version but a somewhat spiced up version of Ramayana. The author has made the reading experience a lot more dramatic. 

The previous book of this series concluded with Rama using ‘Brahma Astra’ to annihilate the Asura army that were all set to attack the city of Mithila. In this book, the story progresses further. Rama and his newly wedded wife Sita are welcomed in Ayodhya in all pomp and glory. While the citizens are all jubilant there is something not right in the palace – Asura sorcery is at play and it will have damning consequences for Rama. The reader is likely to be transported right into the happening in the streets of Ayodhya as he leafs through the pages of the book. 

The problems of the prince Rama are going to get a new height – a scheming Manthara has got the lust-laden Keikayi in control and soon Rama would leave the royal palace and head to live in the forest in exile for 14 years. The beauty of the book is that even though most Indian readers already have an inkling of what happens in Ramayana, they look forward to see how the author is going to narrate it. There is so much action happening in the book that the reader in you would want to set aside all works and continue with book.

However, this book is not without its share of flaws. There are parts in the book, where it seems that the author has gone overboard in describing the details of an incident and there are parts which seems rushed upon. For example, the demise of Manthara has been written in details but the passing away of Dasaratha were described in a few lines. Also, at times the narration in the book faltered. I would have liked it better if the pace of storytelling did not vary too much. 

Another thing that kept me reading the book was to find out about the demons of the Chitrakut. As it is the title of the book, I was hoping that they would be central to this book in some way. However, it is only near the very end of the book does the reader get introduced to these demons. Where and how – it is something you will know when you read the entire book.

Even though I can go on and on about what await you in the book, I sincerely think that you should better read it to find out more. Even with all its flaws, it is a great read and will keep any mythology lover hooked.

I am also finished with the book 4 of the series – Armies of Hanuman and will write about it soon. So, stay tuned and happy reading.

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shattered Dreams - Book 2 | Ramayana - The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas


For the review of the first book of the series -  Rise of the Sun Prince, please go here.

Title:  Shattered Dreams, Book 2
Series: Ramayana: The Game of Life
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2014
ISBN 13: 9788184955316
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 387
Price: Rs 350


I had enjoyed reading the 1st book of the series, so when I received a mail from the author for a review of the book 2 of the series, I was elated and accepted the offer eagerly. I am so glad to have read this book. It is one gem of a book, and I must confess here that I enjoyed it more than the 1st one.


The story in the second book of the series revolves around the events before the announcement of Rama's coronation, the sudden turn of events leading to his exile and the agony that follows thereafter.


The beauty of the book lies in the narration and the way it seamless connects all the events. Each and every character get the due attention; so you can visualize each and every scene in your mind. The readers get to know about Dasaratha's inner fears and his love for Rama, Manthara's scheming mind, Keikayi's infamous tantrums, Rama's sense of Dharma, Bharatha's sense of duty, and also the devastating effects Rama's exile has on the citizens of Ayodhya.


Even if you have read other books on Ramayana before, you will get to know something new here - you will be able to see the events in a new perspective. Another unique specialty of the book are the foot notes. These are little pearls of wisdom which educates the readers about applying the lessons from Ramayana in their own life. So, this book does a double job - it not only regales you with the stories from the epic saga, it also makes you understand the crux of the stories and how they can be applicable in your life. For example, by abiding by the order from Dasaratha to go to exile Rama shows his detachment from worldly things; Sita by accompanying Rama into exile shows that her love for Rama is above the comforts of a palace, and so on.

 
The language used is simple and the narration is 'spot on'. This is one book, I can surely re-read several times. Of course, I can't wait to find out what the third book of the series have in store. It will be marked by the entry of another legendary character - Ravana, so, I am pretty sure that it will be quite exciting to read that too.


I took my time to read the book, as I believe that is the best way to absorb all the information and lessons you are going to get from the book. So, by advice is read it slow and enjoy the journey.


I strongly recommend it to all mythology lovers. You shouldn't miss the opportunity of reading this one.


I received the book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Siege of Mithila by Ashok K. Banker




 Siege of Mithila by Ashok K. Banker 

One genre of books that I have started enjoying a lot recently is, without a doubt 'Indian mythology' or 'mythological fiction'. The two great epics of the Indian history are Mahabharata and Ramayana. I have already read two Mahabharata centered book – Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik and Palace of Illusionsby Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, so my next choice of mythological book was Ramayana centered. One of my blogger friends suggested me to read the Ramayana series by Ashok K. Banker. That I did as I got the first book of the series from the local library here. I enjoyed the book thoroughly only to discover later that the library does not have any other books of this series and hence I had to wait for my India visit to get my hands on the rest of the series.

Synopsis:

The bestial demon hordes roar towards Ayodhya having swept all before them. Rama cannot return home to defend his family. He must journey to Mithila—a city lying directly in the path of destruction—to join a small band of heroes planning a valiant stand against the armies of darkness. Can Rama unearth a hidden dev-astra to help in his battle against his nemesis, the demon lord Ravana?

Of course, we all know that Rama will be able to defend the city of Mithila. That is the beauty of Banker’s writing, despite knowing (almost) what happens in Ramayana, the reader’s interest in the story doesn’t waver even for a moment.  The author’s has used his own imagination in sketching the characters and in describing the events that place during the course of the novel. The story builds on where it was left in ‘The Prince of Ayodhya’, so if you want to read this book, I would suggest you to read it as per the series.
For me that star character of this book was Sita, of course, apart from Rama and Lakshmana. She is introduced not as a delicate princess but, as a warrior princess who is well versed in the art of archery and swords play. The demon lord Ravana is depicted as pure devil whose only aim it to conquer Ayodhya. There is Manthara who to please Ravana plots one evil plan after another to poison the sisterly relationship between Queen Kausalya and Queen Sumitra. She even schemes to get rid of Rama. There is also the story of Ahalya and how Rama releases her from her husband’s curse. The story seems to pace slowly as by the end of the novel we only reach till the swayamvar of Sita. But, the novel is filled with numerous sub plots and stories that keep the novel interesting and enlightening. All the sub plots culminate toward the bigger picture and a momentous climax. 

Ashok K. Banker takes you on an amazing fascinating journey, from Ayodhya to Mithila. It is an enriching experience. You will feel drawn towards the world of Ramayana as you turn pages of this book, that is the magic of Banker’s writing. I am very looking forward to reading rest of the series.

Highly recommended.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok K. Banker

My tryst with reading novels based on Indian mythology started with books like 'A Palace of Illusion' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik. Soon many such books made to my to-read-list. One fine day, I sat searching for books based on Indian mythology that are available in the libraries here and the title that came up was 'Prince of Ayodhya' by Ashok K. Banker. Long back when I had written a post asking my fellow bloggers to suggest me good books by Indian writers, Vibha had suggested the Ramayana series by Ashok K. Banker. So, I went ahead to reserve it. My librarian told me that this book might be missing as she could not locate it in the shelves. I had given up hope that I would be get hold of this book here. But, to my sheer delight after a couple of months, I received the book. I have to praise the libraries here. They are really very well maintained and managed.

The Prince of Ayodhya is the book one of the six books of Ramayana series by the author, Ashok K. Banker. Ramayana is one of the two great ancient Indian epics, the other being Mahabharata.

Quoted from the book's cover:

The original Ramayana—a classic tale of war between absolute Good and Evil—was written 3,000 years ago by Valmiki, a reformed thief-turned-sage. Now, with breathtaking imagination, Indian novelist Ashok K. Banker has recreated this epic tale for modern readers everywhere.

 Ayodhya, the Unconquerable is the legendary capital of warriors and seers, and the greatest fortress of the civilized world. Soon it will be a wasteland of ashes and blood. For Ayodhya lies in the shadow of a demon's wrath—a demon that is sending all its dreadful power to ravage the world of mortals. And only Rama, Prince of Ayodhya, can hope to prevent the onslaught of darkness.


The book was every bit fascinating that I expected it to be. Even though I have read that the author has added his own imagination in the story telling and that his version of the story deviates a lot from the original Ramayana, the novel refreshed a lot of my childhood memories that I had of the epic saga. All thanks to the Ramayana TV serial that was telecast-ed on Doordarshan in those days.

The author has given a lot of attention to main characters and they are beautifully sketched. As you read the novel they will be well etched in your mind. The book also dwells on relationships - the brotherly love the four brothers shares, the relationship King Dasratha has with his queens, the respects disciples have for their guru, the love and concern queens have for their sons. Not only that negative emotions are also given ample space in the narration. Queen Kaikayi and her aide Manthara are characters you won't forget, not to mention the devil king Ravana! They have bigger roles to play in the next books of the series.

The plot is gripping, the narration never falters, the subtle details of Dharma and Adharma will keep you engrossed till the end. If you have the slightest interest in Indian mythology, this is the book you can't miss. I can't wait to read rest of the series. Highly recommended.

Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!
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