Myth making is an art. Time was when mythological tales were associated with grandparents first, and with religion only as a by-product. In recent times, the retelling of myths from different perspectives has taken off. There are authors who give the theme a humorous twist by setting the godly characters in modern settings. There are also those who flesh out some of the lesser known characters in myths and help the reader see them as real people.
Some tales attempt to insert a quest in the original myth. One such author is Ravi who has tried to combine his love for “futuristic science” with his interest in mythology. The plot of the story envisages a crystal that houses parts of the souls of Shiva and Vishnu. Naturally this is the most powerful weapon devised! Hidden safely away in the Himalayas it seems, like any nuclear device, reassuring just to know it’s there. But it has now gone missing and Rama is the chosen one to find it. The idea has possibilities and could well draw in teenage readers. But an idea needs to be fleshed out well.
The series craze has taken hold of young readers and this book too is titled Book 1 in the Crystal Guardian Series. So the reader is made aware that there is more to come. But is more always synonymous with good quality? The match between a good reader and a good book is made when the two meet at the level of elegant writing, tight plot and full blooded characters. Unfortunately this book falls short at each of these markers.
The writer tries to bring in an authenticity in the language and add a few contemporary phrases but does not quite pull it off. Rama refers to his father thus; “His arms were like steel and his sword was one with his mind and body. As he came closer, I saw that he had forsaken his normal regal attire for a lighter costume which meant that he had been out on an overnight patrol.” And later, “Sensing my growing anxiety, the ever-practical Lakshman remarked with jocularity, ‘Rama, I don’t mind the journey to Mithila, but before anything else, you really need to have a bath………you stink, dear brother, to the heavens and back.’”
As for the plot, the story starts promisingly with a British officer seeing a vision of Rama and Lakshmana but after that the narrative peters out with too many flashbacks. Book 1 covers no new ground as far as the story of Rama is concerned, except for one or two veiled references to the crystal.
Finally the characters of Rama, his brothers, Dasaratha and the sages reveal no new insights. The female characters who have very minor roles, have no fresh lines to speak!
“Sita opened her eyes and smiled sweetly as she saw me studying her adoringly. ‘My lord, my heart overflows with love and joy to see you in the first light of day………’”
The rest is silence!
By Usha Mukunda
The Exiled Prince Book 1.
The Crystal Guardian Series.
Price: Rs. 199.00