Category Archives: Mythology

The Thirteenth Day: A Story of the Kurukshetra War by Aditya Iyengar

The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyengar Title: The Thirteenth Day: A Story of the Kurukshetra War
Author: Aditya Iyengar
Publisher: Rupa Publications
ISBN: 978-8129134752
Genre: Fiction, Myths
Pages: 260
Source: Author
Rating: 4/5

I have always maintained that mythology must not be tampered with. I am sort of wary of the idea of retellings (so-called) and drifting away from the original or the real deal. It somehow scares me to read something like that. Having said that, I was quite taken by surprise by a book that had a retelling (of sorts) and somehow also stuck close to the original plot (had no choice given it was the Mahabharata).

Aditya Iyengar’s “The Thirteenth Day” is about the thirteenth day (well of course) but it a part of the war that is known only on the surface to most. It is the day when Yudhisthira, Radheya and Abhimanyu collide on the battlefield and what is the past and present to that day. It is about Abhimanyu majorly and how the story moves ahead using the “chakravyuh” as the core metaphor (at least that is what I interpreted from it).

There have been a lot of retellings of the Mahabharata – there is no dearth of stories out there on the epic. Then why must you read this book?

The book is no frills. It is simple, clear and tells a story that is riveting and keeps you hooked. What else do you need from a book?

The narration is in first person, which I am most comfortable with and might I add that it is most difficult to write a book in first person. The danger of losing the plot or the readers’ interest is quite high. However, Aditya never manages to do any of that at any point.

The thing with retelling or writing a story from the Mahabharata is that your research has to be five folds over and nitpicked. If that is not then, then you have already set yourself up for failure. But this book doesn’t do that. The research is thorough – so much so the minor characters also stand out and sometimes have their own stories to tell. There is also the element of surrealism (in some places) and it doesn’t at any point become an impediment but only helps the story move ahead. There are a lot of layers and sub-layers to Mahabharata. One cannot write about it and not be swayed to include some of them, which is what also happens in this narrative and that works for the book at every page.

The reason I am not talking much about the plot is that I would really want more people to read this book and experience it for themselves. A read that I would urge you to pick up because it is a fresh voice and tells the old tale with that voice harnessed all along.

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The Thirteenth Day : A Story of the Kurukshetra War (English)

The Thirteenth Day: A Story of the Kurukshetra War

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D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d'Aulaire and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire Title: D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
Authors: Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-0440406945
Genre: Mythology, Children’s books
Pages: 192
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I have always been fascinated by Greek myths. There is something about them right – from their Gods and Goddesses to also the most obvious heroes and monsters – something so incestuous (which is how we would think) about them to not be involved in their myths. And it is not only that aspect that fascinates me, it is the entire gamut – right from how the universe was created according to these myths to how Zeus’s insecurity when it comes to ruling the world or the universe as it may to all the Gods and Goddesses and their quirks and eccentricities.

At the same time, it isn’t easy to read Greek myths – not the version of Robert Graves – well not immediately and with the Percy Jackson series doing the rounds – sometimes you don’t even know which God is God of what and the other – so you have to start somewhere, right? For me, the best place to start was technically a children’s book of Greek myths and let me tell you that I also recommend it to every adult who wants to use it as a primer, so to say.

“D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths” has been in print for more than forty years now and that says a lot about the book. The artwork and the stories both are as enthralling as ever – I know I fell in love with this book for sure – I mean who couldn’t and who wouldn’t? The d’Aulaires make Greek myths so easy with their simple writing and telling of those myths – it may seem to be for younger ears but to me it is for everyone. A must read for those interested in Greek myths.

Rise of Kali: Duryodhana’s Mahabharata (Ajaya Book 2) by Anand Neelakantan

Rise of Kali - Duryodhana's Mahabharata - Ajaya Book 2 by Anand Neelakantan Title: Rise of Kali: Duryodhana’s Mahabharata (Ajaya Book 2)
Author: Anand Neelakantan
Publisher: Platinum Press
ISBN: 978-9381576045
Genre: Mythology
Pages: 530
Source: Booksense
Rating: 4/5

Mythology according to me should strictly be pure. I don’t know, I may be wrong, but I do not like everyone’s point of view when it comes to mythology. Ajaya as is said is the story of the Mahabharata told from the perspective of the Kauravas. I was quite hesitant to read this. I had not read the first book Roll of the Dice so I read that one and then I lapped this one up quite immediately. I must say though I enjoyed “Rise of Kali” a lot more than “Roll of the Dice”.

“Rise of Kali” is about Duryodhana and his story and role to play in the epic. It is about dharma and adharma. The book is well-structured and most of it is well-written. It is also quite interesting, but somehow I thought it was just way too long to finish in one sitting. Having said that, “Rise of Kali” gives you an over-all perspective on the Mahabharata. May be that is the reason I enjoyed it as well.

“Rise of Kali” is all about Suyodhana (Duryodhana) and about his conflict of emotions between right and wrong and why he does what he does. That struck me as something which I had never thought of, because of my prejudices.

The book tests your patience as well. It is difficult to get into it initially but once the reader has, it is a different ball game altogether. I thought that Karna’s character was detailed quite well in the book and that is something which I really enjoyed.

Anand Neelakantan draws on the characters quite well and that is something which is quite difficult to do and maintain in a book like this, given the scope of it all. I must also say that all in all, I enjoyed the book a lot. I think it will appeal to everyone who wants to see mythology differently.

The Curse of Surya by Dev Prasad

The Curse of Surya by Dev Prasad Title: The Curse of Surya
Author: Dev Prasad
ISBN: 9788184006223
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Booksense
Rating: 3.5/5

I never thought I would like “The Curse of Surya” but I ended up enjoying it a lot. It is a fast-paced book that ends before you even know it and leaves you hankering for more. It is a thriller set across Singapore and India which is perfect for Ashwin Sanghi fans and will also appeal to Aroon Raman’s readers.

It is a thriller based on Indian mythology and about the quest for Shyamantaka – a jewel believed to have been lost for 5000 years. Sangeeta Rao, the protagonist is a TV anchor in Singapore who drops everything to go to Agra for a special story and that is when she gets embroiled with a Welshman Alan Davies to find the jewel and go through a lot of trials and tribulations.

The thing about the book is the story. The plot is the king and that’s how it should be. The characters are well-etched and the banter between Sangeeta and Alan is worth it. It also has a wry sense of humour in some places, which is refreshing.

The writing sometimes seems a bit tepid but carries pace when it has to and saves the day. I loved the way the book was written and the chapters kept revealing the plot lines, keeping me glued to the edge of the seat.

“The Curse of Surya” is the perfect book to be read on a flight. Before you know it, it is over and done with. If someone asks me what thriller they must read next, which will get over soon and which will keep them hooked, I will recommend this one.

Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters by Chindu Sreedharan

Epic Retold by Chindu Sreedharan Title:Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters
Author: Chindu Sreedharan
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9350293951
Genre: Mythology, Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are now perspectives in mythology. This one’s perspective and that one’s. Maybe as readers we are just too used to such perspectives out in the form of books and what each one has to say about the epics and the lesser-known characters or the more well-known ones. There are different ways and means also to project this – sometimes with illustrations and sometimes through other unique ways of writing. Off late, it is the 140-character stories or through flash-fiction. While I do not read books in the so-called “new formats”, this time around, “Epic Retold: #Mahabharata #TwitterFiction #Bhima #140Characters” by Chindu Sreedharan managed to hold my attention, right from the start to the end.

Initially, the book was difficult to get into. For the life of me, I could not get myself to read a book in the form of tweets with hashtags. It just seemed inappropriate to me. And then as I started turning the pages, I was intrigued and sucked in so to say in the story. The difference in this format is that you as a reader feel that all the action is happening live, in front of you, when of course you know that it has been thousands of years since those events occurred.

Bhima has to me always been a fascinating character. He is strong. He is abled. He is also quite a mush-pot, from what mythology has to depict. At the same time, he is also the one who can snap the neck of an opponent in less than a minute. There is a lot going on with this character from the Mahabharata and yet the only brothers we ever know or speak of are Yudhistar or Arjuna. The other three are almost forgotten, which is not the case when it comes to this book.

Chindu Sreedharan tells the Mahabharata from Bhima’s perspective and through tweets. The book is written in an easy-to-read manner and does not just skim through the details. It might seem that way because of the format, but the format also works for the book because it is not lengthy, nor does it put too much pressure on the reader.

“Epic Retold” may just be one of its kind of book in a format that will work for more books to come. I enjoyed it a lot and if you are looking for a book that is mythological in nature, but with a different spin to it, then I recommend this one. A short read but highly satisfying.

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