Rise, O Mighty Rakshasas! The time has come for us to give these warriors of Light a reason to fear the Dark.
Well isn’t that ominous? Frightening though this may sound, one needs to delve into the pages of this book of 442 pages before drawing a conclusion.
In a nutshell
Interesting and engaging, ‘Rakshasas – The Shadow Warriors’ has at its core a threat so great that even the Devas struggle to contain it. The threat is from their arch rivals the Asuras, now marching unhindered across the world under the leadership of the much feared and ruthless Naraka who like his name is known to spell doom on anyone that comes his way. With Naraka setting his eyes on the land of the seven rivers Bharata, Jayanta the new ruler installed by Manu the lawgiver, has a lot on his hands. As Jayanta prepares for the Asura invasion, a potent threat is rising in the vast forests of Dandaka. Vidyutkesa — the only survivor ofa genocide perpetrated by Jayanta — has journeyed into its heart and made contact with the Order of the Sarpa, an ancient and powerful secret society headed by Queen Manasa. With the blessings of Raksha, the Earth Spirit, the Sarpas transform Vidyutkesa and his companions into supernatural beings called Rakshasas. Their mission: to protect their land, forests, and way of life.
Intricate and gripping, this second book in the Vedic Trilogy takes the reader through a maze of plots that run simultaneously and throws up a few surprises. However, what I liked best was that it does not show the struggle between the earth worshipping feminine cultures and the patriarchal forces that seek to tame her and look upon her as just a breeding machine, as one sided. Here you will find some truly strong and determined feminine characters who are ready to fight to the end as well as make a sacrifice without batting an eyelid, for the cause for which they stand / their people. They are crafty, intelligent and ones with a vision that is worth their sacrifice. They are not cowed down by the might of even the mightiest. In comparison the male who are out to tame them, pale.
Another interesting aspect is that unlike most mytho- fictions this one is not limited to one within a particular country or civilization nor are the Devas seen as all powerful. Instead, the story wraps within its fold a vast portion of the world. It criss-crosses across continents, and one can’t help but go back in time and revisit the geography classes one attended decades ago when just a kid. Here the Devas come across as mortals who later became Gods. Yet they have their failings and vices, both of which are akin to that witnessed in mere mortals.
The rich tapestry, the vivid descriptions and the suspense that’s built up right from the word ‘go,’ take the reader on a journey that is far from predictable. Here each twist, each turn is not what one foresees. In fact after the first few pages one stops guessing where the story is headed for and decides to just read, allow the story to seep in, imbibe and enjoy.
The characters, a vast cast, are well developed and do justice to the author’s skill as a script-writer. One can easily enter into their shoes and live their part in the story, thanks to every detail that’s given there, and of course the author’s style and command over the language. Narrated in easy, crisp and lucid language, the book is nothing short of a smooth and exhilarating journey through a period that one has just heard of.
The pace once set continues till the end. There are no slack moments nor rushed ones, making the read truly worth the time spent. However a word of caution to those wanting to pick up this book- Don’t pick it up if you are in a hurry. This is one book that needs to be read slowly. In fact, I believe this is one that you need to revisit again to really get the feel.
What have I taken away from the book?
1) A lot in terms of mythological characters. Many were new to me.
2) A better understanding of Manu the lawgiver.
3) The following quotes-
a) Society mustn’t adapt according to the need of the law, it’s the law that must adapt to the needs of the society.
b) The human race has corrupted. They no longer believe they’re one. They’ll breed incessantly like vermin; kill each other and all other life forms in this world till they’re exterminated. Regrettably, that’s their future.
Reading this book was truly an enriching experience. Dotted with mystical elements and supernatural sightings, it is a one of its kind. So if you are interested in mythology, try this one. You won’t regret it. I sure enjoyed it and am waiting for the next in the series.
Author(s): Rajiv G Menon
Release: June 2018
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