The Bridge between Despair and Hope


After an impatient wait of more than a month, I finally laid my hands on the third book of the Vikramaditya Veergatha series, ‘The Vengeance of Indra’. Curveballs of life again delayed my reading by a couple of weeks which was disappointing, to say the least. Having overcome some of the obstacles, I finally managed to finish the book earlier this week.

‘The Vengeance of Indra’ is slower compared to the pace set by the predecessors in the series. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any excitement or that there are dull moments. The excitement that this brings is in the build-up of what is to come in the final book of the series. I think the speed had to be curtailed because of the position of the story. It’s just like a battle – you take stock of the position you are in before drawing a hectic battle line again.

The interesting thing about this book is that most of the councilors of Vikramaditya are away from Ujjayini. This was necessitated by a lot of things and one would think with Ujjayini’s guard a little down, the devas and asuras would take the bull by its horns. There is a feeling of uneasiness, and quite naturally so. The devas and asuras continue to plot and there are quite a few natural outcomes to the way the story develops. There is this uneasiness among the allies as well and one really hopes the relationship stays taut.

What stands out in this book is human nature. Shatrujeet has continued to delve into the mind of the characters from where he left off in ‘The Conspiracy at Meru’. You have good vs. evil, attack vs. defense, confidence vs. confusion, honesty vs. treachery, betrayal vs. redemption all interwoven beautifully into the tale. This compensates for the lack of battle scenes, the kind of which we see in the first two books. It’s intriguing and engaging. In a sense, it’s a battle – of the minds. There is an air of impending danger at the conclusion – a harbinger of things to come.

I remembered a shloka apparently penned by the legendary Kalidasa, which I had first read some 20 years back. The shloka runs like this:

ख्यातो वराहमिहिरो नृपतेः सभायां
रत्नानी वै वररुचिर्नव विक्रमस्य|

(In King Vikrama’s court there were the nine gems by the names of Dhanvantri, Kshapanaka, Amara Simha, Shanku, Vetal Bhatta, Ghatakarpara, Kalidasa, the renowned Varahamihira and Vararuchi).

Hope the nine gems and the Samrat remain intact at the conclusion of the series, their stories as immortal as the shloka.

I really can’t wait for the ‘The Wrath of the Hellfires’. It will be one hell of a read, methinks. I’m giving a rating of 4.5 on 5 for ‘The Vengeance of Indra’. The author deserves kudos for keeping the reader engaged throughout the series. It’s no mean feat considering the waning interest in mythology in India. Tales like these will not just add an imaginative dimension to mythology but also rekindle an interest in understanding the original mythology.


A Bolt of Lightning


If you have read my review of the first book of the Vikramaditya Veergatha series by Shatrujeet Nath, then you would know how much I loved it. Immediately after finishing ‘The Guardians of the Halahala’, I took up the second book of the series – ‘The Conspiracy at Meru’. To tell you the truth, this was like a bolt of lightning.

We are introduced to a lot more characters in this book. To the credit of the author as well as the story, none of the characters are excess to the requirements because each of them has a role to play. After the kind of battering that the humans received, one would think they are on the verge of losing out to the forces that are hell-bent on acquiring for themselves the potent weapon which Lord Shiva had asked Samrat Vikramaditya to guard. But the humans are resilient.

Before they know it, they are under attack again. This time also, the battle scenes are so full of imagery that I could visualize it in my mind’s eye. It gave me goosebumps. The description of the Vyalas, Ahi, and Yaksha are quite imaginative, I should say. You get to know a lot more about the characters – their thought processes, their convictions, their weaknesses. Vikramaditya’s unbridled love for his queen, the sub-plot involving Ghatakarpara and Aparupa and of course Kalidasa and his mysterious past all make for some edge-of-the-seat reading. The councilors continue to realize their potential which leaves a smile on your face.

When we have so much misogyny around us these days, it’s quite refreshing to see how the author has two powerful female characters in Kshapanaka and Shanku, both of whom find a place in the top 5 characters I love in the series. True to human nature, the Samrat has his detractors also. This is something that would have been accurate during those times when power was something that kings and princes chased fervently. These power struggles are similar to what we see today, but in those times, it definitely was in a different form and a different vein.

The way the book ends, it leaves you with no doubt that the future will not be without more struggles. All the more reason to know how the humans respond to what the devas and asuras will throw at them next. I’m giving ‘The Conspiracy at Meru’ a rating of 4.75 on 5 simply because of the pace at which the story moves.

A Revelation of a Book


Mythology has deeply fascinated me since childhood. So has History and Geography. I adore fiction. Therefore, if someone were to hand me a book that is a combination of all these, I would devour it. There was one such series about which I hadn’t known until a chance talk with Vinay, a dear friend. Debdatta, another friend who I met last year, gifted me the first book of the series and Vinay gifted me the second one. However, life threw me enough curveballs that I couldn’t bring myself to read those books until the start of this year.

This is a review of the first book of the series. This was a revelation, I should say. Taking King Vikramaditya and his famed nine councilors and weaving that into a mytho-fiction with the devas and asuras in tow was a masterstroke. Once you get to know the many characters, this is a very fascinating tale moving at a nice pace. This being the first book of the series, it pays to have patience to read this meticulously.

If you knew God would hand over a potent weapon to a human king to guard it from the devas and asuras, your logical mind would fathom that it would have dire consequences and the humans would need everything in their armory to thwart the forces that are out there to covet it at any cost. This is why the characterization as well as the way the story progresses is exemplary. I found the portrayal of The Ashvins, the Maruts, Andhaka, Hellfires and Veeshada’s dagger really good – so good that the imagery stayed with me even after finishing the book. The author is blessed with an immense command of the language which is so essential to create the kind of imagery that the story evokes.

The other thing I liked is the subtlety with which the councilors realize their potential. I’m not going to add spoilers here because you have to read it to experience it. The chapter headings are short and crisp and the author has done a good job of creating manageable sub-plots which are equally intriguing as the main one.

I really enjoyed reading this and at the end of the book wished that I had read it much earlier. But then everything has its time, they say. Perhaps, my time for reading ‘The Guardians of the Halahala’, the first in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series by Shatrujeet Nath came at the right time. I would give this a rating of 4.5 on 5. This certainly is a must-read for a mythology as well as a mytho-fiction fan.

The Light of Life


Penury had its severe hold;
A dark and scary path ahead.
Empty bowls stared at them,
Hunger pangs shooting through.

Despair had nothing to say,
But willed weak tears to flow.
Between life and death was,
Just a little path to cross.

Then they heard the footsteps;
And saw the plates and glasses.
Their saviors had come at last;
To help see the light of life again.

Linking this with #WednesdayVerses as I join Vinay and Reema on a weekly journey of poems. The prompt for this week is ‘Light’.

Our Resolution


Dried leaves breaking away,
Is a resolution to be back green.
A sweet kiss goodnight,
Is a resolution to see tomorrow.
The troubles of today,
Is a resolution for happy tidings.
The sky is not alone in blackness;
Stars bond in perfect fellowship.
Promises take time to fruition;
But they will eventually.
It should be our resolution,
To move heaven and earth.
For when promise is perfected,
We’ll soar on its wings.

Linking this with #WednesdayVerses as I join Vinay and Reema on a weekly journey of poems. The prompt for this week is ‘Resolutions in Verse’.


Christmas Musings


I am celebrating the spirit of Christmas with the #UnwrapChristmas blogpost chain. I am thankful to Ankita Shukla for passing on the baton of spreading Christmas joy and spirit to me.

My first memory of Christmas was when I was probably 7 years old. The carols quite grabbed my attention; as did Santa Claus. The red and white of the Santa was quite an attractive combination and the snowy white beard added to the appeal. I was hooked to Santa Claus. From then on, Christmas was something I looked forward to – for the stars, the decorations, Santa and of course the scrumptious cakes!

For me, Christmas is a time to reflect on the year that has gone by and prepare myself for a new beginning. With just a week separating Christmas and New Year, it’s that time of the year when I think most about the good and bad things I did. Christ’s birth and the good deeds he did is always inspiring. I think the timing of Christmas couldn’t be any better. Every year is not the same; some end quite well while others go the opposite direction. Either way, this time of the year means so much to me – to thank for the good times I had and to hope for good times ahead.

It’s also a time I see a lot of warmth and love. It’s infectious and I also end up paying it forward. The happiness and contentment that you get by spreading joy all around is indescribable. I tend to think a lot on why we cannot do this all through the year and not just for Christmas. We are so bogged down by life and its vagaries that we fail to make that little time, that subtle adjustment which can change hatred to love, sorrow to joy and enmity to friendship. The spirit of Christmas may be an intangible thing; however, when you channel that to actions that are directed at the common good, what you see is a remarkable, tangible change around you. I wish people appreciated this more and converted the spirit of Christmas to what I call ‘Spirit of Human Lifetime’.

Lastly, Christmas reminds me to be happy. When I see all the colors around, the beautiful music and the bubbly Santa, I feel happy for being alive. Christmas has a way of channeling the morose me into a happy me. I think it’s very important to be happy because it makes us positive. Being positive helps us appreciate the colors around us, the happiness around us, and be very much a part of it. All festivals have this uncanny ability to drive your sorrows away and make you happy in the present. Christmas is the last festival of the year, and that is an additional reason for me to be happy and peaceful. Life can wait, there is Christmas around now!

Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas!

I now invite Ramya Rao to carry forth the Christmas cheer.

 An InLinkz Link-up

Unity Lessons


They filed out of the ant-hill in a line. Rishabh’s eyes were transfixed on the ants as they made their journey. A loud voice from inside the home jolted him from his reverie.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” his father was shouting.

“What the hell is wrong is with you?” he heard his mother shout back.

Rishabh felt sadness welling up inside him. His parents seemed incapable of stopping their fights.

The ants were now inside the home in their unified, undisturbed line. Rishabh had a wry smile on his face as he wondered if they ever quarreled.