I love reading books in the mythology genre. This has more to do with learning of such stories through my childhood. The characters have stayed in my heart since then. Many authors have tried basing their fiction in Indian mythology. Some have failed, others have succeeded. One of the books/series in the latter category, according to me, is The Guardians of the Halahala from the Vikramaditya Veergatha series by Shatrujeet Nath. The book surprised me because it came from an author whose first work was in a totally different genre.
When devas (gods) and asuras (demons) sought amrita (the nectar of immortality), they worked together to churn the ocean of milk. With good comes bad. While they sought amrita, the ocean also brought out the all consuming poison, the halahala, which Lord Shiva swallowed to protect the world from destruction. The Guardians of the Halahala is set on the premise that a cunning demon stole a part of the deadly poison, but Shiva noticed the deception, stopped the demon and trapped the part of the Halahala in a dagger. This dagger is given by the Lord into the protection of Vikramaditya, the human king and his council. Word reaches the Devas and Asuras of this powerful poison, and they seek possession of the dagger, setting into action a battle between the three worlds of Devas, Manushyas and Asuras.
A book with lot of positives in its favor…
To this day, this book remains one that I recommend to friends. Many ask me why I am so fond of Shatrujeet’s writing. My first reply to that is that his stories are different. It was the premise of this book that first attracted me when Shatrujeet asked me if I’d be interested in reading the book. And it is a book that kept me hooked from first page to last. I feel that by itself is a mark of a successful story. I’ve reread this book twice. Each reread felt just as interesting. There are a lot of characters weaving in and out of the storyline but there isn’t much confusion as to who is who. And the characterization is strong. I love that there are women who are front and centre in the battle, be it as advisors or warriors.
Memorable and easy-to-imagine scenes
The scenes play in my mind, help me to not just understand the emotions but to feel them too. Knowing Indian mythology, and its picturization on TV, some scenes are memorable, like the one where Lord Shiva reveals himself from the disguise. I expected Betaal’s involvement in the story but didn’t expect it to happen in the way it did. There is politics and family drama on the sides too, adding more oomph to the tale. I’m personally not very fond of politics so my initial read had that as a flipside. But over time, I have come to believe that what had been set up in this novel worked out for the good of the series as a whole.
Now awaiting Book 4…
Having read not just this book but the next two in the series, I know this is one series I can’t get enough of. There’s one book left, and that’s the book I’m most looking forward to in 2019. Fingers crossed that that happens. If you are looking for a fantasy fiction based on Indian mythology, I think this is the book for you. It’s bound to reel you in, and before you know it, you’d have read the next two too.
PS: The cover art shared here is the first edition cover, not the recent one. I show this because I love this more, something I might have indicated to Shatrujeet more than one time I think. 😉
This is the 10th year of the #AtoZChallenge and my tenth year attempting it. My theme this year is Books – Read and Loved. As evident by the theme, I am going to write on books I’ve read and loved.
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