Book Review: Rebellion (Warlord of Ayodhya, #1) by Shatrujeet Nath

About the Book:

Bharat. Son of Kaikeyi. Brother of Rama. Reluctant king of Kosala.

Bharat’s carefree life in Kekeya is turned upside down by the death of his father Raja Dashratha and the exile of his brother and crown prince Rama. Untrained in statecraft and unsure of himself, Bharat begins his rule over Kosala by tackling an audacious rakshasa attack on Ayodhya.

There’s more trouble brewing. As the magic that sustains the kingdom starts weakening and a drought looms over Kosala, Ayodhya’s citizens begin to disappear mysteriously. Ambitious aristocrats manipulate the inexperienced king to their ends, while fickle allies seize the opportunity to assert their independence. And unknown to Bharat, the Lord of Lanka has put a cunning plan into action that will break the back of Ayodhya’s resistance.

Beset by challenges, will Bharat lose Ayodhya so early in his reign?

Crackling with characters overlooked and forgotten by the Ramayana, Warlord of Ayodhya is a thrilling spinoff by bestselling fantasy author Shatrujeet Nath.

My Thoughts:

This book was my most anticipated read at the beginning of the year and it is definitely a favourite! Having read Shatrujeet’s Vikramaditya Veeragatha series, it was a no-brainer to pick this up and I knew in advance that I would love it! There was no doubt about it and I was not disappointed.

Everyone knows the epic Ramayana, but how many of us actually stopped to think about the other people and the lives of the Ayodhyan’s during Rama’s 14 year exile? How many of us stopped to think about Bharat and his struggles to rule in the absence of his brother? Well, Shatrujeet Nath thought of this! He imagined how the life of Bharat could have been as he took over the rule of the kingdom and thus this series was born.

This is the first book in the series and sets the stage for what comes next as the title aptly suggests. As is usual with Shatrujeet’s style of writing, there are a variety of characters, each with an agenda of their own. What was interesting to read about was Bharat’s relationship with his mother and his feelings towards her. It is clear that a lot of planning and research went into crafting the plot. Additionally, with a threat to Ayodhya’s magic and the hint of the Lord of Lanka’s interest in Ayodhya, the reader’s interest is certainly piqued.

While the Ramayan focuses on Rama and Sita’s journey, their exile, Sita’s kidnapping and finally their return to Ayodhya, this series seeks to bring out the other side of the story. A little known side with characters who were never in focus and who now have a chance to have their story told! Shatrujeet Nath is indeed a master storyteller and a genius to create and write this story. In my opinion, this book and all books by the author are a must read!

Book Review: The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Having read The Palace of Illusions by Chita Divakaruni, it was a no-brainer to pick up this book! Read on to know my thoughts on this must read book!

About the Book:

The Forest of Enchantments

The Ramayana, one of the world’s greatest epics, is also a tragic love story. In this brilliant retelling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni places Sita at the centre of the novel: this is Sita’s version.

The Forest of Enchantments is also a very human story of some of the other women in the epic, often misunderstood and relegated to the margins: Kaikeyi, Surpanakha, Mandodari. A powerful comment on duty, betrayal, infidelity and honour, it is also about women’s struggle to retain autonomy in a world that privileges men, as Chitra transforms an ancient story into a gripping, contemporary battle of wills.

While the Ramayana resonates even today, she makes it more relevant than ever, in the underlying questions in the novel: How should women be treated by their loved ones? What are their rights in a relationship? When does a woman need to stand up and say, ‘Enough!’

My Thoughts:

A scintillating read, The Forest of Enchantments will take the reader on a journey with Sita as the protagonist. The story follows her from childhood to adulthood and highlights the Ramayana from her point of view.

We are introduced to Ram, Lakshman and even Raavan as they are seen by Sita. The entire story focuses on her journey and what she felt through it. It is a wonderful take on the Ramayana and strongly brings out the feelings and opinions of the women in the story.

The author brings out the contrast in characters and ensures that the reader is interested in reading the book. There is not even one moment when the reader will wonder why they are reading the book. Even though we might have already read the Ramayana, Sita’s perspective is something none of us stop to think about. It is a re-telling like no other, exploring the views of the women in the story and introducing the reader to them.

The strength of the women, the resolve and their actions shape the course of the story and give us a different view of the same events we are familiar with. Chitra succeeds in humanizing all the characters and making them more relatable. We are forced to think about their points of view, their circumstances and give them the benefit of doubt. The author brings enough doubt to the idea of good and bad, focussing on the grey areas and the fact that there could be more to how we perceive things.

This is perhaps one of the best written books and I can promise that the readers will be left spell bound!