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  1. Scion of Ikshvaku book review: Discovering Ram

Scion of Ikshvaku book review: Discovering Ram

Scion of Ikshvaku Amish Tripathi Westland Pp 376 R350 Amish Tripathi had told FE in an interview that the stories in his books are not his imagination; he just ‘discovers’ them. However, going by the Meluha series and the first book of the Ram Chandra series, the department is solely for the readers, who discover […]

By: | Published: July 12, 2015 12:09 AM

Scion of Ikshvaku
Amish Tripathi
Westland
Pp 376
R350

Amish Tripathi had told FE in an interview that the stories in his books are not his imagination; he just ‘discovers’ them. However, going by the Meluha series and the first book of the Ram Chandra series, the department is solely for the readers, who discover the extent of Amish’s imagination, as he expertly twists and turns popular mythological stories into bestsellers.

The Scion of Ikshvaku is what could be called a modern take on the Ramayan, with Amish taking the familiar story further, or sideways, with his own interpretation of events. The proverbial poetic licence has been used to maximum limit, as we discover a ladies man in Bharat or a lathi-wielding Sita.

The story is set in the Sapt Sindhu, tracing the generations of the Raghuvanshis, of which Ikshvaku was the first, with Ram being his descendant. Two things stand out in the book—the ‘humanisation’ of the characters, who are not the idols of morality as we have been reading all these years, having the same failings as any human would, and the ‘superwomen’. The women are not depicted as weak, obedient creatures, but people with considerable physical and mental strength. Kaikeyi is not just ambitious; she accompanies her husband to war and saves him from sure death, sustaining battle wounds herself in the process.

Sita is not a coy, shy girl who Ram sees in a garden accompanied by friends and maids. She nabs a thief in full public view in a scene that is more reminiscent of a Salman Khan or Ajay Devgn movie than the Ramayan. She manages to swing a stick from the ground with one foot, hits the thief and makes little of the wrongdoer. Ram merely watches from the sidelines, as she has ‘things under control’. She wants Ram to practice stringing the bow before her swayamvar so he doesn’t err. When she faces an attack by Shurpanakha, who tries to drown her, Sita hauls the demon by her hair and brings her to task.

Coming to Ram, Amish presents him in a human avatar, someone who has lied, succumbed to pressure, fallen in love and felt physical desire. However, Ram does always take the moral high ground, and things get a bit tiring when the author delivers endless lessons on dharma and morality through Ram’s thoughts.

But his brothers are far from it. Bharat has numerous girlfriends and gets dumped by the one he truly loves. He admits he wanted the throne, “though not like this”. He strays from the law and kills a convict in cold blood. Lakshman has no qualms in speaking out his mind and no illusions of a perfect world.

Most interestingly, Raavan is not a black and white character, but one with multiple shades of grey, and only one head instead of 10. Even the Raghuvanshi descendants are forced to agree that Raavan is a better king than their father, Dashrath. More mythological shocks appear as Amish dramatically turns things around: Manthara is not a maid, but a mega-rich businesswoman who manipulates even the queen with her money.

The book is not loaded with action as his previous works, but as Amish has plans to write at least six books in the series, it serves as an opening scene. Culminating it at a cliffhanger, when Raavan abducts Sita and Ram and Lakshman are left watching helplessly as the Pushpak Vimaan whirls away, is sure to lure readers to the next book.

Amish achieved mega success with his Shiva trilogy, and has established with his latest one that he’s, indeed, a writer for the masses. One grouse though: Wish the publishers had used better quality paper for printing!

Amish Tripathi had told FE in an interview that the stories in his books are not his imagination; he just ‘discovers’ them. However, going by the Meluha series and the first book of the Ram Chandra series, the department is solely for the readers, who discover the extent of Amish’s imagination, as he expertly twists and turns popular mythological stories into bestsellers.

The Scion of Ikshvaku is what could be called a modern take on the Ramayan, with Amish taking the familiar story further, or sideways, with his own interpretation of events. The proverbial poetic licence has been used to maximum limit, as we discover a ladies man in Bharat or a lathi-wielding Sita.

The story is set in the Sapt Sindhu, tracing the generations of the Raghuvanshis, of which Ikshvaku was the first, with Ram being his descendant. Two things stand out in the book—the ‘humanisation’ of the characters, who are not the idols of morality as we have been reading all these years, having the same failings as any human would, and the ‘superwomen’. The women are not depicted as weak, obedient creatures, but people with considerable physical and mental strength. Kaikeyi is not just ambitious; she accompanies her husband to war and saves him from sure death, sustaining battle wounds herself in the process.

Sita is not a coy, shy girl who Ram sees in a garden accompanied by friends and maids. She nabs a thief in full public view in a scene that is more reminiscent of a Salman Khan or Ajay Devgn movie than the Ramayan. She manages to swing a stick from the ground with one foot, hits the thief and makes little of the wrongdoer. Ram merely watches from the sidelines, as she has ‘things under control’. She wants Ram to practice stringing the bow before her swayamvar so he doesn’t err. When she faces an attack by Shurpanakha, who tries to drown her, Sita hauls the demon by her hair and brings her to task.

Coming to Ram, Amish presents him in a human avatar, someone who has lied, succumbed to pressure, fallen in love and felt physical desire. However, Ram does always take the moral high ground, and things get a bit tiring when the author delivers endless lessons on dharma and morality through Ram’s thoughts.

But his brothers are far from it. Bharat has numerous girlfriends and gets dumped by the one he truly loves. He admits he wanted the throne, “though not like this”. He strays from the law and kills a convict in cold blood. Lakshman has no qualms in speaking out his mind and no illusions of a perfect world.

Most interestingly, Raavan is not a black and white character, but one with multiple shades of grey, and only one head instead of 10. Even the Raghuvanshi descendants are forced to agree that Raavan is a better king than their father, Dashrath. More mythological shocks appear as Amish dramatically turns things around: Manthara is not a maid, but a mega-rich businesswoman who manipulates even the queen with her money.

The book is not loaded with action as his previous works, but as Amish has plans to write at least six books in the series, it serves as an opening scene. Culminating it at a cliffhanger, when Raavan abducts Sita and Ram and Lakshman are left watching helplessly as the Pushpak Vimaan whirls away, is sure to lure readers to the next book.
Amish achieved mega success with his Shiva trilogy, and has established with his latest one that he’s, indeed, a writer for the masses. One grouse though: Wish the publishers had used better quality paper for printing!

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