Ram of the Clans!

Scion of Ikshvaku!
Oh thank God!

This is something I have been wanting to do for a while now. I was so caught up with the fact that this may be a stale review, considering the fact that I got to read the book a little later than most of my peeps, but hey I write for myself! So here goes. This is my review of Amish’s latest book ‘Scion of Ikshvaku’, Part 1 of the Ramchandra Series.

Amish is the kind of author who seems affable. His characters are the ones you are probably familiar with in an extremely mythical fashion, as passed on to you by your mother or grandmother. That’s where Amish’s brilliantly capable mind wanders in and makes you smile as you see how he has rationally tried to decipher the character and the situation, so that it appeals to incredulous souls like me who rubbish mythology and fantasies (Harry Potter is an exception!). The author has created a wonderful sketch of the characters and keeps the reader on his toes constantly by constantly exposing small details about a character which makes you re-think your previous opinion on him. Suffice it to say that Amish is my current literary crush and this is one of the best I’ve read of his works.

The book is a prequel to the Shiva Trilogy- The Immortals of Meluha, Secret of the Nagas and Oath of the Vayuputras. Since it’s a prequel, it ought to provide the foundation for the Trilogy, which you realise after connecting the dots, is so intricately woven. The author completely understands the current society, its requirements and its deficits and he is able to deftly sculpt each characteristic of the protagonists (as well as the antagonist) in a fashion that will surprise and shock you at the same time! In the Shiva Trilogy, the entire paradigm on which the city is built, how the people conducted themselves and what contrasts the entire kingdom from the rest, was the selling point. When I read the Trilogy, I often wondered, ‘They keep mentioning Ram and Ramrajya, what could have possibly happened then? Was Ram really the self-righteous, dharma-adopting-till-death man as mythology claims?’ Scion of Ikshvaku cleared all those doubts from my mind. It was a journey of Ram from his birth till his Vanvaas. Ram was perhaps the really good chap. In today’s world, I can’t even begin to imagine how someone this good could survive. He indeed seems to be the most righteous man in the world! This parallel was drawn beautifully and it is a laudable effort. An Indian mind holds on to its mythology and traditions as a child would to his chocolate, for that is his! At that moment, it makes him complete. To put a twist on those mythical angles, takes a whole-new level of imagination and if you’re journeying in this book, you’ll realise that right after the first chapter.     

My favourite character in the book would be hands-down Lakshman! I smiled and re-read that small passage about his lisp several times. The growth of baby Lakshman into a muscular, gigantic and handsome man is something you can physically see for yourself in your mind’s eye. As for his qualities, his devotion and life’s responsibility towards protection of Ram makes you want to go hug Lakshman and be proud of him. His simple, duty-bound nature surprises this generation a lot, that someone can love an elder brother this much, despite being no less a righteous man himself. I just can’t wait for Part 2 of the Series!

I was careful while drafting this review, to not pen the plot of the book, because those of you who haven’t read it, just drop whatever you’re doing and please just go live in Ayodhya! On the whole, Amish shouldn’t be proud that he’s authored 4 books, rather he should be proud that he’s created a Kingdom right from scratch, a Kingdom that’ll remain in the minds of the world and boggle it forever!

p.s. Image source: As always, Google (or now, Alphabet!)

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36 thoughts on “Ram of the Clans!

      1. Nope.. you know.. I might be a computer engineer and all that.. but my first love has always been literature and second fiddle is History..
        A friend raved and raved about his Shiva trilogy when it was first published and I went ahead and tried it. Still haven’t gone past the first thirty pages…
        For example, Ashok Banker and his view of the Ramayana, I could digest it (ok, totally lost it when during the preparations for Rama’s coronation there is a Malayali tea-seller on the streets etc.. it was gratuitous nonsense). But this was not just ill-informed but completely nonsensical. Now, since I assume you are a Tam-Brahm.. I would say you know the scriptures better than this fellow, know the tretha, dwapara yuga stories better than this cretin… It is neither faithful to history nor to mythology. It offended me. If it had been written as a satire I would have been delighted. But this fellow wrote all that tripe earnestly and a whole new generation of Indians then accepted it as the complete truth. Trust me, we dasyus, the dravida madrasi cretins must not, will not, be swayed by this Northern fantasy of a historical and mythological past. I know you probably read it as light reading, but I urge you to read more on the Indus civilization and why his nonsense makes my blood boil. If you could feel outraged about the Sanskrit-German controversy, you will probably be irked a lot more with this transparent bit of tom-foolery once you read a lot more about ancient Indian history.

        While I neither agree with Iravatham Mahadevan, who did some splendid research on the Indus Valley history or Asko Parpola for that matter, nor disagree with him completely, you must see that IVC has nothing to do with the Vedic Civilization nor with the concept of Suryavansha or Chandravansha.. it is like some half-baked wet dream that a nice Delhi boy had and thought he could pen down those ideas and make it a best-seller. I could not believe my eyes and ears when people started reading and raving about Amish…

        I am sorry to be so .. umm… dismissive.. or chauvinistic sounding (believe me, I am the last person on earth to be chauvinistic in that sense or even remotely nationalistic or gung-ho about historical/mythological might)… Amish irks me.. he is not even a good writer.. and while it may appeal to you and the rest of your younger generation I find it shallow and completely erroneous. It is misleading and I see on most forums young people talking through their hats based on what they have read in Amish…

        (Umm.. is it a tiff already or not?)

      2. Wow! That’s a lot of vehemence in one minute. I understand a lot of the facts may have been fudged up and that they don’t hold value to the era in which it has been depicted in. However, I’d like to think that it’s a fancy work of fiction and as much as a lot of people retaliated The DaVinci Code for having messed up the ‘facts’ (pardon my ignorance of the facts) all around, so much that it remained banned for children in Christian schools in Chennai. It was a good read as a work of fiction which used nothing but my imaginative capabilities and mug after mug of hot cocoa. I indeed agree that I don’t have the kind of command over history like you do but all this was just a pot of good lines and quotes, well-etched characters and satirical lines which leaves me thinking “How would it have been had this really existed?” Being the ignorant bum I am, I’d never realised or known that there’s a completely other side to it as well, until you told me. It appealed to my head where all the imagination is cooked, it appealed to my mind which created a whole new Meluha straight for me to occupy and my English sensors liked it for his use of language. I have read other books, not necessarily in this domain, including ones by Toni Morrison, one of the best writers in the contemporary world but again I think the whole part of enjoying something or not is highly subjective.
        Haha it may be a tiff, but what the hell. Lol!

      3. You are a bad influence on me, Potato… 😦
        I am sitting in the middle of the night, when I should be finishing my work.. and listening to Tamil songs..

        So in anticipation of your silence till tomorrow:
        Illai Illai solla oru ganam podhum
        Illai endra sollai thanguvadhendraal
        Innum Innum “Unakkoru” janmam vendum
        Commonsense thendralai jannalgal dhandiththal Nyayamaa, Nyayamaa?
        Rational kelvikku kangalin badhilenna mounamaa, mounamaa?

        Hahaha, ok, I did not actually hear THAT.. but good question.. and darn, now I will probably spend the entire night playing whatever YouTube suggests on the side… damn… my night is ruined too 🙂

      4. I don’t know how I missed replying to this! See potatoes are damn tasty and the lifeline for so many but they make you fat and gassy 😛 Rahman is my demi-God and sometimes Tamil songs are the soup to a lazy sad cold winter night 🙂

      5. 🙂 So yes, spent an hour or two last night listening to Rahman.. The odd thing is, when I was in college I first heard his music (I think it was puthiya mugam).. and no one else would listen to Tamil songs in those days.. suddenly, after that, people tell me.. there is this great new star etc.. and mustafa mustafa blaring all over the place hahaha.. I think Gentleman and Thiruda thiruda changed it all for him and for his listeners.
        My friend, Farhan, has a similar voice and is also greatly talented, but his family frowns on music… too bad.

        (I hesitate to say this now.. because we have laid it to rest, but your comparison to Dan Brown seems to be greatly misplaced. He did not rely on spurious history, even if a few sound like dubious apocryphal stories, but largely based on historical facts. Now I know you can say that it is possible to manipulate history in fiction. By all means, I welcome it. But when it is done so ineptly and when the person is singularly ignorant, then it jars the mind. You might think it is a result of a good imagination. It is not so. It is complete nonsense. But if it helps people read more, then by all means, let it be. I am just pointing out to the kind of literature that comes to be taken as based on history or that whatever is stated is not conjecture of the worst kind, but actual history. Allow me this one reply before we finally refuse to exhume the body again 🙂 It is patently unfair to compare it with Dan Brown’s work, even though it is similar in the approach that it uses conspiracy theories and apocryphal stories to derive its mileage. What you must know, and I strongly urge you to do so, is to read all you can about IVC and the people who lived then, and see why we must guard against people who want to call it a Vedic civilization or that it was some Aryan Meluha. Entirely another debate, but very pertinent. Why is it even important? you may ask. It is. Our entire concept of society and nation is being challenged at a very basic level. All that we stand for, or stood for, will disappear. And as I mentioned earlier, I am not a chauvinist or even consider myself a citizen of any one nation. I belong to the world and the world belongs to me. But overturning history in order to fabricate a present, is very much anathema to me. Probably you’re thinking that I get worked up over nothing. It may be so. First and foremost I am a pedant 🙂 Moreover, as I said earlier, his writing is faintly ridiculous for its anachronisms and the kind of jarring effort to make it modern makes me wince. I assure you I have stopped arguing about politics, literature, ideology, ethics or social practices since a long time except with close friends. I took liberties here because I liked most of everything else you wrote about. Do forgive me if I sound like a nasty old curmudgeon when I got into this topic. 🙂 I cannot change the world, so only gnothi seauton left to me, to introspect and change possibly. I did not write this to change your opinions, just to tell you an alternate view. Forgive me )

      6. Not at all! There’s no question of forgiving here. I perfectly respect your opinion and I’m glad you took the liberty to comment 🙂 Just that I never saw it that way, but I’ll do some reading up soon enough 🙂 Thanks a ton, buddy. 🙂

      7. Haha really good question. I was supposed to go ahead for my higher studies but that royally went down the drain this year. So I’m job-hunting at the moment 😀

      8. Oh dear!!
        Iyer studies would have been good, no? 😀

        Don’t give up on it, please. Maybe next year. Literature? I guess it would be.. 🙂

      9. I was really aiming at Creative Writing. Got into a damn good university but had to let it go because of visa trouble. They weren’t too happy to see me shifting careers 😦

      10. Visa trouble? Gosh!! what have you been doing? Messing around with the ISIS potatoes?

        But you know what? You will do extremely well in this field. I am sure of it. (Shifting careers implies they wanted you to stick to what? commerce? science? duh.. let me guess.. accountancy?)
        I suppose you want to do this creative writing in order to be a commercial writer? Why not do that now? Or do you think it would have more value then, after you have gone through that course?

        I hope you get into the next batch, though. I really do..

      11. Whoaa! Bingo! Accountancy 😛 Yeah I do write but I believe a degree would offer credibility for the big push forward. It sort of propels you miles ahead and that exposure is of paramount importance. Thanks a ton for that belief, I know you really mean it. I hope I get in too. 😀

      12. You will.. but start writing right away. Never mind the course 🙂 Yes, it offers credibility, but that does not mean you cannot do without it. Maybe it will refine your writing. But if you already start off, then by the time you finish the course you will probably learn to edit it better. I would love to read whatever you write. I have been such a lazy bum that I haven’t even finished two chapters so far and it looks like I am not going to finish this one either 😦
        Let us see.. race?? Whoever gets published first 🙂

      13. Haha! I’ve written about 50 pages which translates to nothing in publishing terms 😛 I still try, but at the moment a writing job is something I’m vying for. Read and write. That’s all I want to do for life 😀

      14. May I read those 50 pages? If it is not too private or too personal or not for public consumption, as yet?

        I might be an awful writer, but I am a really fierce critic (Ouch, that might sound like a negative thought. But I guess I am pretty fair too 🙂 and who knows, I will probably ask for more.. and then before you know it, you will have a book ready 🙂 )
        I guess you already know my mail id from the wordpress dashboard comments page. So if it is not sacred or hidden, could you please let me read those 50 pages? Please? Pweeze??
        I promise not steal anything hahaha..

      15. Haha I’ll definitely mail a copy to you but your critical self should know that I began this work eons ago so the writing may be crass here and there (or throughout :P). Starting the work eons ago and having written just about 50 pages doesn’t bode too well for me, does it ? 😀

      16. No, don’t worry about it.. I wrote my first book twenty something years ago.. I was asked to meet MV Kamath in Bombay who was a friend and who had a publisher friend (even though I detested his politics).. My bag got snatched in a train, in Dadar station. All the sheets flew out, my air tickets, cash, some gratuitous “phoren” gifts from a US-returned cousin and so on.. all strewn across the platform.. Frantically jumped out of the train, in fact got thrown out because I was scrambling and screeching.. then I tried to pick all the sheets (hand-written in those days).. and people were dragging me away, telling me I would get killed standing next to a running train.. And I wept and wept on that platform as I saw all the pages fly on to the shitty tracks..
        It was so wretched that I never wrote anything after that. Never wanted to be published. But after I got married, my wife who had read the original novel, suggested that I should try it once more. Look at the irony! I started off on a political satire.. and it took me years to even start writing it down.. and guess what? It turned out to be real life.. the bloody story of Anna Hazare and the revolution (s0-called).. and it was not funny anymore. Sad!! Hahaha..

        But there are three other novels I was working on. One, about a family of Sephardic jews who escape Manuel I and the Spanish-Portuguese empire to settle down on the Kerala coast.. and it took me two years to get the info I needed from the Lisbon library and the research is still not done (I managed to offend the jews too on their sephardic forum where I had gone for help.. idiot me, I addressed a German Jew as Danke, Mein Herr… or something that reminded him of black jackboots and got him majorly irritated.. duh!! being too clever by half kills me all the while).
        Second one, is what I am writing about.. at the moment, will let you read it once it is gone past a few chapters.. there is another one in the corridor, still dark and yet to come to light.

        And you know what? To my eternal agony, even the Jewish story is not that unique.. Amitav Ghosh has written something similar (In an antique land).. but I refused to read it so far.. and my story has more to do with tribals on the Kerala coast rather than jewish slaves in Mangalore 🙂

        But let us see.. I would love to read your 50 pages.. don’t worry about it so much..

      17. Whoa! Now I’ve decided I’m not going to send you that 😛 It’s way too kiddy and lame for someone like you to read. But I’ve started working on this new idea so I’ll get you up to speed about that in a while 😀

      18. no, no.. aw, come on.. send it to me.. it is never lame, trust me.. never.. send it right away.. I was waiting for it.. and refreshing my mail inbox several times a minute.. come on.. don’t be such a.. er.. teaser..

      19. Send what you have!! Sigh!!!.
        If you are shy with me, a no-name entity, how will you ever face an agent or an editor? Send it already..

        I would love to read it.. and I am not an ogre at all.. not going to chew you apart.. I am always amazed by what people write and in your case, I already am.. so it cannot be all that bad.. and you know what? you need it.. because I know how dissatisfied I used to be when I got all positive reviews for what I wrote which meant they had not read it at all or improperly.. or negative reviews just for the sake of being contrary.. never a fair, balanced review ever..

      20. You weave Portuguese and Keralite fantasies and you research for years. Mine are unresearched and incapacitated by lack of time and the drive and inspired by my love for Nicholas Spark’s books 7 hears ago. So with the fear of being judged looming over my head, I’ll send it to you 😛

      21. No, I wouldn’t… I am actually a softie.. pretending to be someone tough.. and hey, you were the one who thought I was a woman.. so there!!! Send it already.. now stop being shy.. for all you know, I could be a talent scout for Penguin/RandomHouse 🙂

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