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Raavan- Enemy of Aryavarta #BookReview

When Amish Tripathi came up with the first book in the Meluha series – The Immortals of Meluha, I went gaga over it like most of us. It was a refreshing take on Indian history and mythology and Lord Shiva being portrayed as a mortal was appealing rather than alarming. Though the rest of the books in the series didn’t live up to the hype, it was still iconic. Then came Ram Chandra series, a take on Ramayana. While I have read better versions of this epic, I remember liking Ram and Sita – the first two books of this series. Now, what happens when you wait for two years for the third book in a series to release? Well, read on to find what I’m talking about.

Blurb of Raavan – Enemy of Aryavartha

..as in Goodreads
WITHOUT THE DARKNESS, LIGHT HAS NO PURPOSE.
WITHOUT THE VILLAIN, WHAT WOULD THE GODS DO?
INDIA, 3400 BCE.
A land in tumult, poverty and chaos. Most people suffer quietly. A few rebel. Some fight for a better world. Some for themselves. Some don’t give a damn. Raavan. Fathered by one of the most illustrious sages of the time. Blessed by the Gods with talents beyond all. Cursed by fate to be tested to the extremes.
A formidable teenage pirate, he is filled with equal parts courage, cruelty and fearsome resolve. A resolve to be a giant among men, to conquer, plunder, and seize the greatness that he thinks is his right.
A man of contrasts, of brutal violence and scholarly knowledge. A man who will love without reward and kill without remorse.
This exhilarating third book of the Ram Chandra series sheds light on Ravaan, the king of Lanka. And the light shines on darkness of the darkest kind. Is he the greatest villain in history or just a man in a dark place, all the time? Read the epic tale of one of the most complex, violent, passionate and accomplished men of all time.

Review of Raavan – Enemy of Aryavartha

When I began reading Raavan, I was lost. I couldn’t connect the dots and didn’t know what exactly was happening because it had been two years since I last read Sita. While I understand that the author was going through a hard time in life (as explained at the beginning of the book), this is what happens when a book in the series is delayed for so long. Throughout Raavan, I was trying to remember the many references in previous books which I may have missed. To top it all, having read another popular recently released book with Sita as the protagonist got me even more confused. I am talking about Chitra Divakaruni’s The Forest of Enchantments.

I’m of the opinion that fiction writers can meddle with history according to their imagination. After all, they are doing just that – writing a fiction book. Yes, there is a but after all!

Here’s what I didn’t like:

a. Raavan being portrayed as an angry lover boy didn’t work for me. It was a bit too much. It was a refreshing twist to Raavan’s story, I would agree on that, and the author has tried hard to add different layers to the much-hated villain’s personality.

b. What I absolutely detested was the Sabarimala reference which felt deliberate as if the author HAD to have some mention of it in his book.

c. Narration: It fell flat in many places and it was pretty difficult to not get bored! Yup, there. I said it. One could easily skip pages and you can find yourself in the exact same scenario.

d. Last but definitely not least is Sita’s Swayamvar. While I was reading this part, I was shocked at how Sita’s swayamvar was written. Did the author confuse between Sita’s and Draupadi’s swayamvar? While the former required lifting Shiva’s bow (and Ram had succeeded by not only lifting but also breaking it while trying to string), it was in Draupadi’s swayamvar that one had to shoot an arrow at the eye of a rotating fish looking at the reflection from the water placed below. I was alarmed at this mix-up and I had to go back and check the book – Sita, Warrior of Mithila. This mix up is present in Sita as well. As I said, it was a long time ago that I had read Sita and I don’t remember reading any justification as to this. So, I’m not sure if I’m at the wrong here. Correct me, if I am.

The best part of the book, however, was the characterization of Kumbhakaran. I’ve always overlooked this brother of Raavan’s in all versions of the epic. But in this book, Kumbhakaran isn’t overshadowed by Raavan’s strong personality. He has a storyline of his own and his story is justifiable.

Do I Recommend?

To conclude, Raavan is a good book for Amish really tried to dive into this character. But it could’ve been much much much better. I would urge you to wait before picking this up because the series isn’t complete yet. There will also be a fourth book. To make any sense of this multi-linear narrative, read all the books in one go!

Rating:

Three Paws on Five!

If you have recently read the Ram Chandra series, I’d say, go for it. This is an affiliate link.

If not, you can find the entire series here.

You may Pin it for later too! View all my reviews here

Read for the prompt: Book set in India (Erin’s Reading Challenge)

12 Comments

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