Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Read Review: Rise of Kali: Duryodhana's Mahabharata (Ajaya-Epic of the Kaurava Clan, Book II)

Rise of Kali: Duryodhana's Mahabharata (Ajaya-Epic of the Kaurava Clan, Book II) by
Paperback, 530 pages
Published July 29th 2015 by Platinum Press (first published June 21st 2015)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
“THE MAHABHARATA ENDURES AS THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA. While Jaya is the story
of the Pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of Kurukshetra, Ajaya is the tale of the
Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man. From the pen of the author who gave voice to
Ravana in the national bestseller, ASURA, comes the riveting narrative which compels us to question
the truth behind the Mahabharata.

THE DARK AGE OF KALI IS RISING and every man and woman must choose between duty
and conscience, honour and shame, life and death…

o The Pandavas, banished to the forest following the disastrous games of dice, return
to Hastinapura.
o Draupadi has vowed not to bind her hair till she washes it in the blood of the Kauravas.
o Karna must choose between loyalty and gratitude, friend and Guru.
o Aswathama undertakes a perilous mission to the mountains of Gandhara, in search of the
Evil One.
o Kunti must decide between her firstborn and her other sons.
o Guru Drona has to stand with either his favourite disciple or his beloved son.
o Balarama, having failed to convince his brother about the adharma of violence, walks the
streets of Bharatavarsha, spreading the message of peace.
o Ekalavya is called to make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold a woman’s honour.
o Jara, the beggar, sings of Krishna’s love while his blind dog, Dharma, follows.
o Shakuni can almost see the realization of his dream to destroy India.

As the Pandavas stake their claim to the Hastinapura throne, the Kaurava Crown Prince, Suyodhana,
rises to challenge Krishna. As great minds debate dharma and adharma, power hungry men prepare
for an apocalyptic war. The women, highborn and humble, helplessly watch the unfolding disaster
with deep foreboding. And greedy merchants and unscrupulous priests lie in wait like vultures.
Both sides know that beyond the agony and carnage the winner will take all. But even as gods
conspire and men’s destinies unfold, a far greater truth awaits.
  
MY THOUGHTS:
I have been waiting for this book since the day I finished reading Book-I. Once again my heart went to Karna. Suyodhana, the misunderstood and misinterpreted hero, made me sad. As I had siad in my review of Book-I (Read my review of Ajaya-Epic of the Kaurava Clan; Book 1-Roll of the Dice), I have never been a fan of the Pandavas and I love to hear the other side of the story. Shakuni and Krishna are the ultimate manipulators, who are kind of still manipulating mankind.

It is really interesting to see how the author narrates the mythological aspects like boons and magical weapons in a believable and possible way. Like the part where Arjuna is supposed to meet Shiva and ask for his bow, Duryodhana being beaten by Bhima when striked on his thighs and so on. It is an advantage if you know the conventional Mahabharata or at least some stories of it. That way the story becomes more amusing as well as interesting.

Ajaya would leave the readers wondering what is dharma and what is adharma. What dharma means to one might actually be adharma to another. Both the Kauravas and Pandavas believed that dharma was on their sides. I seriously fail to understand that the Pandavas who defeated the great warriors on the side of Kauravas by sheer cunning and cheat, can be called righteous. The following quotes are mentioned at the beginning of the book:



I loved afterword on dharma at the end of the book. The author says "The greatness of Vedavyasa's work is in the questions it evokes every time we read it, rather than in the answers given by preachers who reduce it to a simplistic tales of good versus evil". The fight between dharma and adharma is eternal and the dilemma concerning both rings true in any age.



Friday, September 11, 2015

Read Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Orginal Spanish Title: Cien años de soledad) by 
Paperback, 422 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Penguin Books (first published 1967)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:

'MANY YEARS LATER, AS HE FACED THE FIRING SQUAD, COLONEL AURELIANO BUENDÍA WAS TO REMEMBER THAT DISTANT AFTERNOON WHEN HIS FATHER TOOK HIM TO DISCOVER ICE'

Pipes and kettledrums herald the arrival of gypsies on their annual visit to Macondo, the newly founded village where José Arcadio Buendía and his strong-willed wife, Úrsula, have started their new life. As the mysterious Melquíades excites Aureliano Buendía and his father with new inventions and tales of adventure, neither can know the significance of the indecipherable manuscript that the old gypsy passes into their hands.

Through plagues of insomia, civil war, hauntings and vendettas, the many tribulations of the Buendía household push memories of the manuscript aside. Few remember its existence and only one will discover the hidden message that it holds...
  
MY THOUGHTS:
My bestie gifted me this amazing book on my birthday this year. And I absolutely loved this classic.

The writing style is magical realism, a style of fantasy wherein the fantastic and the unbelievable are treated as everyday occurrences. The story goes through seven generations of the Buendia family. The plot is the imaginary and peaceful village of Macondo. The children are named after their ancestors, so there are multiple characters with the same name. I had to check the family tree, depicted in the beginning of the novel, several times while reading to identify the character. The family is absolutely mad, each character with their unique peculiarities and personalities. The village is crazy too. People go on living for hundreds of years, it keeps on raining for three years and gypsies come with flying carpets and what not. Family secrets, lineage, scandals and madness; this story has it all. Also it incorporates the historical aspects of Latin America and educates the reader on the same.

This is not a book to be ravished but relished. I didn't devour this book, but relished it slowly, taking few pages at a time everyday. After a long time, I have read such a different book. It was originally written in Spanish and I am sure that the original work is much more magical than the translation. A salute and many thanks to the translator, Gregory Rabassa, who took on the tough job and kept the magic of the original work intact. 

I have read many negative reviews. One has to remember that this is not a regular novel but a work of art. It's a masterpiece and should be read for the joy of literature.