Scion of Ikshvaku, the latest from Amish, is the first book in the 5 part Ram Chandra series. The author takes the Epic, Ramayana and fictionalizes it to tell us the story of the revered Hindu God Ram Chandra. Set in 3400 BCE it traces the journey of Ram from his birth to the 13th year of his exile when his wife Sita is abducted by the demon God Ravana.
It is an interesting take on the great Epic. It begins with the battle of the Karachappa, where the Ayodhyan king Dashrath loses to Ravana leading to the decline of the empire of Ayodhya. The loss breaks down Dashrath, he loses interest in his empire and neglects an already debt ridden empire which is fleeced further by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, where roads are paved with gold. Born at the very day of his father’s defeat at the hands of Ravana, Ram is considered inauspicious and is deprived of the love of his own father and faces the wrath of the public as well, who blame him for the sorry state of the kingdom.
Thus starts the journey of the great Ram Chandra. The author takes us through his childhood, spent at the Gurukul along with his four brothers. His ascension as the Crown prince of Ayodhya. His marriage to Sita and the 14 year exile. The book ends at the 13th year of his exile as Sita is abducted by Ravana. In doing so the author also brings up questions on good governance [The feminine way vs the masculine way could easily be the democracy vs socialism debate], the importance of law and order, if judiciary should be influenced by public opinion and the interplay of business and politics. Thought provoking Indeed.
Being similar to the Shiva Trilogy in its treatment and theme, one cannot but compare both. As with the Shiva Trilogy, Amish once again weaves an interesting story based on a much loved and revered God. However it must have been a more difficult task at hand given that the Ramayana and its characters are widely known and etched clearly in our memory, at least the generation which had been exposed to it through the televised series decades earlier. So kudos to the author in being able to do such a great job with it. Another similarity is the presence of strong female characters. Sita here is reminiscent of Sati and I am definitely not complaining. Hopefully Sita would finally get justice by the end of the series. And of course when we are talking of Amish how can we forget his vivid description of the Battles. His battle scenes are so well written and detailed it almost seems like you are seeing all the action unfold in front of your eyes.
The only flipside however of writing a story based on a similar era as the last one is that it gets a little repetitive. One of the reasons for the success of the Immortals of Meluha was probably the novelty that it provided. It was interesting to read about the Somras or the Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis or the Daivi Astras for that matter, so people who have read the trilogy might feel a little disappointed as the author repeats the same themes. But then since this is more like a prequel to the Trilogy [remember he talks about Ram Rajya there?], it was unavoidable I assume.
Do I recommend the book? Of course, Not only is it a refreshing take on an age old Epic, it is very well written, is fast paced, the language is beautiful and yet again he gives us a Hero to die for [Just check out the cover, need I say more?]
Do I recommend the book? Of course, it’s an interesting take on a well known tale and reinforces what Amish told us earlier that there is a God is everyone of us.