Hindu mythology is full of deities. Some larger than life, some as close to life as any, some full of mischief and some so grand that they seem unattainable. Some are well adored and some so miss-forgotten that they not even exist in daily worship. No matter what standing a deity has, I am pretty sure if someone was to write a novel/book; there won't be a dearth of choice. So, I was a bit intrigued when I saw the title "Thunder god`"...coz in my mind, Lord Indra (or Devraj Indra), though interesting was not really a hero material. At least not the type of hero that the summary at the back page was referring to.
Rajiv G Menon, is a name that was not known or heard before I picked up the novel, which was not surprising coz this is his first book, but “now” I am looking forward to the next installment. Which is not going to be an easy feat, as the copy that was sent to me was pre-release bound proof only. L
Coming to the actual review… my congratulations to author who manages to create a tale that is interesting, fast paced and with enough elements of action, thriller, suspense and romance that it keeps the reader hooked. The characters are sound and come across clearly which is an astounding feat to achieve for a first novel. The story weaves enough spaces for future references and jumps back in time which creates a huge canvass for the author to play. There are elements that you know will come back in the play when time comes and they surely do. The central character, Indra, has every trait that a man would have or a leader should have. He’s strong willed, and loyal while he has his own flaws, he has enough sense to know and acknowledge them. He goes through highs and lows that any hero would. Making mistakes and learning through them, loving and losing what he loves, trusting wrong people and gaining arrogance at the hands of untimely and unstoppable victories etc etc. Thunder god is a novel filled with wonderful magic and beautiful action sequences. The characters that more believable and even recognizable and a plot that truly interesting. But as with any good thing, there comes a hoard of not so good things; Thunder god is also not above them. There are some really grating things about Thunder god.
For starters, why Indra had to be born of Gaia and Daeyus? The names, places and events that Rajiv uses, leaves you with an impression that he is talking about a world of Greek or Roman Mythology. Even the way of life of Deva Tribe is described you would be reminded of the starting of the movie 300 and Spartan way of life. Rajiv G Menon borrows heavily from the Greek and Roman and European Myths and Legends. Which is not an issue in itself coz the story that he tells is free of those myths and legends. He also relies on a middle-earth type surroundings and borrows from the history and Aryan migration myths etc. Though the names and places sound known the way they are used in the story line is extremely clever. He’s so liberal in his borrowing from myths and legends, he doesn't even leave Dragons behind… J
Of course there are times when you are not comfortable with him borrowing from those myths and twisting the names and descriptions of deities that we worship in a not so flattering manner. At times you feel outraged at his liberal imagination and you might end up asking yourself…”Dragons? Really?”. You will have a lot of names and events to keep a track of, and if you are anything like me…you will say to yourself “oh, I had forgotten about this character absolutely” at least a couple of times. They story that Rajeev is telling is not a simple tale, so it is GOING to be full of people and full of events and one might need to be advised at the very start of the novel to sit with a paper and pen so as to keep a check on characters and events… it might just help. At the end of those 400 odd pages you do come out feeling as exhausted as you might feel after finishing Lord of the Rings or something. And of course, there is this small little issue of Devraj Indra not really fitting into the image of “Fearless Brave Hero and Leader of a Tribe”; which makes it a really hard to get into the element of reading.
But with all its flaws, Thunder god makes an excellent reading experience. If you can get over feeling a little out of elements of the sort, you WILL enjoy the read. So, as an advice I would say, keep your preconceptions about Devraj aside, if possible… keep aside everything you might know or heard or read about Hindu Mythologies all together… and you WILL have a fantastic reading experience, with Thunder god. My congratulations to Rajiv G Menon and eagerly waiting for the next installment. J
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