So, I started and finished The Scion of Ikshvaku today, living a lazy Sunday existence. Amish continues to deliver un-put-downables, riding on the great Indian mythological sources. He almost takes off from where he left with the Meluha trilogy, except this time with the more popular Lord Ram set of stories. It could be a double-edged sword this time, with many people knowing their own brand of Ramayana, and hence possibly having high expectations set up from the modified / tweaked stories that Amish can deliver.
I personally was impressed with the tweaks by Amish to the brand of Ramayana we grew up with.
• When Dashrath fell in battle, to be helped by Kaikeyi, who got the two Boons later on, he was fighting none other than Raavan, the commander-in-chief of Kuber from Lanka.
• Ram was shunned and thought of as inauspicious from infancy till he turned 20
• Manthara being a Business-woman (she was just a maid of Kaikeyi in the real story)
• Combining Sita Swayamwar and Draupadi Swayamwar stories by making the suitor lift the Pinaka and shoot the fish in the eye too – this one threw me off a bit – what will Amish do when he reaches the Mahabharata trilogy ?
Of course, bringing the Nirbhaya episode into the story was something between being cheeky and too overtly trying to make some topical connect. That the main perpetrator of the crime was a juvenile was a bit too much to digest. Of course, hopefully there’s no learning from the gruesome death he is put to eventually.
Amish’s love with the layouts of ancient cities continues with his indulgent description of Mithila, in the similar vein of the Meluhan layouts, which itself was a lift-off from the description of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa civilisations in our history text books.
The discussions between Vashishta and the royal princes on a masculine vs feminine societies, following each other in a cyclical fashion was good philosophy. Somehow, they reminded us of current discussions between a Democratic vs Autocratic / Oligarchic systems. And how a benevolent dictator could be what the doctor ordered for countries like India….for some time.
If you do not think too much, do not remember too much and if you want to enjoy a cool, breezy read, then go ahead and spend 5-6 hours with the Scion (pronounced as Sion, as in Sion station…or Saa-yawn, for non-Mumbaikars). Ikshvaku was the great ancestor of Ram – Ram, Dashrath, Aja, Raghu, Dilip…Ikshvaku!!