Book Review : Demons of Chitrakut - Ashok K. Banker  

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Okay, so I JUST finished the third book, literally 30 seconds ago. I just put it down and I have to tell you how it is. Okay, I think I already used the words brilliant and awesome, so, in an attempt NOT to repeat myself, I'm going to try and find some synonyms. It was : astonishing, awe-inspiring, beautiful, breathtaking, daunting, exalted, grand, imposing, impressive, magnificent, majestic, mind-blowing, moving, real gone, something else, striking, stunning, stupefying, wonderful, wondrous, zero cool.

 I have no idea what "zero cool" and "real gone" are, but what the hell, I'll throw them in there for good measure. :)




After decimating the Asura forces in the Siege of Mithila, the triumphant heroes are wed to their respective brides and the royal retinue is on its way back to Ayodhya. Rama is to be crowned the new king of the Suryavansha line and he is to take his rightful place at the helm of the greatest of Arya nations, Ayodhya.

On the way to Ayodhya, they are stopped and challenged by Parushrama, the slayer of Kshatriyas. I won't go into too much detail here but the backstory is that his father (a brahmin) is wrongfully killed by a few arrogant kshatriyas and Parushrama embarks on an epic cleansing of all the kshatriyas on the mortal realm. Once he completes the task, he goes into meditation, coming out again and again to complete his task. He is awakened from his current tapasya by the breaking of Shiva's bow. He comes out to challenge Rama and Rama bests him, proving to him that his time is at an end. This is because the current race of kshatriyas are dharma-abiding, god-fearing people who accept their place in the world with honour and humility. Parushrama genuflects before Rama and then gives up his crusade to spend the rest of his years meditating.

But all is not well in the Unconquerable city. How could it be? Any stripling worth his salt knows this is just the beginning of Rama's travails. Manthara, Kaikeyi's governess and the secret apprentice of the Lord of Lanka plots to overthrow Rama and sow dissent in House Ayodhya. She plans, schemes and sets her plans in motion which eventually leads to two things. One, Rama's 14 year exile in the demon-filled Dandaka-van and two, for Bharat to be crowned King with Kaikeyi as the First Queen (Dasaratha's).

But the plan backfires, as Bharat wants no part in the kingship that rightfully belongs to his elder brother and refuses the Sun Throne. Rama, the perfect human being that he is, accepts his exile without a word and heads out, but Sita and Lakshman join him vowing never to leave his side, no matter where he may be headed. As Rama heads out, the word spreads like wildfire that Rama has abdicated the throne and has been exiled and the country stands at the cusp of revolt and civil war. Bharat refuses his place on the throne and exiles himself, followed by Shatrughan and vows never to step foot in Ayodhya for as long as Rama is not king. The burden then falls on Kausalya to rule as Regent in Rama's absence, which she takes up as her duty.

Rama, Lakshman and Sita encounter many people, incidents and places on their way to their destination of Chitrakut. These are again written in very human terms. Lakshman is not as all-forgiving as Rama is and resents the fact that they've been outcast for putting their lives on the line, slaying Tataka, taking on Ravana and saving Mithila. Sita is fearful that Rama is destined to a life with violence (not of his choosing) which she is afraid of.

They reach Chitrakut and build themselves a hut in which to live out their exile in peace but they know that danger is literally just around the corner. The entire Asura army wasn't wiped out at the siege. One battalion still survived as they couldn't make the siege on time and took refuge in the Dandakan forest that borders Chitrakut.

It is here that Supanakha finally attempts to seduce Rama. She tries sorcery to pass herself off as Sita and fails as Rama sees right through the disguise. She leaves maimed and injured and comes back with the army of 14,000 asuras.

This time, the brothers don't have the power of brahman anymore (read the previous book) and are but mere mortals fending off an army. Rama, Lakshman and Sita (yes, Sita is an accomplished warrior in her own right) fight off the forces until they are joined by the unlikliest of allies. The story draws to a close with Rama telling his band of outlaws that the struggle will be long and hard but that at the end of the day, victory will be theirs, no matter what. They agree to start attacking the 14,000 strong force with guirella tactics in order to decimate their numbers.

Paralelly, we follow the story of the defeated Lankan lord who, after being vanquished, is brought home by his brother but loses complete control over the island nation of Lanka.

Yet another masterpiece. I'm not going to say anymore cause too much gushing will just ruin it. Read the books in order, or else they won't make sense. And tonight, I go home and pick up the next one, Armies of Hanuman.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at Wednesday, January 06, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

1 comments

When you going to read the books that I got you??? :<

January 8, 2010 at 12:00 PM

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