Book Review : Armies of Hanuman - Ashok K. Banker  

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The tale continues...

When we left our heroes at the end of Demons of Chitrakut, they had just started a long, bloody war with one battalion of Asuras who survived the decimation of the Brahm-astra. The 14,000 strong force had come to take revenge for the mutilation of Supanakha and to claim the head of their mortal enemy, Rama. However, unexpectedly, Rama, Sita and Lakshman were suddenly joined by outlaws and other inhabitants of Chitrakut who pledged their swords to the cause of Rama. Outnumbered 50 to 1, Rama tells his people that they will wage a guerrilla war against the Rakshasas which might be bloody and long but will ultimately lead to victory for the forces of good.

Banker's fourth installment of The Ramayana consists primarily of three acts. The first scene opens 13 years after the last frame of the previous book. Rama's forces have valiantly fought the Rakshasa army using the cover of the land to bring their numbers down to a still formidable 2000. The Asuras are now lead by a extremely smart general called Trisirias (the three-headed one). He has studied Rama's movements over the past decade and has finally figured out how to crush them. Rama and his rag-tag band make one final stand at the Battle of Janasthana. They are also watched closely by a vanar (monkey) warrior, Hanuman, who's reporting on the legendary warrior to his tribe chief, Sugreeva.

The second act is post the Battle. After a stunning victory for the forces of good over evil, Rama, Sita and Lakshman enjoy the last few months of their exile and are eagerly awaiting the return to Ayodhya and the life they were denied over a decade ago. This act also talks of the resurrection of Ravana and the resurgence of Lanka as a force to be reckoned with. But to deal with the Princes of Ayodhya, Ravana decides to take the less direct route of confrontation and decides to kidnap Sita instead. This is probably the part of the Ramayana that almost everyone knows about. The deception and the act that leads to the main battle of the Ramayana.

The third act is the brothers enlisting the help of the vanars, a half-simian race who live in the jungles close to Chitrakut. Already, their names and deeds are a part of legend, so when Rama and Lakshman come to seek the help of the vanar king, Sugreeva, they make one deal. They will help him regain his lost throne from his brother, Vali. In return, Sugreeva must help Rama and Lakshman attack Lanka and free Sita. They are viewed with a slight distrust but eventually win the vanar's trust with the aid of Hanuman.

After a pitched fight between Rama and Vali, Sugreeva tells Rama that he and the rest of Vanar-kind will help Rama fight Ravana and get the love of his life back. He then sends Hanuman and a few other vanar generals to recruit as many vanars as possible to Rama's aid. They set out to recruit the armies of Hanuman. 

God, I can just feel this book building the pace for what will be the mother of all battles. On to book 5, The Bridge of Rama.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at Saturday, February 13, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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