Title- Shatru Kronikles Book- 1
Publisher– Frog Books (Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd) www.leadstartcorp.com
Genre– Fantasy fiction
Price– Rs 225
Facebook Page– http://www.facebook.com/BSCVadhan/
Flipkart link– To purchase
About the book
With the markets flooding with historical fiction these days, one is almost cautious not to pick up another ‘retelling’ of an epic. With Shatru, you can lay those fears to rest. The book is pure fantasy fiction with roots in Indian mythology. The thing with this genre is that the author has to strike a balance between imagination and structure. Author Vadhan has traversed that path almost perfectly. The plot follows a tangent that very few in Indian fantasy world have been able to achieve. Vadhan has created a world of his own and it has definite rules. The protagonist Shatru is half Asura. He also is a ‘Hunter’. The novel creates a world of its own and it has its own laws. This is not Ashwin Sanghi or Amish. This is Tolkien meeting Agatha Christie.
When I started reading the book, it started with a gruesome crime and I thought- detective fiction. As I read on, I got introduced to the character of Shatru (Ajaatshatru), and I thought ‘hey! Hellboy!’ The world woven around the characters is complex and consists of conspiracies and background stories. It makes the whole experience more enriching. The language is intelligent and witty. The author has not forgotten the importance of humour and that’s why the plot seems even more real and believable.
One of the most delightful things about the book is its language. It is colourful and layered. There is an other-worldy feel created with just minor tweaks in the narrative. The author has, on multiple occasions, referred to the mobile phone or cellphone as ‘the instrument’. It subtly drives home the point that the characters do not belong to ‘our’ world. There are more such examples of intelligent writing in there. Modern day Indian English authors have fallen in the trap of oversimplification. You assume that you have to keep a linear plot to keep the audience engaged, you assume that your hero should have certain traits- all those assumptions lead you to cardboard characters and flat plots. Fantasy in the west is much more nuanced. It is as if we have taken no cues from our forefathers who were the creators of Mahabharat and Upnishads. Heck, even the Panchtantra which is supposed to be a children’s book has more layers than most of modern Indian English fiction. This book evades that trap of oversimplification and considers the readers to be intelligent, sentient beings. By all accounts, this is a ‘true’ fantasy book from an Indian author that I have read in a long time and that is saying a lot.
About the cover
The front cover is an eerie green eye with immaculate detailing with green smoke coming out of it. It marks the beginning of the series with the symbolic opening of an eye. Once you read the book, it will be clear to you that it is an Asura’s green eye. The black background completes the picture. The back cover has the book blurb which thankfully reveals little about the plot and has the backdrop of a city with impending doom. The pages are crisp and there are almost zero printing mistakes. Full credits to Leadstart who seem to be learning from their mistakes and getting better with each book.
About the author
Bommadevara Sai Chandravadhan is a valuable member at my Talking Books in Delhi NCR meetup group. As you can see in the picture above, he has an imposing, towering persona. When one gets to talk and interact with him, you realize how friendly and humourous he is. You can fit him into one of those friendly giants in those Disney movies. He is a lawyer by profession and owns a legal firm in Gurgaon. Writing has been his first love and at age 12, when he first attempting writing a book (wow), his genre of choice was incidentally fantasy. He has an active imagination and it shows clearly in the book and also in the way he writes.
About the plot
Well, there is a hero, a sidekick, a mysterious murder. There are also secret organizations. Moreover, there is conspiracy and impending doom. Also, you have Indian mythology and elements of science fiction. This is not just a Fantasy novel. It is many things. It is also a fitting story for a comic book. The thing that most people miss while creating a superhero character is that they do not define its powers and their source. Vadhan has not only created a well-defined superhero-like character in Shatru, he has gone a step ahead and created an alternate universe with its own laws and norms.
I recommend that you read it with a free mind so that you can picture the hard work that has gone into creating this book and its characters. Also, it isn’t a four-hour read. It is a story you can take home and make your own. Recommended to everyone with a child’s heart.
****/5 (four stars out of five)