“Sometimes, truth causes pain and suffering. At such times, silence is preferred”
Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku is the first book in the Ram Chandra series by Amish, the author of the renowned Shiva Trilogy. The series describes the story of Ramayana, from the point of view of its important characters – Ram, Sita, Raavan and Hanuman. The book effectively makes use of a multi-linear method of storytelling, wherein several subplots beautifully converge into the main plot toward the end.
The novel starts with the description of one of the most well-known scenes from the Ramayana – Ravana’s abduction of Sita. Amish gives a modern spin to the story we are all familiar with. He describes what Ram and Lakshmana were doing at that time. The story then swiftly switches to the past, where Dasharath is involved in an intense battle with Raavan.
The book relates the story of Rama from his birth to his days of exile in the forest. The author gives detailed descriptions of the Sapt Sindhu Empire and its capital Ayodhya along with the splendid cities of Mithila and Lanka. These descriptions are so vivid that they come alive in the minds of the most unimaginative readers. He also describes the enmity between Raavan and Dasharath, and the reason for Raavan’s hatred toward the rulers of Sapt Sindhu.
Most of the characters and their relationships are adopted from the Ramayana. Amish, however, also introduces some new characters into the script to make the plot even more intriguing.
Due to its riveting structure, Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku amazes and awes the readers with its new approach to the most revered tale Ramayana. The characters of Ram, Manthara, Dasharath, and Sita are all portrayed against our preconceived notions. Ram is depicted as an unloved child, as Dasharath believes him to be unlucky for his kingdom; Manthara is a wealthy businesswoman with a glaring antipathy toward Ram, for she feels that he has erred in his judgment; Sita is the princess and prime minister of Mithila; and Dasharath is an old king ruling over the Sapt Sindhu Kingdom, which is facing bankruptcy and is battered after years of futile wars with Raavan.
Though the premise of the story is old, the twists and turns in its plot give it a new lease of life. Readers are hooked to Amish’s fast-paced style of storytelling. He continues with his two-ways-of-life philosophy from the Shiva Trilogy. Though both the series are different, there are succinct allusions to some of the places, characters and thoughts from his last outing. The book has fleeting mentions of the Nagas, the Vayuputras and Panchvati, all from the Shiva Trilogy.
The book is only meant for those readers who are willing to appreciate new perspectives and believe that there can be many versions of the great epic of Ramayana. It is noteworthy that there is absolutely no mention whatsoever of the Ramayana in this novel; the author has aptly titled his works as the Rama Chandra Series.
Amish has also tried to incorporate contemporary issues into the story, such as the Nirbhaya case and the appalling ways in which caste-based discrimination works. Also, the scene of Sita’s swayamvar has been completely modified and rather resembles a scene from the Mahabharata.
Ram: The Scion of Ikshvaku merits a 3-star rating. The story is fast-paced and fresh. There are ample twists in the story to keep the readers engrossed to the very last page. The novel comes with an awe-inspiring cover. The character introduction set forth at the beginning and the maps given at the end help the readers to understand the plot better. That being said, the novel contains many instances, which to some extent may come across as unnecessary if not prosaic.
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