Monday, August 12, 2013

THE WORDKEEPERS by JASH SEN

Author: Jash Sen
Publication: Duckbill
ISBN: 978-93-82618-16-4
Price: INR 225

The book begins with an account of some war. This is followed by a letter from Vibhishan, the immortal king of Lanka and the brother of Ravana, of the time of Lord Rama.

A normal life of a regular busy teenager of the year 2028 is thrown topsy turvy when she receives strange messages from her mother and notices that her father's body casts no shadow in the mirror. A very strange sequence of events make her realize that she is no ordinary human, but the child of a 'wordkeeper' and is expected to live up to and act as per a prophecy. And she must rescue her mother.

Through the journey, she meets many people, who have, in their existing forms or their earlier incarnations, been characters from the great Mahabharata or the Ramayana. She discovers that she herself had been one.

Meanwhile, in the other world, in the world of the the nemesis of these wordkeepers, a handsome plan is being hatched to ensure that relevant information is collected and a trap is being laid upon the wordkeepers. This world is headed by God 'Kali'(not Goddess Kaali), the forth yug of the Hindu mithology. He has in his control, all the vices, the personifications of foul acts and all the existing demons and aims to become the sole God of the humanity.

A string of trustworthy friendships, bitter betrayals, family union, happy and sad phases, lead the teen-aged girl to discover something more about herself and take her a little further on the journey prescribed for her. And eventually, what has to happen, happens!!

An enormous eye keeps a track of all of her activities, until just before the end. 

It is interesting how the story, a very very common story of a child suddenly discovering his/her special powers (much like the characters of Harry Potter, Lexi , Henrietta and so many more in the contemporary fiction arena) is mixed with the complex story of the Hindu mythology, with a twist that incorporates all the other religions. (Kaalki, the last avatar of Lord Vishnu, is depicted through a Muslim boy here). Though the concept is brilliant and the author has done her homework really well, the final outcome falls short of the expectation that such a storyline would ideally demand. The theory of the child discovering gifted abilities has become too commonplace and childish to carry the heavy wight of the mythological tales. Though a racy narration, it becomes hard to convince oneself to read on and it gets too complex and ambiguous at places. 

A point I liked about the book is how the people, especially those of the other world, the Vishasha have been named. Dambha, Mrityu, Bhay, Vyadhi, Jara, Trishna, Shoke, Krodhe and so many more are basically the personified versions of the vices and problems we all face. For someone with a decent base of mythological knowledge, all this seems good, for others, it would have been better had a detailed glossary been give at the end.

A first of the trilogy, I think it is a fairly decent job. I hope the other two books are nice and make up for the loopholes in this one.

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