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Book Title: Asura – Tale Of The Vanquished

Author: Anand Neelakantan

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

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A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Anand Neelakantan is an Indian writer born on 5th December, 1973. He has written three fictional books on the great Indian epics “Ramayana” and “Mahabharatha.” He is from Kerala and much of his writing is influenced by the culture of the state. In this book, he has intellectualized Ravana within the parameters of being the villain of the plot; but makes him a thoughtful villain. This book was his debut novel published in May 2014 and it became an instant bestseller within a week.

Story in a Nutshell:

This is Ravana’s version of the Ramayana. Seen from his point of view in which he just doesn’t try to justify anything and is honest in his villainy. The novel is a back story of Ravana and how he became the very fearsome opponent of the warrior Rama. The aftermath of war and the victor’s cold blooded actions over the vanquished party becomes quite a fertile ground which was explored by the author.

My Likes and Dislikes

The narration is very compelling and plays around with the internal monologue of a thinking Ravana and other thinking sub-ordinate characters. This version of Ravana is quiet interesting when he places those existential questions that are relevant even today; he seems progressive. Ravana’s point is why deny the pleasures of the world so that which is been abstained on the material world become a possession earned in the celestial world. Logically for him that point is totally pointless.

The one thing that I liked about the book was the author’s intention not to paint Ravana as a completely evil person, but as someone with human factors. This Ravana is someone who we can relate to and find similarity in. The post war descriptions were gruesome and created disturbing images in my mind.

The one thing that I disliked about the novel was the fact that it dragged on like a four years television series. I am not sure if I was looking for a closure for this story. Ravana’s vanquished state doesn’t mean a happy ending; but it left behind an afterthought of what was the point of war and strife. Anand Neelakantan’s Ravana is much more intellectual person than the general understanding that he was someone who was an illicit abductor of Sita.

My Opinion

I enjoyed reading the book deep into the night and trying to understand logic that Ravana used for justifying his journey of choices. The point is that the choices by Ravana were made based on the fact that he felt them right. I liked the fact that, all the characters had an internal dialogue going within them that keeps justifying their actions. I would say it is a good one time read if long books are your preferences.