The first in the Ramayan series by Ashok Banker covers the start of Rama's campaign against the Asuras led by Ravan. The beginning of Ramayana as we know- the city getting ready for coronation of Rama, Dasrath's illness, the apprenticeship of Rama & Lakshman by Vishwamitra for destroying demons in Bhayanak Van. The novel is fast paced yet sometimes the flow is hindered by too much of description that one is tempted to diagonally speed read.
The characters are realistic and for the first time I see Rama as a warrior rather than a God. A manifestation of the human form in totality, yet maintaining the almost to the point of being annoying decency of Ram.
The book is contemporised for modern audience and even more fantasy filled than the famed TV series.
Needless to say, I loved this take on Ramayana. At times I would pause and think- well this looks quite bizzare and unbelievable - did this really happen in the original.
But then, how would I know that and isn't Ramayan or any other story all about being retold a number of times, seeing from one's own lenses and highlighting the aspects that one loves and even embellishing them using one's creative imagination?
The author has used multiple media to depict the story- realtime, dreams, wordless communication- and one wonders whether the dream sequence is reality or is just a pause in teh story. But well, even if it is a dream, why shouldn't it be real too? For dreams do foretell or reflect reality don't they?
I also found a haunting similarity with another much loved series- Harry Potter.
Ravan could easily be paralleled to the invincible Dark Lord and Ram to Harry Potter- the boy hero. Dumbledore and Vishwamitra - aren't they strikingly similar? Both ancient mentors- capable in their own way to destroy the demon but held back by vows of austerity or voice of destiny?
Sorcery, magic, fantasy, dream prophesies- sometimes I would get confused - which series I am reading?