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Book Review: The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal

The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal
 

The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Neer, the head priest of the Himalayas, is troubled by the horrifying visions in his dream. On Ganga Maiyya’s behest, he embarks on a journey to the doomed island of Bali. The island, plagued with cyclic torments of Sekala and Neskala and suffering from constant rainfall, faces an imminent danger of drowning in sea. However, Neer’s power was no match for the strong evil forces that kidnapped the king and the queen, activating the volcano of Mt Agung. With the neighboring king of Java on his toes to attack and conquer the struggling island of Bali, will the gritty prince Erlangga, assisted by Neer, be able to save his kingdom? Read to find out how people turn towards the new dewtas introduced by Neer as the end becomes evident and how Eka-dasa-Rudra helps in arousing the most furious energy of this world, Rudra.
 

The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal
Title: The New Dewtas
Author: Suraj Kothiyal
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing (Oct 17th 2018)
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, India
Read: paperback

Stars: ★★★☆☆
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 
 
 

My Review:

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for an honest review. All opinions are honestly mine. 😉

Rating: 3.5/5

Cover: Simple & Shiny, Dark & Bright

Paper and font: Ebony & Ivory

Readability, language: Easy on Eyes & Mind

Why did I pick this book:
1. The author himself called me with a request to review and agreed to an honest review!
2. The book’s premise got my attention. I enjoy Indian Mythological stories and this one for a change involved Indian Gods but was not set in India.

Balians believe in Neskalam-Sekalam, Evil & Good. They believe that an increase in one automatically feeds an increase in the other to keep the balance. The King of Java in a bid to usurp Bali has woken the old Gods and created an imbalance that threatens to destroy the island country.
Neer, a Himalayan Priest has had visions of Bali and a force has driven him to go there to save the island and introduce new gods to them in a bid to save the island country.
Can Neer introduce Balians to new Gods, can new Gods overcome the old Gods? Can Bali be saved?That’s the story.

Influences from Bali

The title ‘The New Dewtas, The Rise of Rudra’, has a Balian influence to its spelling and is appropriate to the story as the tale involves new Gods and Rudra being invoked to save the land. The cover has an Indian Roadside Piratey feel yet it’s good quality and depicts Shiva standing in the middle of a split Balian temple welcoming a new dawn. It’s a dark cover showing the emergence of new light with a blurb that tickles the mind and makes you want to know more of the story.

Based on a popular Balian folklore of Maharishi Markandeya who introduced Hinduism to Bali, The New Dewtas spins it’s own tale of the coming of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to Bali. Suraj Kothiyal through the story gives insight into the original Balian beliefs in ancestral spirits that protected the people, old Gods of myth and legend, and sekala and neskala, the balance between good and evil, the balance between everything actually – as more of one thing must bring about more of the other.

Set on the island of Bali Suraj Kothiyal has used the island, it’s people and its history to write out an adventure story with a prince and a priest fighting evil together. Mt. Agung the volcano, Mt. Sumeru the golden mountain, the gods Rangda and Barong, the mother temple Besakih, and the once-in-a-century Eka Dasa Rudra ritual are a part of this tale.
The book also has well drawn illustrations done by Sankha Banerjee which add to the visualisation of the story.

The Prince and The Priest

Erlangga, the Prince of Bali and Neer, a Himalaya Priest are the main characters of the story. Erlangga is shown as a strong but human character. He puts his island and it’s people above all else and yet he struggles with the idea of fighting his own mother, the Queen who has been bewitched and has transformed into Rangda, the evil witch. Neer is a young priest who must fight various temptations, rise above human failings, and overcome hurdles to spiritually further himself and save the island.

The characters have a lot of potential but I felt that Suraj Kothiyal has not explored them fully. The character detail feels superficial and to the point and most likely the reason why none of the characters made an impression on me. I would have liked to know more about Neer, Erlangga and a lot of the other characters too, like the Empu twins – their backstories, thoughts, motives, interactions,…

What Worked for Me & What Didn’t

The story is laid out well and holds a good pace mostly through out with a pick up towards the climax. I found myself full of anticipation and excitement towards the end and the book did not disappoint.

When I picked up The New Dewtas, I was sceptical about my liking it, the cover at first glance seemed cheap, the author’s note had errors, I wasn’t expecting much from the book. The writing style and language though grew on me and by midpoint I found I was enjoying the writing style; and there were no errors in the actual text of the story. The language is simple and the book reads like a simple Grandma’s bedtime story.

Wherein lies my biggest complaint with the book – it is not detailed enough. There were a lot of events and sub-plots that I would have liked to know more about. A lot of characters are introduced who seem important but it turns out they play trivial roles, like Takala, a girl who shows up as a possible love interest for Neer, but that idea goes nowhere. Sural Kothiyal offers all the information you need but not all that you want. This book has potential to be double the story with lots more action and detail filled in.

As of now though, The New Dewtas is a great light read, a simple tale of good triumphs over evil, and an insight into old Bali culture and tradition. I recommend you read The New Dewtas if you have an interest in mythology/folklore and it’s spin-off stories. Also if you have a thing for Indian Writing.

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Suraj Kothiyal, hails from Dehradun with his family roots belonging to the Himalya region. His grandfather, who came to Dehradun from his home in Himalyas at an age of 13, serves as an inspiration for his debut novel, The Lost Devtas. The New Dewtas is his second novel.
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter
 
 

December 27, 2018   No Comments

Book Review: Ponni’s Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan

Ponni's Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan
 

Ponni’s Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan

Summary:

(Goodreads)
This is an English Translation Of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan.
Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan is a masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers. Many authors have written phenomenal books in Tamil literature after Kalki Krishnamurthy, but Ponniyin Selvan remains the most popular, widely-read novel. It has just the right mixture of all things that makes an epic – political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, huge dollops of romance, infidelity, seduction, passion, alluring women, unrequited love, sacrifice and pure love.

 
Ponni's Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan
Title: Ponni’s Beloved
Author: Sumeetha Manikandan
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Indreads (February 16th 2017)
Genre: Indian Fiction, Indian Epic, Tamil Literature, Translation
Read: eBook
Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 

My Review:

Note: I received this book from the author via The Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

Though Ponni’s Beloved came to me for review, I thought the best person to review this book would be my MIL. Mom has read the original by Kalki and so is the best equipped to read and compare the books. The following are her words… [With a few of my edits 😛 ]

Mom’s Review of Ponni’s Beloved 😀

The original Ponniyin Selvan (Son of Kaveri) by Kalki Krishnamurthy with narrative pictures by the artist Maniam is one of the most unforgettable novels for Tamil readers.

In English Sumeetha Manikandan has captured the essence of the novel very well. The contents and narration of the story is almost the same as the original. She has not deviated in any way with the description. The flow of the story, the descriptions and the explanations were very good.

In Tamil the descriptions of the areas and the celebration especially in Adi Perukku (Chapter 1), Gokulashtami (Chapter43) & the Kuravai Koothu are so elaborate that the reader gets immersed in the story and feels like he/she is among the characters.
Sumeetha too has tried to involve the reader with her way of narration, however some of it is lost in translation. I had never expected that anyone could translate this without spoiling the flow of the story, but Sumeetha Manikandan’s Ponni’s Beloved comes quite close to the original.

Ponni’s Beloved has good momentum and once you start you can’t stop. The author has also used a lot of Tamil words which add to the feel of the tale. The book also has a bibliography at the end.

Some things that stood out in comparison to the original –

Kadambur described here is not the one near Kovilpatti. The hero Vanthiya devan is travelling from Kanchi to Thanjavur, so the place should be somewhere between Kallakurichi & Ulundurpet.

The one thing which is very much missing is the pictures of the artist Maniam, which added to the narrative along with the writer’s description in the original.

The character ‘Idupankari’ is spelt wrong. The sound of the name being important as Idumpankari means a person giving trouble.

Avvaiyar is blessed with old age, a boon she gets from Lord Ganesh and not Lord Muruga.

Parting Words…

I enjoyed reading Sumeetha Manikandan version of Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan and look forward to part 2.

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Ponni's Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan
Sumeetha Manikandan is a bookaholic, thinker, feminist and a daydreamer, she reads across genres and is a crazy fan of history, romance and science fiction novels.
An avid reader of historical novels, she has been translating Kalki Krishnamurthy’s classic Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan for the past ten years and hopes to translate more of his novels to English.
Sumeetha is married to filmmaker K.S. Manikandan and lives with her nine-year-old daughter in Chennai.”
 
Author Links:
Website/BlogGoodReads │ Twitter – @sumeetha2 │ Facebook – Page
 
 

May 27, 2017   2 Comments