The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.
But was the Halahala truly destroyed?
A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.
As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to Samrat Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!
A sweeping tale of honour and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend.
Confessions first: I don’t like fantasy, hence I don’t read fantasy. Not really ashamed, but I haven’t even read Harry Potter, though I liked the movies and would read the series (soon). Mythology fares a notch better, as I haven’t read much there, just a stray okayish novels by Indian writers. Now when these two genres are blended and mythology is not drab or boring – comes The Vikramaditya Trilogy.
The first chunk of memory that Vikramaditya evokes is that of the television series ‘Vikram aur Betaal.’ Though sloppily made, it was our first exposure to this mytho-historical king in childhood. Decades later, Vikramaditya comes back in written, with a lot of resolve, spunk and war. The book begins promisingly with Vikramaditya happily ruling Avanti and a small ripple is created by a pack of Huna soldiers who seem to be on the verge of return. The readers are gradually acquainted with the king and his kins, his navaratna or nine councillors, the queens and their apathy towards each other.
For the uninitiated, Halahala is the poison that was churned from the oceans, expecting Amrit instead. It was deemed to be so potent that it could destroy the three universes and who better than the destroyer himself to consume the poison and save everyone. If the Halahala didn’t exist anymore, what’s the story about? You have to read to find out because it has been crafted so beautifully. The best part for me was reminiscence of snippets of mythology listened to as a kid. Sometimes I could relate to what I knew about the characters and the plot, sometimes I couldn’t. For the less informed like me, the book provides a lot of insight to the reign of Vikramaditya and his surroundings. For the mythology part, well, India is a diverse country. All of us have heard different versions of the same story from our past generations. I’ve discussed, argued, compared and found out that a lot of stories differ in various states of our country.
Cons of the book – I loved the character of Betaal while I was a kid. I’d loved to have read more about him in this book, but he appeared very briefly, not to my content. There are a few subplots that probably the author felt were important, like that of Shoorasena and Magadha; they just turn a tad lengthy at times. And I found the climax abrupt. It’s like the best has been reserved for the sequel, which didn’t seem fair. The aftermath of war with the Maruts could have been elaborated a bit more in the epilogue.
Kudos to Shatrujeet Nath for bringing back Mythology and Fantasy in my reading habitat. Recommended for everyone, especially for young adults to get familiar with our mythology which is mostly verbally passed on through generations.
My Rating: 4.5/5
About the Author:
Shatrujeet Nath has sold ice-creams, peddled computer training courses, written ad copy, and reported on business as a journalist and assistant editor at The Economic Times. His first book, The Karachi Deception, was published in 2013. The Guardians of the Halahala, his second book, and the first in The Vikramaditya Trilogy series, was published in 2014. At present, he is writing The Conspiracy at Meru, the second volume of the trilogy. When he is not writing, he can be seen reading or playing with his daughter – or daydreaming of buying a small castle in Scotland.
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
Author(s): Shatrujeet Nath
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House, Year Published: December 2014
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 428
ISBN-13: 9788184956382 , ISBN-10: 818495638X
This review is also shared with the First Reads Challenge at b00kr3vi3ws and The Indian Quills Reading Challenge at The Tales Pensieve.