(I live-blogged reading the book’s first 4 chapters here)In what feels like one of the greatest feats I have accomplished since clearing my Chartered Accountancy and learning to cook without calling a fire engine, I have read, nay, finished reading the Scion of Ikshvaku. It took a lot of willpower to plough through this book – will power I didn’t know I possessed.

There is no doubt that this book is terrible, but I would still urge you to read it because it is one of those so bad that it’s good type of books – the entire time you’re reading the book, you will struggle between choosing to turn the page or rip the book in two, and the former will win if you paid Rs.350/- for it, or are reading it in an expensive device. Here are the times when I felt like ripping it up but didn’t –

 

  • In my previous post, I had I had said a lot about how it was 1700000 BC, etc. That was a mistake, because the according to the book’s timeline, the story is based in 3400 B.C – (roughly) around the same time the Indus Valley Civilization was shaping up, and it is in this period that are mentions of rotor blades, of surgical procedures, and most notably, India, right in the first few chapters. If you thought this was bad, it gets worse. We get to read about ayuralays that have freakin’ lobbies, policemen, courtrooms, and judges who interpret “clauses of the laws”, scientific experiments, glass and metal, diplomatic offices, and existential crises, and biological warfare. BIOLOGICAL WARFARE! Dei, wheel only was invented 600 years ago da! And you are already on to biological warfare! Vitta you’ll bring in the U.S Army and President Bush also.
  • It is evident that Ram is not the favourite of Dashrath because as far as he’s concerned, the newborn was the reason he lost the battle – to the point where all the nobility refer to him as “the taint of 7,032” (I was disappointed by this actually. Only “taint of 7,032?” No Ayodhyan news crier asking him if he feels responsible and that the nation wants to know?)
  • 3 year old Lakshman has a lisp. It’s quite adorable if it weren’t for the fact that he lithpth in englith throughout the thapter. Like how’th that even poththible.
  • Bharat’s serial dating. “This is his fifth girlfriend” muses Ram at the beginning of Chapter 7. Fifth girlfriend. I mean what is this? Keeping up with the Ikshvakus?
  • The part of the book which frustrated me the most was in the 6th chapter – the princes are in their gurukul with Vashishta, where they discuss the origins of civilization. Shatrughnan, in 3400 BC, tells us about the origins of civilization, and about the Vedic people of this yug (who probably practised #yog).

“The Ice Age is not a theory. It is a fact”
“Yes Guruji,” said Shatrughnan. “Since sea levels were a lot lower, the Indian landmass extended a lot farther into the sea. The island of Lanka, the demon-king Raavan’s kingdom, was joined to the Indian landmass. Gujarat and Konkan also reached out into the sea” …..”Two great civilizations existed in India during the Ice Age. One in south eastern India called the Sangamtamil, which included a small portion of the Lankan landmass, along with large tracts of land that are now underwater. The course of the river Kaveri was much broader and longer at the time. This rich and powerful empire was ruled by the Pandya dynasty.”
“And?”
“The other civilization, Dwarka, spread across large parts of the landmass, off the coast of Modern Gujarat and Konkan. It now lies submerged. It was ruled by the Yadav dynasty, the descendants of Yadu”
“Carry on”
“Sea levels rose dramatically at the end of the Ice Age. The Sangamtamils and Dwarka civilizations were destroyed, their heartland now lying under the sea. The survivors, led by Lord Manu, the father of our nation, escaped up north and began life once again. They called themselves the people of vidya, knowledge; the Vedic people. We are their proud descendants.”

 

    •  Shatrughnan talks about Gujarat and Konkan. GUJARAT AND KONKAN. Whether he also drew their borders on India Outline map as part of geography test? (There are also mentions of Kathmandu and Egypt further down in the book)
    • Sangamtamil. Ada paavigala! Naanga dhaan kadachoma? A little back history: The Sangam age began in 6th Century BC, but let’s not forget the fact that there ARE mentions of the Chola/Pandya kings in the epics, most notably in the Mahabharata.When you set a story in a certain period, you are obligated to stay true to that period – I’m not saying that books have to be like amazingly perfect in terms of history, but the ridiculousness in this just unbearable. Point being: Feel free to make up fictional kingdoms! Why not just Tamils? Or the Dravidians? Altering or making fiction out of real history (unless it is a very specific story which set in that age, the first example that comes to mind is Wolf Hall), and in a scale like this, is just irresponsible.
    • Pandyas were destroyed before the onset of the Ikshvaku dynasty it seems. If Nedunchezhiyan knew about this, he would rise from his grave and give this book a 0 rating on Amazon along with a ‘not satisfied wat a disappointment, plz don’t buy ths book…s crap’ review.
    • Dwarka – I am fairly certain that the last Yadav emperor per the timeline that this book is following is Sharad Yadav.
  • Apart from history-geography kodumai that is prevalent through the book, Ram, Lakshman and Dashrath use words like “Dammit”, “Why the hell?”, “Wow!”, and most notably, “Touché” (French. They speak FRENCH!) quite liberally.
  • There’s even a retelling of the 2012 rape case in the book – a well loved female character is violated and her naked body is strewn in public. The entire city is furious and rises to protest for justice, only for the courts to tell them that since the perpetrator is a minor, he will not be executed. This is, however, the only ‘modern’ incident in this book. I’m hoping the second book will have an incident ‘inspired’ by 2002/1984, and the third, Auschwitz.

 

  • There’s also this line from the book where Manthara tells Kaikeyi that she could use her two boons since the Raghu clan would never go back on their word. She says, Raghukul reet sadaa chali aayi, pran jaaye par vachan na jaaye. My knowledge of hindi may be limited but I AM SURE that this was where the dialogue was taken from.

  • Separating the book from everything that I’ve written above – the style of writing, the history, everything. If you were to forgive everything and strip it down to the message – it just feels like one long sermon that the author wants to give us about how the ideal modern Indian society should be, right from the futility of religion based fighting (God is one! Satyam Ekam!) to respecting the laws of the land (the ‘rape’).
  • Throughout the time I read this book, I would insist that my husband would listen to my dramatic readings of particularly awful paragraphs. Once I finished the book and listed everything that I’ve listed here, the lawyer that I live with took it upon himself to defend the author to the best of his abilities. The language is what the bulk of readers understand, he said. It is what is accessible. Maybe Amish, now that he is an author with mass reach, felt like he needed to use his readership base to convey a larger message for greater good.
I promised myself I wouldn’t use a gif in this post, but here it is.
  • We did ponder, however, about how so many people were raving about this book. How? Where were the 0 star reviews? We took it upon ourselves to scour through reviews on the internet. When I found that around 50 odd people had given it a ‘1’ star review, I was ecstatic. Look! I told S. Discerning readers! Turns out, the 1 star reviews were consistently for this reason:
If you are an aspiring novelist, in India, from India, looking to write a good book for India, I suggest you pack your bags and head for the hills.