The Manticore’s Secret- Book Review

 

The Manticore's Secret- Samit Basu
The Manticore's Secret- Samit Basu

This one is my favorite book in the Gameworld Trilogy. And I absolutely love it. If I could, I’d wrap up my review here-This book is brilliant, go read it. But no, professional obligations require me to wax eloquent for longer, and I must admit, I like the prospects.

The Manticore’s Secret begins with the hush-hush arrival of Ravians back into the world and our hero Kirin trying to do good as the new Dark Lord. There’s chaos and confusion in the world, each race trying to seize control and set their grand plans of world domination into action. Basu plays upon the various conflicts while keeping the reading thoroughly entertained with his eccentric and smart heroes and heroines. If earlier there was the love triangle of Maya, Asvin and Kirin, now it has expanded into a love parallelogram. And if you count the villains in each sub-love-story, oh boy, it is delicious drama.

Basu introduces more plotlines and subtexts into the second installment, the best of them being Maya meeting the unwaba, who tells her about the gods playing with this world. You know all those times when you’ve had the feeling that the gods above are playing with your lives and treating it as a sitcom that they can manipulate according to their various whims? Well, Basu proves that to be the case in his tale, with the many powerful deities creating this Gameworld and each one trying to win it, by hook or crook. That has to be one of the most entertaining and pun-ny concepts I’ve come across in a long long time.

If you were delighted by his characters last time, this time you’d be overjoyed when you meet some more creatures of Basu’s mind. One of the most interesting one is Red, the shapeshifter. The many small battles fought between her various alter-egos will trouble and amuse you throughout the book. Better even are the names Basu gives her and her alter-egos. They help you imagine her in all her fictional glory. I think that’s one of the strong points for his characterizations- they are enormously helpful for people who have this compulsive visual imagination. And while most series, begin to start doing the “for the greater good” rigmarole, SB strays from the normal path and lets his characters make decisions that will work out for their good, with the greater good being an accidental positive outcome. And that is what makes them so much more relatable and more importantly, likeable.

All in all, a fabulous read. Go pick it up now. And after you’re done send it over to me. I’d like to re-read it.

 

You can also read the review here.

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The Simoqin Prophecies – Book Review

The Simoqin Prophecies - Samit Basu
The Simoqin Prophecies - Samit Basu

Imagine all of your favorite myths and legends, fantasy series, science fiction pulp and the mish mash of all that and more is The Simoquin Prophecies. And a ruddy brilliant mash-up it is, brimming with puns and references and an underlying subtle current of humor that restrains it from becoming an outrageous parody of all its constituents.

First in the GameWorld trilogy, the book begins in the year of rebirth of the greatest rakshas Danh-Gem and the revival of another hero who will bring his downfall. That is a quite standard premise for most tales of fantasy fiction, we agree, but Basu makes this a much more interesting plot with his unexpected twists and a host of magical creatures and eccentric characters. The book has all the magical creatures ever explored in Greek, Egyptian, Hindu mythology (some characters and sub-plots straight off from our beloved Ramayan), and some are his own inventions. There’s the ravian Kirin, the good-looking prince Asvin and Maya, our feisty and sharp heroine who’s the daughter of one of the most powerful spell-binders Mantric. While the Chief Civilian of Kol, the most powerful city in the world, worries about the rising amount of magic in the world and increasing number of rakshas sightings, Mantric is busy in Bolvudis (oh, don’t you love such wordplay?) setting up the world’s first magical movie studio.

Thus, Asvin, Maya, Kirin and Spikes (a pashan), the Dagger(under the name of Amloki), a centauress Red Pearl, and a vaman Gaam set off for Bolvudis to meet Mantric. Much adventure and drama happens on this eventful journey and they come to a parting of ways with Kirin.

Where does Kirin’s path lead him and what further adventures do Asvin and Maya tackle? What happens to the love triangle of Asvin, Maya and Kirin? Well, to know all of this and get some more entertainment, you must go read this book.

Basu pulls off an amazing and delightful debut, bringing a first off fantasy genre novel in India that would appeal to those brought up on Star Wars and Harry Potter and those who grew up listening to Indian folk tales and legends. Basu wrote The Simoquin Prophecies when he was 22 and got it published when he was 23, making him India’s youngest author at the time. A much laudable feat, especially when you compare it with the ambiguous rise of Indian writers in English. His work might not be the most original, but at least it doesn’t show any signs of colonial burdens and hang-ups or any of the quick chick-lit types coming out in the market. Instead he gives you a story made up with elements from your favorites, adds his own charm and creativity and dishes out a book that will have you wanting to read the second one very very eagerly.

You can also read other reviews here.