Cross-posted from Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3081641646
Scion of Ikshvaku was my first Amish book. Amish has been called India’s literary rockstar, and has been compared with Dan Brown. So, naturally, I was much excited about reading him. Although I liked the storytelling, I was put off a bit by his writing style.
Being born and bred in a Hindu family, I knew the story in and out. So I carried a certain amount of bias into reading Amish’s version of Ramayan. Despite this I loved the big and small twists in this story, especially the parts where Amish has given logical explanations for what we’ve been taught since centuries to be the results of supernatural phenomena. I really liked that; Amish is super creative there.
I also loved how Amish has portrayed feminism throughout the book. Sita is shown as a strong-willed and independent better half of Ram, which is a far cry from her character’s TV adaptations. In most Hindu hymns and religious songs, Sita is worshipped along with Ram. After reading Amish’s version, I can now better appreciate why this is so. Also, Ram’s steadfast belief in monogamy and his reasons for that are very well put together by Amish. I enjoyed the bits where feminine and masculine societies were contrasted through Ram’s own thoughts.
Perhaps the best thing I liked in the book was Ram’s character development. Amish couldn’t have done a better job on that. During second half of the book I fell in love with the character, especially his stoicism, clear beliefs and respect for the law. His godlike mastery over archery was well represented.
What I didn’t like, however, were the clichés that Amish used generously throughout the book. His writing style in this book reflected a childlike excitement around telling a cleverly written story. I also felt a general lack of thrill in the story. Again, that could be because of my pre-contained biases. I knew the whole story already. But I tried my best to keep my existing knowledge at bay while reading Amish’s version. Still, I feel some major turns and twists may have been make more thrilling. The supposed cliffhanger (Hanuman’s entry) in the end also felt a bit lackluster.
Overall, Amish’s Scion of Ikshavaku is a good read, especially for people who want to go deeper into historical aspects of Ramayan’s world and want logical explanations for its events. But unless someone assures me that the next book in series (Sita) has a better writing and storytelling, I may not pick it up.