Format : Paperback
My rating: /5
3400 BCE. INDIA
Ayodhya is weakened by divisions. A terrible war has taken its toll. The damage runs deep. The demon King of Lanka, Raavan, does not impose his rule on the defeated. He, instead, imposes his trade. Money is sucked out of the empire. The Sapt Sindhu people descend into poverty, despondency and corruption. They cry for a leader to lead them out of the morass. Little do they appreciate that the leader is among them. One whom they know. A tortured and ostracized prince. A prince they tried to break. A prince called Ram.
He loves his country, even when his countrymen torment him. He stands alone for the law. His band of brothers, his Sita, and he, against the darkness of chaos.
Will Ram rise above the taint that others heap on him? Will his love for Sita sustain him through his struggle? Will he defeat the demon Lord Raavan who destroyed his childhood? Will he fulfil the destiny of the Vishnu?
The Hymn at the start of the book:
Review: Scion of Ikshvaku was the most awaited book of 2015 in India. After the success of The Siva Trilogy, Amish is back with his first installment of the Ram Chandra Series. This book will keep you occupied and the characters will come alive. Amish has got a great talent of combining mythology and fiction perfectly. His imagination is beyond imagination. The thing I like about his book is reader does not need to know the complete Ramayan to understand it. He has put his imagination into the mythology to create a fiction. This is not a re-telling of a mythology, but he has twisted the story and characters to suit his plot.
The book was exclusively available on Amazon and I got my pre-ordered digitally signed copy.
The last page of the book gives a reference map of India in 3400 BC.
I will not be surprised if in future this book is turned into a major Bollywood hit. See the trailer of Scion of Ikshvaku below:
The first chapter begins with the kidnapping of Sita by Raavan in his pushpak Vimaan and death of Jatayu, a naga, who tried to save Sita. The story breaks at second chapter and it narrate the turn of actions that leads to this event.
The narration begins with the battle of Karachapa, in which the unconquerable chakravarti king Dashrath is defeated by the king of Lanka, Raavan. Coincidently, on the same day Ram is born to Kaushalya, the eldest wife of Dashrath. Dashrath is convinced that Ram is born with a bad karma and is a bad omen, as on the day of his birth he lost his battle.
Beside Ram, later three more princes are born from two other wives of Dashrath. Bharat from Kaikeyi, Lakshman and Shatrughan from Sumitra. Ram is an idealistic who follows and respects the laws strictly. According to him all are equal in front of the law. Whereas Bharath is very practical and real towards life. Lakshman is loyal to Ram but sort tempered and jumps to conclusions. Shatrughan is always immersed in books and scriptures.
Dashrath’s favourite queen Kaikeyi has an ally named Manthara. Manthara is the richest merchant of Sapt Sindhu and has a daughter named Roshni. Roshni is the rakhi-sister to the four brothers.
Once the four brothers are back from raj guru Vashista’s gurukul, take up their responsibilities in the kingdom. Ram is made the chief of police force while Bharath was made in charge of diplomatic affairs. Within a year the reforms that Ram instituted begun to have visible effect. The crime rate dip to all time low and he became popular among the common folks.
In one of the hunting trips, Ram had to accompany Dashrath. During this, Ram risks his life to save his father from attack by a leopard and is badly injured. Dashrath helps his son recover and during this time he has his first real conversation with his son and after this he decides to make Ram as the crown prince. Reader will certainly love the emotions in the father-son conversation.
Dashrath continued, ‘I blamed you for my defeat. My entire kingdom blamed you; cursed you. You’ve suffered all your life, and yet you never rebelled. I thought it was because you were weak. But weak people celebrate when twists of fate hurt their tormentors. And yet, you risked your life trying to protect me. Why?’
Ram answered with one simple statement. ‘Because that is my dharma, Father.’
Dashrath: ‘So, you don’t believe that you are to blame for my defeat at the hands of Ravaan, is it?’
Ram: ‘I don’t understand how the universe keeps track of our karma across many births, Father. I know I could not have done anything in this birth to make you lose the battle. May be it was something to do with my previous birth?’
Dashrath: ‘It was my fault. And I blamed the infant that you were. I made your life hell from the day you were born. You should hate me. You should hate Ayodhya.’
Ram: ‘I don’t hate anyone, Father.’
Dashrath: ‘I don’t know whether you’ve suppressed your true feelings completely or you genuinely don’t care about the ignominy that people have heaped on you. Whatever be the truth, you have held strong. The entire universe conspired to break you, and here you are, still unbowed. What metal have you been forge in, my son?’
Ram: ‘I was forged from your metal, my father.’
While everyone is happy around with Ram declared as the crown prince, Roshni had to go for her medical camp in one of the villages. While she was returning from her camp and was just an hour’s ride from Ayoudhya, she is brutally raped by Dhenuka, a village local, and his gang. She dies in a gruesome manner. This brings into the mind the Nirbahaya Delhi gang rape case of 2012. Within a week, the criminals are arrested and sentenced to death, all except Dhenuka. Dhenuka is a juvenile and as per law he cannot be executed.
Manthara is broken by this incident. She is angry on Ram. Because of Ram’s following of law blindly, the main convict of his daughter’s horrific death was still alive. Here the author gives a link as why Manthara influences Kaikeyi to ask for a boon to send to Ram for 14 years exile in forest.
Vishwamithra, the chief of Malayaputras, comes to Ayodhya to take Ram and Lakshman with him to defend his ashrams from asuras attack. While returning back to Ayodhya, Vishwamithra, takes Ram and Lakshman to Mithila to attend Sita’s swayambar. Sita is the adopted daughter of Mithila King Janak and also the prime minister of Mithila. She is a warrior woman and follows the laws strictly. Ram first sees Sita in the streets of Mithila defending a teenage boy and his head bends in front of her in admiration. Lakshman also is attracted towards Sita’s younger sister Urmila. In the Swayambar Ravaan also comes in his pushpak vimaan. But he is insulted by not given the first chance to shot the arrow and fulfill the conditions of swayambar. Ram comes out victorious fulfilling the swayambar condition and weds to Sita. Lakshman weds to Urmila in the same auspicious day.
In the mean while Ravaan prepares his body guards army for a war against Mithila to avenge his insult. Ram, Sita and Laksman with their alleys try to defend Ravaan’s attack. But in turn of events to save the Mithila people, Ram shoots out the Asuraastra, a daivi astras (a celestial weapon). Ravaan’s army is incapacitated. Ravaan escapes in his pushpak vimaan to save himself. Though the common people praise Ram for the victory over Ravaan, but Ram self-imposed himself for a 14 year exile as per law for using a daivi astra.
Ram requests Dashrath to banish him from Sapt Sindhu for 14 years, as per law for the use of daivi astra. Kaikeyi is aware Dashrath will not banish Ram, as he is going to declare Ram as the king in his stead, and that he will take Vanvaas in the forests. Manthara goes and reminds Kaikeyi of her two boons that she can ask from Dashrath.
Kaikeyi demands her two boons from Dashrath: First, Ram should be banished for 14 years and Second, Bharath should be declared as the crown prince.
Ram and Sita are prepared to go for their exile. Lakshman joins Ram after convincing Urmila to stay back in Ayodhya to take care of Kaushalya.
Ram, Sita and Lakshman along with Jatayu and his men had an eventful time in the Dandak forest. They settled and stayed in the banks of Godavari River in Panchavati. They had completed their 13 years of stay in the jungle. Now after one more year, they were supposed to return to Ayodhya. One day Vibhishan and Shurpanakha, the siblings of Ravaan, appears at their hut. Ram accepts them at his guests and allows them to stay in their humble hut. Surpanakha is attracted towards Ram. She tries to kill Sita by pushing her into the mighty Godavari. But sita takes charge of the situation and ties Surpanakha’s hands and brings her in front of Ram and Lakshman. Surpanakha is furious and she tries to attack Sita with a knife. In sudden turn of events, Surpanakha nose is cut with the knife held by her own hand. The Lankan’s retreat.
To avenge the Lankan blood, Ravaan kidnaps Sita from Panchavati in his pushpak vimaan during the last year of exile.
Amish’s has brought all the characters in the book alive with true emotions. The scenes will come vivid from the book, be it Kaikeyi saving Dashrath in the battle field, or Bharath avenging her sister Roshni, Manthara performing the rituals of her deceased daughter, Lakshman risking his life time and again to save Ram, Ram admiring Sita the first time he see her, Sita standing bold in the market place saving a teenage, Urmila crying to join Lakshman in the exile and many more.
Really appreciate Amish’s imaginations of inheriting Draupadi’s swayambar from Mahabharat into Sita’s Swayambar. Hanuman ji did do a guest appearance in this book, who with his men are still on the way locating Ram.
The author has brought into focus many of the social norms like caste system. Why birth should not be important but the actions should be important. He does open debate against polygamy just for political alliance. He has made successful attempt to link the vayuputras, nagas and soamras from his previous Siva Trilogy. I loved this book. This is one of the finest books I read in 2015. No doubt I will recommend this book to all readers.
In the book you will find the below symbols used. Here is the meaning of these symbols:
Click here for quotes from Scion of Ikshvaku.