If Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia was the literary diet you grew up on, Amish Tripathi and Rajiv Menon could well be the best prescriptions for your dose of fantasy fiction, while connecting you with your heritage.
Thundergod –The Ascendance of Indra tells the story of Indra. Indra is regarded as the God among Gods – for being the only one of them all that is closest to being a man, for he is a god that makes mistakes. With flaws aplenty – arrogance, ego, anger and insecurity – Indra is central to the plot. A very beautifully woven storyline and a rich fabric of Indian mythology come together in a mellifluous melange of literary grandeur.
Thundergod takes us through the war between the Devas and the Asuras, with Indra’s character forming a very significant part. The tagline of the story hauntingly reads: ‘One day a prince from one of the four great tribes will unite the sons of Aditi and he will sow the seeds of an empire that will rule the world.’ Indra’s character is a common thread that runs through different sub-plots and stories, fusing them in what forms the grand big picture. Some of the book’s best moments and descriptive prose are of the war that took place at the Gates of Susa, the deluge of waters that destroyed the very edifice of the Harappan civilization and the fantastic stories of Mitra. Rajiv Menon has done immense justice to Indra’s character, portraying him in a very relate-able fashion, in shades of humanity. The story also carries within it a very poignant rendition of relationships: especially that of Indra’s close ties with Soma.
However, what pins you down about the book is not the narrative, but the way in which Indra is presented. That is the crowning glory of the literary achievement that the book is. That Indra is the subject is in itself a matter worth appreciating – as the core focus of most Indian fantasy fiction has more to do with Vishnu or Shiva and their myriad avatars.
If one had to point out the downside, it would be the over imperfection of the Gods. While the genre of imperfect lords is well received, the flaws begin to rear its head when you find that the imperfections are not handled or narrated in the right way. One such example is the sexualisation without sensualisation of the story. The scenes seem to lack flavour, and are largely rendered with a strange impassiveness. One other mild drawback is the overt attention that seems to be attached to Indra. He may be the central character, but that doesn’t allow license to overshadow the other characters in the book whatsoever.
Nevertheless, Thundergod is a book worth reading and re-reading, as it breaks new ground in the rendition of fantasy/mythology.