Liveblogging The Scion Of Ikshvaku - I

So I bought into the hype and purchased a copy of The Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish the previous day. I had skipped his Meluha series (simply ...

So I bought into the hype and purchased a copy of The Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish the previous day. I had skipped his Meluha series (simply because there was so much attention around it) and so I actually had no impression about his writing, other than that it was hugely popular. I started reading it this morning, and it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences - I ended up sitting down on my desk with a pencil and started circling and underlining sentences and passages. I gave it the benefit of doubt for about 1 more chapter after which I had SO many thoughts that I felt that I should actually live-blog reading it. This book has 30 chapters, so I'm going to divide this into 6 posts of 5 chapters each - assuming ofcourse, that I actually finish it. So here goes! (keep refreshing the page for updates)


Chapter 1
The book begins with Rama trying to shoot something and the generic descriptions of his lean-ness, tall-ness, etc.
"It's moving Dada" whispered Lakshman to his elder brother.
While I understand the need to italicise Dada in order to highlight Lakshman's secret bong-ness, I don't understand why "his elder brother" is highlighted. What is the special emphasis for? I've this habit of reading italicized text in Kamal Hassan's voice so this is just making the book unnecessarily dramatic for me.

Ram however, doesn't seem to be too concerned about Lakshman's loud whispering and is more concerned about releasing the arrow. Ram of course, kills the deer a whopping 4 paragraphs later despite Lakshman's constant whispering in his ear and after making some vital adjustments to his interfering angavastram (did you read it in Kamal's voice too?), which, as a frequent saree wearer, I can relate to.

Ram and Lakshman then go to the dead deer and profusely apologise ancient apologies and pray that it's soul will find purpose. I'm fairly certain that that dead deer's soul, upon hearing this, would've been like othadei

Anyway Ram and Lakshman are walking back talking about how there is some conspiracy that is afoot and Lakshman is fairly convinced that Bharat has something do with it but Ram's like Lakshman! and if this was a tamil serial they'd be alternating between their shocked and defiant faces with a guy wailing in the background but it's not.

Now there is a mention of Jatayu, who Lakshman refers to as Vulture Man because of his big nose and bald head. So apparently Jatayu is a Naga, a class of people who are "born with deformities" and were ostracised in Sapt Sindhu, the Land of the Seven Rivers. This is all wrong, because per Hindu mythology, Jatayu, is the son  nephew (thanks @kskarun!) of Garuda (the Eagle), who happened to be the greatest enemy of the Nagas. Calling Jatayu a Naga is one thing, BUT OSTRACIZING A RACE BECAUSE THEY HAD LARGE NOSES? OH THE HUMANITY!

Ok this is getting better. Ram and Lakshman are minutes away from their camp when they hear it.
A forceful scream!
A forceful scream. A FORCEFUL SCREAM - which begs the question: what the hell is a forceful scream? What is this scream forcing you to do?

The  distance made faint her frantic struggle. But it was clearly Sita. She was calling out to her husband. 
"...Raaam!"
"...Sitaaaaa!"
This is a slightly condensed version of the paragraph but I could read this part a 100 times and never stop feeling amused.

So Ram and Lakshman are running and Sita is screaming and it's all very dramatic, when:

"They heard the loud whump, whump, whump of Rotor Blades....This was Raavan's legendary Pushpak Vimaan, his flying vehicle"
ROTOR BLADES. ROTOR BLADES. This isn't the Pushpak Vimaan (which could actually be a great brand name for men's underwear. Pushpak Vimaan Baniyans and Jattis. Pushpak Vimaan, Saare Jahaan. Sounds good), it's the fucking Marine One or something. ROTOR BLADES. Excuse me. I need a minute.

So after Ram's seen the Lanka One take off with Sita, he spots a wounded Jatayu, who is very helpful in giving him this key piece of information "Raavan's...kidnapped...her" before he drops dead.

"SITAAAA"
The chapter ends thus. Normally I would stop reading here, but today I am in the mood to soldier on.


Chapter 2
The book is going back 33 years to the Port of Karachapa in the Western Sea to a pretty intense flashback. Dashrath (pronounced "Dash-rat") is offering prayers to Parshu Ram for a victorious campaign. There is a bit of backstory about how he made the empire more prosperous and had become "Chakravarti Samrat, or the Universal Emperor" (I hope you're reading it in Kamal Hassan's voice as well).
Anyway, so the kingdom is in pretty deep shit with the wars and everything because Dashrath is an elitist Kshatriya Douchenugget who has no regard for the trading class despite reaping huge profits from the "Trader King", Kubaer (this guy really needs a primer on how to use vowels efficiently).

So Kubaer got a little tired of Dashrath's shitty behaviour and did some cost cutting, thereby cutting a portion of the commission which King D believed was his. Shots were fired (I'm just using a popular phrase here, but given this book and the rotor blade incident I wouldn't be surprised if one of the soldiers had a 17000000 BC Machine gun) and now Dashrath is ready to get into war and teach him a lesson despite petty concerns like his resources which have been stretched out immensely and the fact that the treasury has no money.

"Apparently, My Lord, " said Mrigasya, "it is not Kubaer who is calling the shots"
Ok so I totally (almost) predicted this. Ofcourse Kubaer isn't calling the shots, because it is 17000000 BC and movies weren't invented then and therefore neither were directors, the men who directed the scenes and literally "called the shot" which is from where this phrase is derived. {edit! So I did some snooping and apparently this phrase was derived from this game called "Curling" in Scotland which was played in the 1500s. For what it's worth, the usage is still BS} But according to the author, Kubaer isn't calling the shots because his "head of trading security force" is.

*dramatic pause*

"His name is Raavan" 
So the book now briefly moves to Kosala, where there is some history about Dashrath's 3 wives and about how Kausalya is about to go into labour ("it appeared to be the real thing"). Thankfully the paragraph ends soon after, and we are back at the war scene.

Dashrath and Kubaer ("the fabulously wealthy trader") are trying to negotiate for peace one last time, but Fab-K, though nervous, doesn't back down and cites decreasing trade margins as a reason for the cuts. Dashrath tries to make him see reason with some impeccable logic, such as:
"I am not a trader! I am an emperor! Civilized people understand that difference"  
This unsuccessful meeting ends with Dashrath yelling some more, only for Raavan (with his "rippling musculature" and other such 50 shades of Grey type qualities) to openly smirk at Dashrath and tell him that he will be defeated by the Lankan armies.

"I assure you, I'll be waiting," said Jagdish Raavan
The rest of the chapter is essentially Dashrath screaming to Kaikeyi while she feeds him roti.

Chapter 3
Only two more and we can all go to bed! Kausalya is having trouble giving birth because instead of focussing on pushing the baby out all she can think about is how King D totes ignores her all the time now.
"All she desired was a fraction of the time and attenion that Dashrath lavished on his favourite wife, Kaikeyi"
Oh but it gets better.

"She soldiered on determinedly, refusing the doctor permission to perform a surgical procedure to extract the baby from her womb"
The only thing that is missing now from the scene is Venniradai Moorthy going "Nurse, sub-zero solution".

Kausalya continues to devote her energy to doing everything except pushing the baby out. Now she's thinking about the name, and decides that he will be named after The Sixth Vishnu, followed by some explanation about how Vishnu isn't a god, but a title etc. Whatevs. She decides on Ram.

Cut to Kind Doucherath who is taking on "Kubaer's eunuch forces" (seriously?). After great deliberation and strategising, he chooses suchivyuha, which is actually the same formation which I remember watching in 300, except there's no rock around them and they're on a beach and surrounded by ships and a fort which house impeccable archers who shoot arrows left right and centre. Dashrath gets stabbed and falls, but only after about 7 paragraphs of him going on in capslock.

Kaikeyi decides that it's up to her to save her husband now and charges on to the field to retrieve her husband. She gets pretty pissed on the way too.

"Damn you, Lord Surya!"
Damn you, Lord Surya. Damn you. Damn.

She does manage to save her husband - although she does get injured by an arrow because she thought the soldier would be chivalrous and let her pass (with a cup or three of tea maybe). Yay!

We're back at Kosala now. Kausalya has delivered a boy! A boy who was born exactly at midday - which brings a bit of a conundrum because according to their astrologer, a boy born before midday would be remembered as the greatest in history, and a boy born after midday would suffer great personal misfortune. "Are you sure he was born exactly at midday?" the astrologer asks. Yes, I checked it on my Casio Digital watch with calibrated time sensors", said the doctor. [Not a line in the book, but should be].

Chapter 4
Sage Vashishta, the royal sage of Ayodhya rolls in to town. Some gandalf like descriptions follow. We find out that after the war, Ayodhya has, predictably, fallen into penury, but hasn't lost power because it's subordinates are even weaker. Then we get to hear some history - but not just any ordinary history, the history of creation itself, and how the Ayodhyans (not to be confused with Anirudhians) viewed themselves. This is some amazing shit.

"It was believed that at the centre of the universe of this primeval ocean, billions of years ago, the universe was born when The One, Ekam, split into a great big bang, thus activating the cycle of creation.....the One God, Ekam, popularly known in modern times as Brahman or Paramatma"
Modern times, guys. Modern times. Anyway, after more boring history about the once great Ayodhya, Vashista takes some time to look at the Braavos style statues in the entrance of the city, which is of the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, but Amish has really put in some effort in ensuring that we will never be able to figure out if they are Gods or if they are men. Mahadev is a title, as is Vishnu, and Brahma is "one of the greatest scientists ever".

I am, in honesty, ok with this, because the paragraphs that follow in this chapter make the previous chapters seem like they were written by Rushdie. So Vashishta offers prayers to the trinity because he is about to start a rebellion. They are amazing prayers, after which he takes some soil from the ground and slaps it on his forehead, Yejaman Rajni style.

"This soil is worth more than my life to me. I love my country. I love my India"
This is all very patriotic and amazing EXCEPT IT'S A RETELLING OF THE RAMAYANA AND THIS IS VASHISHTA AND HOW THE FUCK CAN HE LOVE INDIA HOW THE FUCK CAN HE EVEN SAY IT'S INDIA IT'S FUCKING 1700000 BC I AM SORRY I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE.

"A small group of people walked solemnly in the distance, wearing robes of blue, the holy colour of the divine"
The absurdity doesn't stop. It just doesn't stop. Robes! Ayodhya had holy people who wore robes! Wouldn't be surprised if there's a mention of the Ayodhyan Pope next.

Now we find out that Dashrath has 4 sons in all now, apart from Ram, and that Vashishta has his eyes set on Ram and Bharat because one of them would help him fulfill his mission. Vashishta then draws his ancient scabbard which has been inscribed with the words Parshu Ram in "an ancient script", but looks suspiciously like emoji. The chapter ends with Vashishta taking a blood oath to "make his rebellion succeed, or die trying."


#Thoo



If only I had taken a brain oath to avoid this book.

30th June 2015, 10.30 PM: That's all from me for today, friends! I know I had said I would blog 5 chapters, but surviving 4 was hard enough. I'll be back tomorrow if you guys want the liveblog, that is. Let me know if you do!

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14 comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Please continue. For the same of Vashishta's oath!

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  3. Oh no. Please don't take any kind of oath! I've read the book but your 'analysis' is hilarious. Please continue. We are waiting! :)

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  4. In the name of Lord Surya, continue, Lavanya!

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  5. Please accept my sincerest thanks for this yeoman service. I am in the unfortunate position of having to read these books (Ashwin Sanghi, Amish, and others of their ilk) to keep up with book talk in the office. I soldiered through the first Meluha book and Chanakya but I simply had to draw the line at Krishna Key.

    I'm so glad you're performing this service to humanity. Please let the whump whump of our encouragement tide you over the passages in caps lock as you dissect the book with advanced surgical precision.

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  6. Oh dear! Hilarious :) Keep going - if only your book about the book could become the best seller.

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  7. Oh vow!!! What criticism!!! Why don't you pen a fiction?

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  8. This is fun. Where is the next part?

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  9. Eagerly waiting for rest of the story! Or couldn't you take it anymore?

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  10. Eagerly waiting for rest of the story! Or couldn't you take it anymore?

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  11. It appalls me that there are terrible books being churned out by the dozen each day but then would we have you blogging these funny posts without them? Keep 'em coming! :-)

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  12. Love your work and I'm assuming you're aware of it already. I'd just say one thing, I think you're misunderstanding one small thing here. Be it in the Immortals of Meluha series or this book, Amish isn't writing about reality, he's just writing his version of the same old story. His version, makes gods human. So now, what explanation we had earlier considering them god, is changed by him in his story as humanly explanation or logic. So its not like he's proving Ramayana right, he's writing what his interpretation of the story would be. We know about "bhramastra", weapon of mass destruction mentioned in these holy books. Now he's giving his version where he calls it or compares it with today's nuclear weapon. Similarly when he talks about pushpak vimaan or those roto blades, he is not saying helicopters were there then, he is trying to explain his version of puspak viman which we know was " something " that could fly because Ravan came in it and took sit a away. Time scale, I agree is wrong, but its only fiction and he is connecting it with his first series so he I guess has to keep following up from there. And no offense but, I'm big fan of humor, but I understand that you're showing your feeling about how upset you are because of his work. And criticism of someone's work this way doesn't seem a right approach to me. This is just a thing that came in my mind and I felt I should say it to you, however, that being said, you can TOTALLY ignore this if you don't agree. Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. Exactly my thoughts Rudra Kaushik. Here is my review khamir-p.blogspot.in/2015/07/scion-of-ikshvaku-book-review.html?m=1

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