Review: I, Rama Age of Seers Book-1 by Ravi Venu for Blogadda

I, Rama

Age of Seers Book-1 by Ravi Venu

Immortality has a Price

If there is a story that has been told and retold since time immemorial, it is the story of Rama. The fascination to reinvent this tale attacks writers from all across the world. Ravi Venu is of these. His version of the Ramayana is presented back to front. It starts with a much older Rama who knows that his life is coming to an end. He relates the story to his brothers, Hanuman and sons Lava and Kush. The reason for the twist in the tale is inexplicable as the story was first recited to the world by Lava and Kush under the tutelage of Sage Valmiki!

The author tries to bring in a lot of modern physics, chemistry and laser technology in describing the use of weapons. He also brings in astrophysics, astronomy and a whole lot of cosmology in his descriptions of the times and its protagonists.

The story has many other twists that do not sit pretty. There is a great deal of posturing in the character of Kaikeyi. Why do men not understand the insecurities that can be played upon on a woman’s mind and impel her into acting the way she does? Valmiki’s Kaikeyi was mainly interested as a mother in safeguarding her son’s interests. She uses the situation to get what she thinks is the best deal for her son. Ravi Venu builds her up as a warrior queen and ascribes all kinds of motives and pre-knowledge that is difficult to swallow. Situations too are placed in different chronological orders like the incident of Sita being able to lift Siva’s bow while no other person in Mithila can do so.

What upsets me about this book is its darkness—beginning with the cover. This was a feature that I deplored in Ashok Banker’s series as well. The first volume is totally focussed on demons, supernatural creatures and dark and sickening details about depravity. The fascination with evil dominates. Even Viswamithra’s account—reported by Rama—fails to bring out the important factor that his journey to Brahmarishihood is a parable that teaches the common man and woman to bring into control the different emotions of greed, lust, jealousy, anger etc. The language too is often convoluted and the syntax is awry. The book needs a heavy dose of editing with sentences and words misplaced.

This is a story that has fascinated, motivated, influenced and embedded itself in the psyche of a nation and its people. Will this version continue to do it, I am sceptical.

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About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest is acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays.
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8 Responses to Review: I, Rama Age of Seers Book-1 by Ravi Venu for Blogadda

  1. rummuser says:

    I would rather not comment in detail. I will not buy and read it.

    Like

  2. Vijayalakshmi Renganathan says:

    Your view is absolutely in perpendicular to quite a few other good reviews I read on Flipkart and blogadda. So for me it seems a pretty interesting read. Kaikeyi and Sita are strong women is what it means, why does it repel to have strong women ?
    Also, does the author specify it is a translation of Valmiki’s narration? Why is science so refuted when thats what is needed for today’s world.

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    • padmum says:

      Hi Thanks for your comment. Yes not only Sita, but all the women characters in the Ramayana are very strong people–they don’t get their due in the male versions of the epic. I think the author is bending backwards to set a scientific background and explain how the sages and seers could know so much about the universe, creation and nature without any of the modern scientific paraphernalia. They were so close to nature that they did not need a telescope or microscope.

      In fact the author uses Rowlings ‘portal’ a great deal. I just disliked the darkness of the book and I felt that you don’t have to present old wine in a new bottle!!

      This is my view and I stand by it!!

      Like

      • vijayalakshmi renganathan says:

        Thanks for your reply. I find it interesting to read science in mythology. In your terms giving a powerful nature to women by a male author is good. Also, Portal is not JK Rowling word, port hole is from JK Rowling.
        Starting with meluha the redefinition is good, I feel.

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  3. rummuser says:

    I will agree that the Ramayana is full of very strong women and that is the only redeeming feature about it. All the men bar Ravana, Vali and Hanuman come across as wimps.

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  4. Maxi says:

    I take it that in his book, Ravi Venu belittles men and gives women a position of strength. This attitude may not attract many readers.
    Blessings – Maxi

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    • Vijayalakshmi Renganathan says:

      I read the book, it was really good.
      Yes strong women but fullto action and awesome men. No one is dull or slow witted, incl Mantara or Urmila (even if they show up in just 2 lines).

      @Maxi: Why does giving woman a position of strength have to belittle men ??
      Rama and Lakshmana are super humans even Dasaratha is shown in a brilliant frame.

      It is not Valmiki’s version, so this Kaikeyi is totally a different person, the author has his choice. My husband is reading it now and says he likes it until now.

      It flows very smooth once Kaikeyi takes over. Scientific explanation to Ganga and the logic behind Parasurama etc made sense, infact its easy read for my kids than many other myths.

      Over all – a good book and I finished in 1 sitting! It was a small book, I would have loved to hear more on other characters (getting greedy now). Yes, cover is very dark and I think it is from the description of the maluk infested dark forest before facing Tataka, arrow torn roof to let the light in. I would say, welcome to the new world Lord Rama!

      Like

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