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.