The Scion of Ikshvaku: Book Review by Asha Seth

Let’s write a book. Choose an epic mythological tale; one that is revered by every Indian, since generations. Prise out the main figures, perhaps, ones religiously worshipped. Stick to the original settings, how else will readers relate? Throw in some 21st century slangs and expletives. Add few not-so necessary war scenes. And of course, Google the synonyms for every damn word. Why? Well, because you know why. And lastly, let’s have some sorry-ass frivolously stupid damp-humoured dialogues. Voila! We have a book.

To be honest, I could write a ridiculously lengthy spoiler review but I’m going to save myself the trouble.

When Amish Tripathi began with the Shiva Trilogy, he wasn’t the first writer to write a book inspired by famous mythological figures. But he definitely had different things on his mind. Because twisting away the tales, creating whatever he created, he must have been fritty.  And yet, the first book in the Shiva trilogy was good; the rest two, please don’t even get me started. If that wasn’t unbearable, the first in the Ramchandra series is just paltry reworking of the epic Ramayana we’ve grown up listening to.

Enough beating around the bush now.

The Scion of Ikshvaku
Image Credit: Goodreads

Ram is the first-born son of King Dashrath and Queen Kaushalya, but he’s something akin a bad-omen because the day Ram is born is the only day in history of Ayodhya that Dashrath lost a battle. Bharat, Lakshman, and Shatrughan – Ram’s brothers have distinct roles to play. Ram is the ethical law-abiding brother, Lakshman is the bold angry young man. Bharat is the pragmatic and quite the ladies’ man, and Shatrughan is the bookworm.

Raavan, the demon king quite steals the show. Vashishtha, the gurukul teacher takes part in raising the young princes while sage Vishwamitra has a certain mission for Ram. It’s on this mission that Ram meets Sita, the Mithilan princess and wins her over as wife in a traditional swayamvar. Crux of the story follows Ramayan very closely.

You find characters that struggle for recognition and in the process end up looking like C-grade imbecile halfwits, a plot that begs for fundamental space, petty war scenarios which look thoroughly forced in, the story simply dragged to a cliff from where from the reader can jump off and finally end the tale. But Amish has different plans as he is worked up a sequel – Sita, the warrior. Bless my heart! Wasn’t the torture enough?

Amish might soon be the next Chetan Bhagat. With the promise of a classic Bollywood masala mix of action-romance-adventure in the rewritings of some of the legendary tales in Indian mythology, he sure is a tough competition for Bhagat.

Many devoted readers have cluttered the internet with raving reviews about the book. Did they get sick after reading the book, or perhaps, weak in the head? They obviously did, otherwise no one in their right mind would’ve rated it a 5 or even 4. Or are these reviews paid for? I’m left to wonder. In any case, it’s shameful to have replicated one of the legendary tales into something this abysmal.

I’d urge you to read ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ only if you are as piqued as I was to find out who Ikshvaku is. I ain’t tellin’ ya! That’s all folks!

If you happen to read ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.

©The Musing Quill