Book Review: The Well of Ascension :- *~Appreciative Whistles 1, 2, 3……~*

Well of Ascension

4/5 Stars Goodreads Rating System

“I kind of lost track of time…”
“For two hours?”
Elend nodded sheepishly. “There were books involved.”   ~Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, That’s kind of how I felt while reading this book. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely true, I experienced this one through Audio-book format, almost 29 hrs worth of audio, so time is one thing that I could keep a track of, though I still successfully lost myself into it.

The fabulous world of Mistborn with which Mr. Sanderson acquainted us in The Final Empire undergoes some dramatic changes in the trilogy’s 2nd installment. Understandably so if you think about it, What happens when you upset 1000 year old established order of things ? When you do the impossible and kill God ? When an empire which was united due to tyrannical terror has nothing to be afraid of anymore? When it’s ‘everyone for themselves’? And everything is up for grabs? The answer is simple, Chaos, chaos reigns. And so, what happens to the City which was home to the Almighty? It gets besieged of course, not by one not by two but by three armies, and the people trying to rule it, well, they find its not all that simple. After every Revolution comes a time of chaotic adjustment, that brief period where the people who fought so hard for their freedom doubt whether they have done the right thing. Specially, If there’s a chance that a thing worse than the overthrown tyrant ‘Lord Ruler’ waited in the shadows.

Brandon Sanderson, has earned himself a fan. Though, this is only my 2nd book by him, I absolutely love his storytelling skills, its completely engrossing. And though the book could feel like it drags a bit in the middle (not to me, nope, not to me at all) nothing was ever redundant. The plot of this book, Its fantastic characters and Sanderson’s writing prowess are absolutely awesome. This series, to my mind, is in league with the most famous fantasy works, a bit darker than ‘Harry Potter‘, and a bit lighter than ‘The First Law‘ series. This book, I felt was a preparation pad for all the characters of the series, understandable, the first one introduces you to the world, the problem and then stirs the pot quite vigorously, the second one would be chaotic, where everyone involved(The characters) will have to pull up their socks, tuck in their fears and grow and adapt through it all, the third, well, we could hope will be THE Showdown. Though, this by no means indicate that this book lacks action, although intrigue and politics take much of its space, the interest or the excitement in the story never wavers. The Characters of ‘Vin’, ‘Elend’ & ‘Sazed’ were most enjoyable, each struggling with a herculean task, their stories and POV’s were the focal point of interest and excitement.

I enjoyed this immensely, even though it had some cringe worthy romantic moments, but teenagers (the characters I mean), what could you expect, really. I am not even pissed that I will have to read the next one immediately, because that Ending, …well,…..okay, that Ending won’t let you rest with contentment, like the first one did. It practically thumps away in your head, you have to get the next one. I am very much looking forward to it. To all who love fiction and specially fantasy, Ladies and Gentleman, we have struck Gold with this series. Pick it up, oh you absolutely must.

 

Waiting for her Call

She said wait for my call

And as I sit here thinking

With a whirlwind in my head yet eyes unblinking

Reminiscing the exact moment of my fall

I can think of no good reason not to bawl

About love, women and the unfairness of it all

For is love really spring among seasons

A pleasure so unique amongst life’s many renditions

That it could make a practical man lose all reason

And make him bet everything on her toss or her roll

I hear the mocking sound of a clock chiming away

Belittling my vigil, its amusement echoing in this hall

For every second is a clap and every minute a slap

To the faith of this furiously expectant idiot of a chap

And yet he restrains himself, from banging his head on the wall

For he has been told

To wait for her call

Book Review: Midnight’s Children: – “A mind-boggling beauty of Literature “

Midnight's Childern

5/5 Stars

“To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world” ~Salman Rushdie

There’s something to be said about digressions, about the chaos of thoughts one after the other, mingling and colliding like waves of an uneasy ocean. Thoughts disjointed and devoid of sense in their individuality, yet in the end meaningful to each other, like various little pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle where two pieces could be as different as structurally possible and yet in the end complete each other and ultimately give that final reward ‘Meaning’, ‘Sense’ and of-course the feeling of accomplishment as we gaze at the full picture. The phrase “Learn how to see, Realize that everything connects to everything else” by Da Vinci comes to mind.

The narration of Saleem Sinai in this book gives truth to these words. Before delving into the story and its symbolism then, lets take a look at its structure, there are books written in First person style or a Third person style,  this uses both of them, sometimes Saleem refers directly to himself, sometimes still referring to himself he takes a third person approach, this amalgamation of narration gives this book a unique advantage, it can take philosophical detours and yet stay true to the story, it skews the events keeping the protagonist (in his delusion, truth , fallacy, we never really truly care) at the center of everything . Our hero (for the lack of a better word) is truly fickle in his tale and he admits it freely. This delving into the mind, sifting through thoughts, one moment at the start of something, the next revealing the end prematurely, connecting invisible dots, impossible theories. And you never really question any of it. Continuously in the tale he will give away the end, then delve back through much of his own musings of fantastic philosophies and start the story from the beginning, summarizing for our benefit all that transpired and how it connects (or seems to connect for him). Books that can successfully pull this off are hard to find (maybe “I, Lucifer” by glen Duncan or “The slow regard of Silent things” by Patrick Rothfuss), harder to read as well, not for everybody, the ramblings of a madman truly appeal to the mad, or do they? just to the mad?  The enormous success of this book decorated with “Man Booker Prize (1981), The Booker of Bookers Prize (1993), The Best of the Booker (2008) would suggest otherwise.

Magical Realism or Fabulism call it what you will, was a concept with which I had a passing acquaintance, courtesy of Neil Gaiman & his books “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys“, but to experience it so profoundly was a first, perhaps because I was familiar with the setting (India, Independence and its struggles) or perhaps Salman Rushdie is just a master of this world and his book an absolute masterpiece of this genre. And so we delve into the story which mixes realty and magic and cares not for the truth because “What’s Real and What’s true aren’t necessarily the same“. So,on 15th Aug 1947, when Nehru declared to the world “….At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…”, along with India awoke 1001 new born children, as special and full of possibilities as the newborn country itself. Midnight’s Children with fabulous potential and special powers of which Saleem perhaps was the greatest. But yet the story doesn’t start there, no sir, it takes 32 years and 170 pages to reach there, the story starts in 1915 Kashmir among rubies, diamonds and a spectacular Nose. With Saleem’s grandfather. To truly understand a person you have to swallow the world indeed. Or as he aptly summarized in the book.

“Who What am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”

You are getting the allure, aren’t you. And so, you hear him out from Kashmir to Bombay to Karachi to Dhaka to Delhi, you hear him out and all the lives that he touched or that touched him. The greatest of which was the nation itself, a life which rivaled history in its incredulity. The symbolism in the story might not be apparent to some, to me it was, but I can totally understand the confusion. The story travels with India on its journey to independence to partition to its flirtations with socialism communism to corruption to its wars of 1947  ’65 ’71 to its period of emergency 1975-77. Narrated by the person who shoulders the responsibility for everything and when I say everything I do mean everything.

The prose style Rushdie has used is marvelous, I have not read many post modern books but, this multitude of awesomeness has convinced me to pay more attention. The literary significance of this work would be apparent to almost everybody who read it. Frustrating is a word I am trying to avoid because generally frustrating books don’t keep me up at nights, when only the inability of my eyes to not stop burning force me against my wishes to give it a rest. So frustrating ,No, complex, Yes, maddening at times, Definitely, Goddamn this book is off the chain, a capital YES. And so this book will have a rare honor in my library, having a 5 star rating and a ‘mind-boggling’ tag. In one of the many reviews I read “This book is Rushdie’s love letter to India” and I concur, that is a most apt analogy, as this book not only celebrates the ‘crowd’ and multitude of concepts that form my country but also embraces the dark side of it, and shows that hope though not always but many a time trumps hate and when it does the result is a chaotic beauty of infinite proportions. I urge everyone to pick this one up, fully realizing that perhaps not everyone will be able to. So, to everyone who does the rewards would be fantabulous but beware ‘Here there be Dragons’.

 

 

Book Review: Ponniyin Selvan Book 2: Whirlwinds : – “The Plot thickens”

Pnniyin selvan Whirlwinds

4/5 Stars Goodreads Rating System

After completing his first commission, our rowdy hero ‘Vandhiyathevan’  departs on another, given to him by the beloved Chozha princess ‘Kundavai’, over whom he is obviously smitten. This task will take him to the namesake of this series, to ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ Arulmozhivarman, the younger Chozha prince himself. And the plot decidedly thickens.

The second book in the series lives up to its expectation and more. After getting comfortable with the writing style in the first book, you thoroughly enjoy the characters and the story line in this one. The web of conspiracies been woven by oh so many parties in this story is intriguing in the extreme, and the characters, specially the female one’s are most interesting, be it ‘Kundhavai Piratti’, princess of the Chozha empire, the beautiful but poisonous ‘Nandhini Devi’, the boat-woman ‘Poonguzhali’ or the deaf-mute ‘Mandakini’. They fill the colors in this story, with the pink of their love, the green of their jealousy, the white of their kindness, and the red of their vengeance. And of-course our headstrong hero Vandhiyathevan with his penchant for finding trouble wherever he goes, no dull moment in the whole story indeed.

We get to visit “Lanka” in the 10th century, as war wages on between the Chozha and Sinhala kings, the emerald island is experienced in uncharacteristic peace given the circumstances, courtesy of the benevolence of Ponniyin Selvan of-course. It’s common knowledge that ‘Kalki‘ visited Sri Lanka three times to get the story right, I am happy to report that his visits were not in vain. The plot is furthered by finally getting introduced to the central character of the series. The romance in the writing and the deftness of the plot makes this a specially pleasurable read.

I will be waiting for ‘Pavithra Srinivasan’s’ next installment of translation, of this great historical fiction, with all the eagerness and restlessness of a whirlwind.