Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: The Curse of Surya by Dev Prasad

There is a current trend to blend ancient Indian history and religious events with fiction. Few to mention are Scion of Ikshvaku, The Seal of Surya, Ajaya, The Curse of Brahma, The Mahabharata Secret etc. This book, "The Curse of Surya" clearly stands out of all those for the very reason that it takes a peculiar (and hence unexpected) piece from Krishna's life related to Shyamantaka and presents it to its readers in a form blended with a thriller. Shyamantaka is usually a known jewel to all the people of India, especially, the Hindus. But, the details they know are very limited (the term they includes me too)  - it ends at the fight between Krishna and Jāmbhavān, Krishna taking Shyamantaka and Jāmbhavān gifting Krishna his daughter Jāmbhavati.

Interwoven with connecting the events of a reporter, an investigator, and a smuggler to the precious gem, this book is exemplary in this category of books. The depiction of various historical happenings you see in this book speaks volumes on the amount of research that Dev Prasad has done. The way the author connects the northern part of the nation to the west is amazing (Mathura to Dwarka). I had to really search in Google Maps to understand the demography explained in this book on Dwarka, Okha, Bet Dwarka, Pancha Teerth etc., I also had to use Google to understand Vajranābha and his relation to Krishna and Dwarka to understand the connection better. The language used in this book is a fine example of how best one can narrate the set of historical events in the current scenario when combining with fiction. Everyone will like the humor sprinkled throughout the book. Frankly, it is not really easy to introduce subtle humor in a serious book like this. Two things I would like to call out. "I will have a black coffee with lots of milk and sugar" and when SP Shenoy gets disturbed by a late night call from SP Nisha, he says "I guess I am destined to take orders from women."

There are few questions that will naturally arise in any reader's mind that could have been explained or connected better: who really changed the Krishna idol in the box to AK47, how the old man Blanchard reached the old dusty library and Nisha trusting him first, how can anyone go on without having any food for so long (I understand it is quite normal in fiction, but the tedious explorations that David & Sangeeta undertakes (like scuba diving) need quite some energy!), what is Kathoria's real role etc. Further, from my limited knowledge, Sanskrit is one beautiful and peculiar language that maintains the meaning unchanged, even if the words are shuffled. So, I don't really understand the need for rearranging the words in the final set of clues at the Shankhodara Teerth Temple (based on numbers). Also, a normal reader might experience a slowdown when he reads that the second search based on the first set of clues results in another knot to be untied.

The next set of events will ensure the book continues to keep you interested and surprised. Being a techie, I especially like the final part where the author connects the set of events with tsunami (the highlight here is that there is a lot of technical explanations for tsunami). Overall, a well-conceived, superbly narrated fiction that lives up to and beyond what it promises on the back side of the book "Fast-paced and gripping, The Curse of Surya will keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat while you unravel one of the biggest mysteries in 5000 years."

Sure, these 300 pages are going to keep you seated on the edge, entertained until you finish it, as they did to me.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are strictly personal and not influenced by any other person.

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