I admit, I was starting to feel left out by the mass media’s modern massacre of mythology. Worshippers of Greek gods have Xena: Warrior Princess to hate. Kemetians probably loathe Stargate SG-1, and Odinists can weep into their hands (albeit peeking between their fingers) while watching Thor. But there wasn’t really anything Indra-centric in the entertainment world, so there was nothing to put me into a grumpy rotten temper and cause me to get annoyed and flail about in irritation–
Until now. Readers, I present to you Thundergod: The Ascendance of Indra (ISBN 9381626979).
From the jacket blurb:
“One day a prince from one of the four great tribes will unite the sons of Aditi and he will sow the seeds of an empire that will rule the world. Born of a prophetic union between the Earth Goddess Gaia and Daeyus, chief of the Devas, comes the story of a child recounted by history to have become a king and retold by legend to have transcended into a god. Indra, destiny’s orphan, finds himself growing up in a vortex of treachery and tribal incumbency. Shielded from the usurpers of his birthright only by the watchful eye of the warrior sage Mitra, he first sets out to conquer the hearts of his tribesmen, and then the kingdoms of the unmapped world. Aligning forces with his brothers by blood oath and divine intervention Agni, Vayu, Varuna and Soma, Indra embarks on a military campaign of epic proportions, stretching from the Euphrates in Asia Minor to Harappa on the Indian subcontinent, encountering formidable armies, demonic beings and powerful goddesses, and losing the only woman he really loves. Will he get her to love him again? Will he avenge the death of his father? Will he assume his place in the pantheon of the gods? In a compelling saga, blended by history, spiced by legend and mutated by myth, Rajiv G. Menon transforms ten years of research into a lightning rod of an action adventure that streaks into your consciousness with the speed of Indra’s thunderbolt.”
If you’re thinking, “well, that sounds ridiculous,” then here’s some sparkly CGI to hypnotise you into forgetting what you just read:
THE TRAILER, unlike the world has ever seen!
Of course, this is a novel about Indra, so the publishers had me by the proverbial balls from the moment they announced the title. I bought the book, I suffered through it, and now I’m going to review it as a public service.
The short version:
Meet Indra, the child of a prophecy so weighty that he’s one manger short of his own religion.
He’s got mad Deva skillz and is just so gosh-darned handsome…laaaaadies.
His muscles are many, his thoughts few.
Then he does some “love” things:
And some imbibing things:
And WAY TOO MANY murder things:
And transforms into a megalomaniacal psychotic man-god who’s very, very angry.
The really, really, really short version:
When you combine:
then you get:
Want to read a slightly longer recap? Just click the part with the clickie.
Right from the beginning, I had a profound sense of déjà vu, as if I had somehow already seen this book before.
There’s something familiar about the art work–
–but I can’t quite place it.
Anyway, moving on, this is the cover of the novel, and strangely, they chose to depict some random guy instead of the book’s hero. I don’t know who the gentleman shown here is, but it certainly isn’t Indra, who is clearly described on page 107:
“The rigours of his training had chiselled his body to perfection. It was built for speed and endurance, and those were Indra’s strengths in combat. His long, blond hair was swept back from his face and tied in a loose braid. His blue eyes had that piercing intensity which reminded Mitra of his father. His features were more delicate though; Mitra assumed he had inherited this from his mother’s side.”
It’s generally not a good sign when the book cover’s illustrator hasn’t read the book, but whatever; it’s time to move on to the words between the covers. Now, as I perused the pages, I couldn’t help but notice that the plot seemed familiar, too.
Chapter 1: India Authentic Presents Disney’s The Lion King™
Indra is conceived from the stereotypical male fantasy, in which a powerful man sates an exotic mystery woman’s every desire by pumping away like a piston.
This lady of secrets is the Earth–goddess? Apsara? Nymph? The book isn’t that clear, but I guess that Bhūmi, Pṛthvī, and other Indian manifestations of the Earth were too busy to appear in this novel, so we have Gaia as Indra’s mother instead.
He’s a Deva King! You can be one too!
So, while Earth and Sky dream of rain and gardens in the desert sand, Ishtar the pseudo-sort-of Moon Goddess senses that this Child of Prophecy will change the old order and have her overthrown. And instead of, say, cooking up some fruitcake, and resolving to sit down with the kid once he comes of age, and discuss the matter calmly over tea, Ish-Scar immediately begins plotting against the not-yet-born Indra, EVILLY.
Finally, there’s that obligatory scene in which The Child Emerges Into the World and Is Held Aloft While the People Cheer.
Oh, and Daeyus sustains the most entertaining injury in the entire book. It was, “–a pain unlike any he had ever experienced. It was as if somebody had slowly pushed a red hot metal rod into his back.”
So, basically, it was, “–a pain he’d never felt before, kind of like another pain that he’d also never felt before.”
I’m glad we cleared that up.
Chapter 2: The Bravehearted 300 of
Lacedæmon Sparta Aryavarta:
We meet the Elamites, who are as sinister as they are boring, and are planning to attack the Devas because of grievances and things.
Back among the Devas, high priest Susena is pissy and whiny because nobody’s listening to him because prophecy and destiny and ~*zomg INDRA*~. So Ishtar arrives, cleverly disguised as a naked teenaged virgin, and takes advantage of the priest’s anger and hatred to seduce him to the Dark Side of the Force. Then
Ephialtes Gollumodo Susena tries to convince everyone that Indra’s a demon-spawn and should be killed.
Yep, that was Ish-Scar’s divine, powerful,
not really foolproof plan, that an angry priest whom nobody likes will somehow convince the other Devas to kill the king’s baby. As opposed to, say, just using her shapechanging powers to disguise herself as Indra’s nurse, and then smothering the kid when nobody’s looking.
Anyway, this obviously doesn’t go well, and just as Daeyus is about to open a can of WHUT DIDJOU SAY ABOUT MAH BOY on Susena, the fearsome news that THE ELAMITES ARE COMING reaches the camp.
Warriors from both sides squeeze into
Thermopylae The Pass of the Wolves and slaughter each other exuberantly, after Daeyus shouts the name of Scotland Spartaaaaaa Indra, vowing the enemy’s future doom at the Prophecy Child’s hands.
Chapter 3: Hercules, the Geographically Misplaced Adventures:
Susena again tries to get everyone to slaughter Indra. Mitra, who was named regent by Daeyus before he died, reaffirms his support for Indra and betrothes Indra to Vasu’s infant daughter Sachi, now named Indrani, which is not confusing at all.
Since further persuasion doesn’t work, Susena then implements Pitiful Plan Part II. He first seduces/abuses some poor servant girl into doing his bidding, then watches from a hiding-place while this servant gets Indra’s guards drunk with narcotic-laced liquor. She then creeps to the crib with a poisoned needle ready, but wait! Just then, an eagle carrying a cobra drops the cobra onto her, which bites her to death, and then spits venom at Susena to kill him in a thematically appropriate manner.
Snakes never seem to murder the right person.
Maybe they should use venomous mongeese next time.
“From her vantage point high above her magnificent city, Ishtar sighed wistfully; she had played her last hand. Now she resigned herself to the inevitable.”
Hera’s Ish-Scar’s brilliant plans – to use humans for excessively complex assassination attempts to rid herself of the menace that is Hercules Indra – have failed, and now, her fate is inevitable, unavoidable, and cannot be averted with any other possible action in the entire universe. Woe.
Chapter 4: Twilight of the Star Gate: In which we learn why the Devas don’t go to
La Push Beach the Forest of Cedars.
Indra is now a boy of four, who calls regent Mitra “Mitta,” and thus probably can’t pronounce his own name either, poor lad.
Then we get some confusing backstory about vampires. I didn’t mention that there were vampires in this book? Because there are totally vampires. They’re called Pisachas, and their leader Uruk tells Mitra some fairly pointless backstory about how the Pisacha vampiriness came to be:
“There we saw a bright pillar of light appear in the heavens, shining down on the mountaintop. While the others were scared, I was of a curious bent of mind, so I climbed the mountain to investigate.” At the summit, Uruk is touched by one of seven extraordinary beings who live there, and he is given extraordinary powers.
Or, as a much better movie phrased it: “As the frightened villagers ran, night became day. Curious and without fear, he walked towards the light.”
Then others in the tribe jealously plot against Uruk, and so he escapes with some friends and, despite being told never to return, tries to climb the mountain again because they’re all starving, but the seven beings don’t eat so they have no food, so crazed with hunger he and the others kill them and drink their blood and become Pisachas and WHY IS THIS RELEVANT TO ANYTHING.
werewolves Devas make a pact with the vampires Pisachas to settle who gets what territory, and that’s pretty much it.
I assume this will be important to some future chapter, perhaps a future book – this is “Book 1 of the Vedic Trilogy,” by the way – and that’s a huge problem I have with this novel: a lot of it seems to be just setting up dominoes to be knocked down later, instead of telling a story that’s fascinating to read right now.
Chapter 5: In Which Our Heroes Do Gladiator-Like Things, Like in That Movie, Oh, What Was the Title Again…:
Meet the Devas, everyone! There’s Agni, the fiery redhead! Vayu, the blustery cheery guy! Soma, the runty one! Varuna, who’s just kind of there and has no distinguishing characteristic! And *~Indra~* who’s – – the best of them? I guess he’s the best, though he fails pretty outrageously in this chapter alone.
They’re training to compete in a selecting-warriors/coming-of-age thing called the
Spartaaaaa Spardha, and these five Devas are training together because they’re blood-bound, by what I imagine was a really cool oath, that we never get to read about.
The warriors are organised into animal-named “teams,” called dals—
No, not that kind.
–but the five Devas alone decide to form their own dal, the Falcons.
(This is where I’d put an Atlanta Falcons logo, if it weren’t heavily copyrighted. Sigh.)
Anyway, now it’s time for the Big D*mn Competition, and in the end, the underdog Falcons become the darlings of the crowd, and
Maximus the Merciful Indra wins the favour of everyone. But wait, the Gladiator references are not yet complete, for Maxindra has not yet killed a large deadly cat!
Chapter 6: In Which Indra Kills a Large Deadly Cat, and Other Things Happen Too:
Herculindra goes off and kills
the Lion of Nemea the Lion Baldar, and meanwhile, Ayla Mitra has a vision about the tribe’s past and present and how it will influence the tribe’s future. We learn that the Devas are descended from a tribe called the Aie, who were such savage jerkwads that the Devas look like a tribe of philosopher-poets by comparison.
Meanwhile, Indra turns eighteen, which I’m not even sure was the age of adulthood back then because people didn’t, on average, live very long, but anyway. He and his brother-Devas go to a tavern/brothel to celebrate and, when a night watchman named Khara says something mean about Indra’s pappy, Indra throws a rock at his head, which promptly kills him.
Observe this extremely vital excerpt:
“Indra was well-versed with the laws of the tribe; he had killed one of the night guards on duty. The penalty for that was death without a trial. His current standing would have no bearing in this matter; the rule was the same for nobility and commoner alike.”
Pay very. careful. attention. to these inviolable, non-negotiable laws of the Devas.
The five brothers flee into the swamps to escape the extremely 100% certain death awaiting Indra if he’s caught.
Chapter 7: The Lion(Killer) King part II – In Which
Simba Indra Returns From Exile:
Ambitious dickweed Pusan has taken over Aryavarta in Indra’s absence, and life there pretty well sucks now. But take heart, readers, for Indra is so honourable :swoon: that he decides to return to the tribe and face the music. Indra might just stand a chance because a) you can’t subtitle a book “The Ascendance of Indra” if Indra bites the big one before ascending to anything, and b) Indra now has an impartial witness: a man named Atreya from the Lion Dal who, despite his loyalty to his own team, is willing to testify for Indra. I’m not sure why this matters, since “the penalty for that was death without a trial.” Maybe Atreya will be there to compose a tragic song – something heartrending about the terrible loss of a youth in his prime – after Indra is executed for breaking tribal law.
The Devas have to cut through the forest, and there they meet the VAMPIRES and must chop their heads off left and right in order to repel them. The brothers split up and fight their way into different tunnels of a cave, where each Deva dies in a thematically appropriate manner: Agni burns, Vayu asphyxiates, Varuna drowns, and Soma is drained of blood by a Pisacha (okay, mostly appropriate). Indra is the last man standing and comes face to face with Uruk, who gives up his body in a glorious light (huh?) and, in doing so, somehow draws Indra – and the other Devas – into a Golden Realm of Powerful Awesome where they’re healed, revived, and given godly powers.
Chapter 8: Justice:
Indra gets his day of reckoning – WAIT WHAT – thus negating tribal law, the last chapter, and many weeks of wandering, all in one stroke. Of course he is completely acquitted.
His next obstacle is equally predictable: Surprise, surprise, Pusan doesn’t want to give up the throne. So Indra challenges him to a fight to the death, in a horridious single combat called the Dvanda. The two men are tied together with a rope of horsehair and given knives to vivisect each other.
A sudden tempest arises. Indra cuts Pusan to ribbons. Then Vasu, Pusan’s father, starts towards his dead son, slips, and accidentally falls onto Indra’s knife.
Sage Bhrigu shows up to take away Agni, Varuna, and Vayu for a while, because they’re the three boringest Devas, and nobody cares too much what they do at this point.
Chapter 9: “Observe, Lord Burghley, I am married… to Indra.”
Indra is crowned, and now it’s time for poor Sachi to espouse the dude who killed her father and brother.
Meanwhile, Soma makes Soma, with no apparent motivation or impetus to do so.
Indra and Sachi wed, experience a passionate wedding night in which the sensitive Indra feels the pain of her family’s loss that “stabbed at his heart like a knife” because he just loves her SOOO MUCH, though they never interact or forge a relationship in any way but SOOO MUCH Y’ALL.
The next morning she turns on him, and demands that he never touch her again.
Indra sadly hangs the bloody sheepskin outside – seriously? – and leaves her alone henceforth.
Kaikeyī Sachi summons Mitra, and tells him to leave Aryavarta and never come back, thus neatly depriving Indra of his wife’s affection and his father-figure’s support, all in one day’s work.
Honestly, a mortal enemy of Indra’s couldn’t have done better!
Chapter 10: The Craftsman and The
The great craftsman Travistr arrives to pledge his allegiance to Indra.
The Devas conquer and sack Susa, and clearly Indra’s newfound powers and amazing life experiences have all served to expand his mind, preparing him to endure the rigours of military campaign with his innocent spirit untouched:
“What are we, Soma? I must confess I did not feel very god-like when we slaughtered that garrison. High on your brew, all I felt was the surge of energy in my body and a thirst for more blood.”
“Well, perhaps we are demons, after all. What did you do when you felt this way?”
Indra laughed and thumped his friend on the back.
“I lopped off a few more heads and felt a lot better.”
We then discover that Sachi despises Indra only because she was warped by Ishtar – yes! remember Ish-Scar, who “gave up and accepted her fate” back in Chapter 3?
Ishtar appears to Indra, disguised as Sachi, after the sack of Susa.
Apparently one of Ishtar’s many powers is to draw out a man’s prāṇa through sex, and in the latest of her shockingly genius plans, Ishtar is determined to shag Indra TO DEATH.
Nancy Ishtar loses her powers by the intervention of the higher deity Manon Bhairava, and she dies.
Chapter 11: If This Novel Were a Twinkie, This Chapter Would Be the Crème:
This chapter is filler, plain and simple. Filler, filler, and more filler. There are a lot more characters introduced that I don’t care about, and more sacking, and more atrocities, and a lot more death, and people moving about and characters doing things and blah blah blah WHY AM I STILL READING THIS.
Chapter 12: More blah blah blah:
An Asura general also wants Susa and challenges Indra to a fight to the death for it. Indra dissects him. Wow, I totally did not see that coming.
Then the Devas capture a caravan, including a fierce Harappan warrior lady named Valli. Valli is sanctified to the great Mother goddess of Harappa, but throws all of that out of the window because ~*zomg INDRA*~, and they begin what may be the only actual relationship in this book.
I’ve read this section once already, except the characters were named “Sinuhe” (an Egyptian physician) and “Minea” (a young maiden, bull-dancer sanctified to the god of Crete), and the book was a good historical fiction novel named The Egyptian.
Both ladies die, but the difference lies in the impact. Minea perishes in a truly tragic manner; her death not only rips the reader’s heart out, it fundamentally changes Sinuhe, warping his open heart into a deep pessimism that stays with him lifelong.
Valli, on the other hand, takes an arrow for Indra, croaks, and is forgotten, all in about twenty pages.
You guys, I can’t even. Just reviewing this book is angering and depressing me in rapid-fire alternation, so I’ll briefly summarise the last three chapters:
The Devas cross a desert, go to Harappa, and slaughter a whole bunch of tribespeople in myriad creative ways.
For example, replace “sandwich” in this photograph with “honey-covered human.”
Indra basically becomes Anakin Skywalker, only less cultured and animated, with mind-numbing lines like:
“Look at them! With all that jewellery, it’s impossible to tell the men from the women. Pompous little peacocks. I wonder if they’d maintain those stoic faces with my sword up their arse.”
It’s sort-of-maybe-kinda hinted that he’s starting to lose it from over-Somafication at that point? But whether he’s poisoned by elixir or just a plain dipsh*t, Indra starts choking his friends, threatening people with tongue-out-ripping if they don’t obey him, letting non-Devas drink Soma which they’re not supposed to do, sanctioning pillage and plunder, and ordering his men to gang-rape a high priestess:
“Amuse yourself, my boys. Perhaps the mother goddess will come to beg for her beloved daughter’s honour.”
(This especially shocks me in light of one of the dedications at the beginning of the book:
My son Vir, for asking the right questions; I hope someday he’ll read this and agree that Indra is ‘cooler’ than Hercules.
Um….no. I’m guessing that no, no, he won’t. In my mind right now, the score is Herc at 8,000,000,000 and Indra at -4,000.)
Then Indra gets seduced by a demon, falls into a coma, is healed, wakes up, and continues being a jerkface.
Following more cranial-rectal inversion from Indra, Sage Dadhichi still gives up his bones for the dorkwad, and Indra kills Vritra with the new-formed Vajra weapon. Mind you, this central story of Ṛgveda, the single most important event to happen in ancient religion, ever, occupies TWO ENTIRE PAGES, or 0.5%, of the book.
Finally, the Saptarishis – the “seven extraordinary beings” that made the vampires before, I guess – reveal that they need breeding stock to restore/unite the tribes of Aditi (I think? I don’t know, I’m so apathetic by now that the only way I could care less would be to stop breathing), and that’s where the Devas come in because they have the right blood to do it and then Manu reveals the most WTF-iest plan in the world on page 369: “I will invite the Devas to rule us not as men, but as gods. Gods, whose benevolence people will crave and whose wrath they will fear. We will be their priests, the conduit between them and the people. It is our laws that we will implement, but in their name.”
Uh…why? What? That makes no sense…wait…huh??
WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED IN THIS ENTIRE BOOK?!
However, I no longer have to care anymore because IT’S OVER!!!
This book frustrated me to no end, good grief.
The pacing is really choppy, because most of the interesting stories are glossed over to make room for lengthier descriptions of pointless actions. Check out this rapt description:
“One of the attendants came forward with a copper bowl filled with a strange powder. Another attendant put a glowing ember into it. The powder began to crackle as it caught fire and thick smoke started to rise from the vessel. The attendant held the bowl under Braega’s nose, and the high priest inhaled deeply.”
It’s not the most masterful description in the entire realm of English literature, but it certainly evokes the actions correctly, setting a simple scene of kindling and using incense. Surely more important events will be described even more rhapsodically as they happen…right?
“Daeyus was transfixed as he watched his lover being gently lifted through the beam of light into the cloud.”
“The Sabha was convened, and after the ceremonial dip in the river, Mitra draped around him the scarlet robe of kingship. The members of the Sabha raised their voices in unison and saluted their new raja.”
“He placed his forehead against the man’s and plunged the dagger he held in his other hand into the heart of the dying warrior. He then laid the body gently back on the bed and walked away.”
Oh. I guess not.
Indra “ascends,” per the title, to the throne. Sachi turns against him, degenerating from a loving wife to a heinous antagonist. Dadhichi gives up his bones for the Devas. Indra slaughters Vritra. All of these events are described in less than a full page, and events which would naturally pique the interest – a blood-oath binding the five main Devas together, really? – are omitted completely.
But we can be consoled by that gripping incense scene.
Perhaps the single most important aspect of a novel is FOCUS. You’re telling a story, and the eyes through which that story is seen are important. Jump around too much, and the reader has no idea what the hell is going on.
The author tries for third-person omniscient perspective in this novel. But the focus switches so many times, from the eyes of this character to the viewpoint of that character – even including the animals’ “thoughts” on occasion – that it’s rather like listening to someone narrate a never-ending dream they once had, or hearing a DM recap a torturously long game of D&D. In fact, there are so many different points of view that this reads like an outline for a story (“–and then this happens, and then this, and she sees this and he sees that, then they do this, and then this happens–“) instead of a fully-fleshed tale.
This book either needed a lot less stuff happening, or else it needed these events expanded and stretched out over a few books. You can’t compress a metric ton of people and events into 380 pages, and expect us to relate to anybody by the time the whole mess is over.
A character has to reveal himself through his words, not merely align himself with either the Heroes or the Meanieheads. But the problem is that, in a book supposedly about Indra’s ascension to rule, we learn almost nothing about Indra himself. He does typical kid things. He trains. He fights. He does more fighting. Then he does some killing. Then there’s killing and more killing and sexing and more killing and strutting and grandstanding and killing.
So I really have no idea about Indra the man, because I only see the things he does; I don’t know how he feels or what he thinks. He grows from a stereotypical innocent child, to a stereotypical determined adolescent, to a sociopathic as$hat adult, and I don’t actually care about his supposed “fall” because I never knew him in the first place.
When you’re telling a story that everybody knows, you have to make the characters darned compelling to distance the readers from their foreknowledge. I cannot believe I’m about to use this as an example, but take that Titanic movie that you might have heard a bit about. The biggest joke for weeks was the “ending spoiler” that the ship sinks. But that wasn’t the point. The film created some believable characters, put them in some rough personal situations, and encouraged you to forget yourself and begin identifying and sympathising with them. By the time the iceberg impacted, you were as shocked as they were.
This “prophecy” thing doesn’t matter to us modern readers, because we already know that Indra is King of the Devas. What we need is for Indra and his blood-sworn brethren to really grip us with their phenomenal strengths, terrible weaknesses, and unique adventures. They endure a lot of trials together, events that would have been great opportunities to show us a little more about them.
For example, they’re not born immortal or divinely potent; they gain these gifts after near-death experiences, and decide to conceal them from the other Devas. This is an interesting idea and could have led to some really wrenching scenes, moments where each man tries to grapple with the knowledge that he is no longer completely human, while trying to exist amidst “mere mortals” as if nothing has happened. But no. The five Devas laugh it off with typical machismo and just make guy jibes at each other while discreetly slinging their new powers around. There’s no soul-searching, no heart-rending, not even the child-like excitement and pleasure with which a normal person might greet a superhuman gift. Just bravado and bullying and boredom.
The most glaring problem with this book is that it needed much stronger editing. Someone needed to go through it with a stern eye – :gestures above to the entire rest of this post: LIKE THAT – and not only add the scores of missing commas, and correct obvious errors like spelling “pendant” with two “e”s and using “you’ll” to mean “you all” when it actually means “you will,” but fix the parts where the language reads like a discordant chord struck mid-symphony.
The modern idiom needs to be excluded completely. Too much for him to take, a great place to beat the heat, cat that had just got the cream, gave it everything to finish on top, done my time, the Deva think-tank, wet himself in fright, call it a night, settle this the old-fashioned way, and the rousing shouts of “YEAH!” before battle – the author tries for some measure of formality by removing the contractions from the Devas’ speech, but the godlings still end up talking like slimy sales clerks in places, and it’s partly because of these modern expressions, which pull me out of the story and its ancient setting completely.
One sentence in particular is exemplary: “There was pin-drop silence in the hall as everyone looked around to see if any of the rumourmongers would rise up now to bell the cat.” I had to read that twice to understand what he was saying.
Also needing the chop are expressions which don’t make sense, but were included because they sound cool. At least twice, characters chant words in a “long-forgotten language,” suggesting that such tongues are not long-forgotten at all.
Finally, the modern historical perspective is another inclusion that wrecks the story by making it sound like a dry history book:
“The Devas were connoisseurs of cattle; it was the main unit of currency and the only true measure of a man’s wealth and power in their society.”
“–had brought him news that more and more tribes were leaving their northern lands near the Caucasus Mountains and moving into central Asia.”
“The oasis of Ashkavan was a refuge for a veritable rogues’ gallery of the ancient world.”
I do see some good things in it, some ideas with potential. I appreciate that the author apparently did careful research, because all of the species, materials, foods, etc. mentioned are appropriate for both the time and locations, and there are a lot of pieces from other cultures included. There’s a hint that it’s going to get better in the coming books, but I honestly can’t decide whether I want to stick with the series to find out. This Indra so little resembles my Indra.
This book frustrates me mainly because it could have been good. Reading it was like watching a rat in a maze who makes wrong turns at every junction and keeps slamming his nose into walls. I really wanted to love it – it’s a written work about Indra, for crying out loud, and Lord knows there are few enough voices in that department – but it’s hard to enjoy a novel whose underlying premise is that Indra and the other Vedic Devatās are human brutes, who will eventually become actual gods, and be civilised by real religion and genuine ethics somewhere down the line. Certainly my journey as devotee might have been more difficult if this had been my first introduction to Indra!
Anyway, I already have a small waiting list of folks interested in borrowing this book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Total death count: (This is the “countable” dead, and excludes all instances in which numbers are described as “scores,” “many,” etc.)
14,942 people, 33 vampires, 143 cows, 304 horses, 2 elephants, 2 quail, 7 deer, one lion, and one large serpent-dragon-beast.
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