Magic

The Rise of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

The Rise of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju (Hastinapur, #2)

Review by Shwetha H S

Following the events that occurred by the death of Vichitraveerya in the Book #1 of Hastinapur series, The Winds of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju, The Rise of Hastinapur starts with Amba who becomes a priestess, then takes you to Pritha, the princess of Kunti, and at last Gandhari, the princess of Gandhar. Devavrata is now renowned as Bhishma, and Satyavati is not mentioned much in here, but Ganga is still there. And you get to meet Shakuni, the prince of Gandhar and younger brother of Gandhari. Hastinapur has grown to be a juggernaut and so does the number of people scheming for the downfall of Hastinapur and Bhishma.

This book, more than the first one, leaves you wondering if Bhishma was truly a visionary or just a happy-go-lucky chap for the time being. More than men, he has women scheming against him and he has no idea like ever. The celestials are present as usual and they play their role whenever necessary. There are lust-filled, power- hungry people everywhere who may or may not be truly brave. As the story continues, it is easier now to see these characters from Mahabharata to be more realistic than magical as they are told to be. Of course, magic is there due to the Celestials, but this retelling doesn’t have magic for everything; like magic to bring shoot arrows and burn people.

As the story moves forward, there are more and more characters brought in. I am sure there are more to come. Why? Because this is Mahabharata! There are numerous characters meant to be in it. But for now, the royal ladies are paving the path to where they go and lay the foundation to one of the epics that mankind has ever witnessed (ahem, read). So, brace yourselves people. Sharath Komarraju is here to stay narrating his version of Mahabharata.

Interview with Lindsay Edmunds

Lindsay Edmunds is the author of New Sun Rising: Ten Stories. This weekend, we bring you an interview with her.

We Read That Too: We know that you are an author. As what kind of an author would you introduce yourself?

Lindsay Edmunds: Late at night a few months ago in a state of exhaustion, it dawned on me what kind of stories I write: magical realism for the internet age. Ghosts coexist with e-beasts, mobiles with magic.

I’ve always been interested in the relationships people have with machines and have always liked fairy tales and fantasy. Magical realism for the internet age is the logical result of those interests.

WRTT: What do you do apart from writing?

LE: I work as a freelance editor in the areas of ecology, managed care, and pharmacy. My home is a semirural part of southwestern Pennsylvania, about 12 miles south of Pittsburgh.

WRTT: What genres of books do you read?

LE: I like biographies, speculative fiction, and traditional fairy tales/folk tales. However,  a book I reread almost every year, Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban, has none of those elements. Best to just describe me as a book omnivore.

WRTT: Given a chance, how would you describe New Sun Rising: Ten Stories in just one sentence?

LE: It tells the story of Kedzie Greer, a girl who looks beyond the walls of her perfect community in search for more.

WRTT: What prompted you to write this story?

LE: It began with a dreamlike image: angels bending over the bed of girl who was balancing between life and death. They told her to live.

This image makes a brief appearance in the story “Fallow Time”

“Kedzie remembered tall, blue-robed angels mouthing words she could not understand. It had to have been in the hospital. Before the hospital was a blank.”

WRTT: What inspired you to write a dystopian fiction?

LE: In New Sun Rising, I first created a utopian community, Stillwater. It was logical, in terms of storytelling, to show the world outside Stillwater’s walls as dystopian. That is how the young heroine, Kedzie Greer, would see it because she was raised in a kindly and beautiful place.

WRTT: With which other dystopian fiction would you like to compare New Sun Rising: Ten Stories?

LE: Rather than answer that question directly, I will talk about influences on my work. Every story in New Sun Rising begins with a quotation from eitherDandelion Wine or Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, a writer whose work I have enjoyed since a teenager.

Shirley Jackson, author of “The Lottery,” wrote a little-known 1950s apocalyptic novel called The Sundial with definite dystopian elements.

I also like the great post-apocalypse/dystopian novel Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.

I admire all these authors, but would never compare myself to them. They are heroes to me.

WRTT: Apart from New Sun Rising: Ten Stories, name any one dystopian fiction which you would suggest your readers?

LE: I really liked Susan Kaye Quinn’s YA novel The Legacy Human. She just published a sequel, The Duality Bridge, which is high up on my to-be-read list. http://www.susankayequinn.com/

WRTT: Are there any other works of yours in the pipeline?

LE: Yes, two!

First one: USA Today best-selling urban fantasy author Anthea Sharp just greenlighted my story “The Skeptic” for inclusion in the Chronicle Worlds: Feyland anthology. Chronicle Worlds is a sibling series to The Future Chronicles,a best-selling science fiction/spec fiction anthology series. This is the premise of Anthea Sharp’s Feyland: “What if a high-tech computer game was actually a gateway to the Realm of Faerie?”

Second one: A novella set in the early years of the 23rd century about a husband and wife, both expert programmers, who have devoted their entire lives to making Networld a better, richer experience for people. They believe that advances in artificial intelligence and robotics offer the hope of immortality. Now that the wife is dying prematurely, they look back on their 25-year marriage.

Its name is The Paradise Fix.

WRTT: Anything else that you would like your readers to know?

LE: I love watching bad movies with good friends. The more terrible the movie, the more fun we have. I suppose that’s a dystoptian/utopian thing: the bad movie is the dystopia; friendship and laughter are the gold.

WRTT: Thank you, Lindsay. With your suggestions, our list of to-read books has grown and we look forward to add your next book to the same list.

Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess by Ilika Ranjan

Review by Shwetha H S

This book is a refreshing break from other books that deal with complicated and materialistic adult life. Ilika Ranjan has shown that Indian authors too can take on writing fiction for children by simply swirling their own magic wands called pen. The colourful and well-illustrated cover and a character introduction card with a lined up pictures of all the main characters on it and the best part is it can be used as a bookmark too.

Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess is the first book in the Zynpagua series. As the name says, this book marks the return of the princess to Zynpagua along with her brother and uncle to save her family and people from the clutches of an evil scientist. This book tries to combine magic and science. And the best part is, the author has not tried to make the story unfold in some foreign country, but has based it in India and in a mystical land of Zynpagua.

Since this book is meant for children and young adults, author has written in a way that even children can understand. For example, she has written as “stretch pants” instead of thermal wear. But she also uses words like topography that very small children cannot understand unless explained what it means. In the acknowledgement, the author has mentioned that so and so person has illustrated and painted the sketches of the characters given in the book, but all the sketches in the book are in grayscale, and this disappoints a reader. The author also brings in the concept of soul mates in this book which is inappropriate in the book meant for children too. Had it been only for young adults, then this would have been accepted, but the idea of soul mates is hard to accept and puts in adult emotions and thoughts into young minds.

Flow of the story is really good as every event in it is well connected and is not purposeless. There is a reason behind whatever happens in the story and helps in taking the story further. No senselessly dragging just to make it a long story. This book is a commendable effort by the author, Ilika Ranjan, for catering to the young readers of India. Don’t forget to buy this book for your children. If you buy it, then be prepared to explain few concepts to your children if they are too young to understand them.