9 June 2024 | By: Writing Buddha

Ravan's Trial- The Naraka Cycle : Book 1 by Sundar Nathan (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!

2097th BLOG POST

4th Book of 2024


Well, I have finally read my first proper fiction this year and as my interest goes, I always pick either a romantic/character-based story or a mythological fiction. This time, I chose the latter considering that it has been long since I have picked this genre. On this weekend, I completed reading “Ravan’s Trial” written by Sundar Nathan in around 200-odd pages. This is Book 1 of the trilogy named “The Naraka Cycle”. I am glad the way author has kept this book a short-read which helps you go through the book in 2-3 sittings itself.


The book talks about its protagonist, Ravan, in detail. All of us know Ravan mainly from his old age when he appears for the 1st time in Ramayan during Sita-abduction scene. Author tries to help us understand Ravan’s teenage year through this story. It helps us learn the becoming of Ravan into one of the biggest negative characters in our Hindu mythology. The book describes about his trial of 7 days in Aranya jungle which is supposedly believed to be tough for anyone to go through. Author prominently describes each day with separate headers to make us understand the curve of his experience with every passing day.


To the reader’s surprise, more than physical challenge, this turns out to be a mental game for Ravan. He goes through multiple emotional breakdowns. Ravan has to go through this pain which starts preparing him into a strong character. It is great to read this section of the story as it tells us about Ravan’s vulnerabilities through the emotional challenges that he goes through. Even after he returns back from the trial to his kingdom, the new-found facts about his family doesn’t let him be a steady person. His arc of character keeps on shifting its base with every chapter.


Along with Ravan, author has also given a good space to his siblings, Surpanakha and Kumbhkaran. The sibling love and care for each other is beautifully portrayed and reading these scenes makes you feel fresh as it gives a completely new perspective about Ravan’s life. The book also takes a spiritual tone as it’s not only about the revelation of past and truth but also about Ravan’s self-discovery and realization of many facts which were always around him.


I liked the Sanskrit shlokas that kept coming in between the story along with their translation. The geographical map of the contemporary time with the story helps you understand the travel of the characters based on the timeline. All the negative communities that we heard are brought together in some manner in this book such as Nagas, Asuras, Rakshasa, Kinaras etc. Their relationship among themselves makes the story development more exciting and mysterious.


The climax has an open ending to take us ahead with the Book 2 of the trilogy later on. The segment where it ends is nicely executed by the author as it keeps the excitement up for the next part. Author’s writing style is easy to read as he is able to blend philosophy, religion, history, geography, mystery, thriller etc. with the story seamlessly.


You won’t get overwhelmed with the kind of imaginative set-up the story has. It’s just that the initial part of the story is tough to comprehend due to its slow-pace narration. It becomes boring at several times. Similarly, I feel author should write in a bit more modern conversational tone to make it an easy read for the readers. Overall, the book is a fine read and I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.






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