REVIEW The Simoqin Prophecies: Samit Basu



INDIAN FANTASY COMES OF AGE

Indian literature is rich in myths and folklore, but Indian fantasy fiction is sadly underdeveloped. So I was really happy to read this book, which incorporates Indian mythology to create a world that you are absorbed into.

It is the year of the Simoqin Prophecies, when the rakshas (demon) Danh-Gem I supposed to come back from the dead and restart the age of terror. The Chief Civilian of the prosperous city-state of Kol finds a Hero Asvin, and takes him to be trained by Gaam, the best mentor of Hero School, and Mantric, a spellbinder. Accompanying Asvin in his Quest are Maya, Mantric’s daughter and her friend Kirin. But the followers of Danh-Gem are rallying to bring him back, and Kirin follows his own path to rid the world of Danh-Gem.

In a hole in the ground there lived a rabbit. What is a rabbit? A rabbit (Bunihopus bobtelus) is a small white mammal that loves good food and is anxious when it is late for appointments. This particular rabbit was off on an expedition to the forest. He planned to wander around for a few years and then return home and write a book. There and Back Again: The Adventures of One Rabbit, he planned to call it. He popped out of his burrow and looked around, sniffing the air delicately.


He saw a man with a sword standing next to a tree, looking up. ‘Afternoon. Set out. Description of Forest. Many trees, leaves, green. Tension in air, palpable. Man, one, standing next to tree, looking up,’ the rabbit noted in his mental journal. Attention to detail is the key in holding a reader’s attention, he thought smugly. 

Sounds familiar? This brilliant opening to the book is just a trailer to what follows. Basu derives from various sources to build this colorful world which will have you in splits from Page 1. From the Ramayana and Mahabharata to Greek epics, from James Bond to comic book heroes, from Lord of the Rings to Arabian Nights, you will find traces of all these and more. Add to this a complex plot which ridicules as much of classic fantasy and science fiction as it incorporates, this book is the best debut one can write. Basu’s style of writing is witty and engaging, as he peoples his world with rakshasas, danavs and asurs (all types of demons), vanars (apes), spellbinders, ravians (powerful magical beings) and of course, humans. Though there are a lot of references to Indian mythology, readers not familiar with it need not worry, as they have many things to laugh over. Indian English writing never had it so good. I recommend this book to everybody who wants a good laugh with a great story. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite passages, because there are so many, but I’ll leave you with another.

The Guild of Superb Heroes was a group of people from all over the world, who had gathered in Kol to unite against the forces of Danh-Gem. Dressed in outlandish costumes, they would tell tall tales of their own exploits, and proudly proclaim that Kol was safe even if the Hero of Simoqin never turned up. Led by the Man of Reinforced Iron, a former champion of the WAK, and his brother, a trapeze artist named The Skimmer, they gave the people of Kol occasional hope and frequent mirth. Children ran home and told their parents about the mighty Thog the Barbarian, and a sumo wrestler from east Xi’en who painted himself purple and called himself The Unbelievable Bulk.


Who could feel fear in a city under the ceaseless vigilance of Supper-Man, who could eat anything, the scythe-wielding Jak the Reaper and the rubber-jointed and sweet-smelling Minty Python?  

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5 Responses
  1. bermudaonion Says:

    Oh, I bet my son would love this book! Thanks for your review!


  2. Nymeth Says:

    Thank you so much for bringing this book to my attention! I love Indian traditional stories (the little I know of them, at least) and the idea of a fantasy that incorporates them is very exciting.


  3. Old Kitty Says:

    Hi

    Just wanting to add my thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

    I was immediately drawn by the extract you posted and have put this book on my list to get after payday!

    Take care
    x


  4. Aarti Says:

    I'm so thrilled you brought this book to my attention! I LOVE the idea of fantasy set in India and this is straight to my wish list. Thanks so much!


  5. this looks good - thanks for your review :)


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