Pradyumna – Son of Krishna – Usha Narayanan – Book Review


PradyumnaGoodreads blurb: ‘I see a dark future that makes me quake,’ Devarishi Narada said. ‘One of these newborns will ravage the world and erase the name of Krishna from the face of the earth.

As the world trembles on the threshold of Kali Yuga—4,32,000 years of unprecedented evil—it waits for a savior to rise.

Meanwhile, in the dark netherland of the asuras, the meek Vama shudders as he learns that he is actually Pradyumna, the son of Krishna. And that his journey has just begun.

From the asura kingdom to Dwaraka and then Kurukshetra, destiny forces him to battle monsters, angry gods and blazing weapons, and overpower his own weaknesses. Will he be able to rise to the challenge in time to save the world? Or is he the destroyer prophesied by Narada?

Pradyumna is the gripping saga of the rise of this mighty, swashbuckling hero whom all of humanity awaits.

———————–

Given my interest in mythology and its various retellings it must not come as a surprise to regular readers of my blog that I picked up this book and ended up reading and reviewing it. And true to its pre and post release hype around Pradyumna – Son of Krishna by Usha Narayanan, the book is quite well plotted and narrated. Relying mostly on relatively authentic sources from the original Sanskrit texts, this book, the first in a series narrates the events around the birth of Pradyumna, his separation from his parents, his subsequent reunion with them after fulfilling a part of the prophecy surrounding his birth and the events that occur thereafter.

What I liked the most about this book was the fact that the author does not take too much liberty from the original Sanskrit texts from where the core material has been sourced. Yes, while a few liberties might have been taken in terms of the sequencing of events and ‘shading’ the characters in various hues of ‘grey’, it is quite clear that by and large the book stays close to its original mythological roots.

While the first half of the book deals with the story behind Kama’s incarnation as Pradyumna, his birth as a mortal on earth, his separation from his parents Krishna and Rukmini, his teenage years as Vama and his subsequent fulfillment of a prophecy, the second half takes a more serious turn and focuses more on Pradyumna’s heroic exploits on the battlefield fighting away various enemies, battling monsters, and helping out people in distress.

Never too far away from his bete noire, Pradyumna’s brother, Samba, Krishna’s son from Jambavati follows his brother’s exploits closely, all the while seething in anger and looking for some way or the other not only to outdo him but even kill him. Samba’s character is like an overpowering presence on almost the entire proceedings of the second half of the book and readers cannot help but wonder how and what he will do next. In fact I will stick my neck out and make a prediction that Samba will have a more prominent and decisive role to play in the proceedings of the second book in this series.

The only grouse I had with the book were the last few chapters where Pradyumna decides not to participate in the greatest battle of his era, the Kurukshetra war and instead goes on to battle Vajranabha. While this may very well be how things unfolded in the original Sanskrit texts, this last portion of the book felt a little contrived to me and would probably have been better off as the beginning of Book Two of the series. But then, I am guessing the author knew perfectly well what she was doing and chose to slot this episode at the end of Book One.

This grouse aside I will surely pick up the second book in the series, if not for anything else, to enjoy the saga of this wonderful but overlooked character from Indian mythology and the sheer easygoing way in which the author has narrated his story to us.

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