Goodreads blurb: The inhabitants of the thousand hells of Yama have broken free from their prison and vowed to wreak havoc on the heavens, the earth and hell. With the fiendish Hatakas and Narakamayas teamed up with Naganara, a terrifying necromancer hungry for power, the universe is headed for war and destruction unless one human has something to do with it.
Agni Prakash, a debonair young man whose world has been turned upside down by the death of his twin sister, Varu, has been enlisted to stop these forces and be Yama s very own lieutenant. As the mythical world clashes with his own, Agni discovers a manuscript left behind by his sister. Hauntingly, it draws parallels to the treacherous path upon which he has been thrust. Equipped with an acerbic wit and winning charm, Agni undertakes a battle, where the odds seem tipped wildly against him, and finds unlikely companions along the way.
Will he be able to uncover the secret behind his sister’s writings? And more importantly, will he be able to avert the destruction that seems imminent?
Most regular readers of my blog would know that I am a huge fan of mythology and Anuja Chandramouli remains one of my favorite authors in this particular genre. You can read my reviews of her books Kamadeva: The God of Desire here [Link to review] and Shakti: The Divine Feminine [Link to review] to know how much I like her style of writing and way of interpreting mythological tales with a modern and contemporary point of view. It therefore was a no-brainer that I would then pick up her latest mytho-fiction book Yama’s Lieutenant and read and review the same on this blog.
This book marks a distinct departure from the other books she has penned in terms of the genre itself. While all her earlier books were her take on tales from Indian mythology and their characters, this one falls squarely in the fiction genre, or the mytho-fiction genre as I’d like to call it, given that it straddles mythological themes with good old fashioned fantasy fiction. As the blurb states Agni Prakash is the only person who can prevent the imminent destruction of the world as we know it today. An unwitting recruit to be ‘Yama’s lieutenant’, Agni was looking for a way where he could productively channelize his anger against evil and thus overcome the tragic loss of his twin sister Varu, and this mission of his proves to be just what the doctor ordered for his anger management issues.
What starts off as a personal crusade for Agni soon ends up being a relatively more critical mission on the basis of which the fate of the entire world would rest upon. Whether Agni is able to deliver on the mission, does he manage to prevent large scale destruction, will he be able to hold the forces of evil at bay form the crux of the narrative.
What I really liked about the book was the fact that the character of Agni was fleshed out very well. His back story, his motivations, the justification for his anger and subsequent actions, all of these have been highlighted very well by the author in the course of his adventures. Why he does what he does, and how he does them, are quite well justified with nary a loose end in this aspect.
Another part of the narrative I quite liked was the use of a parallel manuscript penned by Agni’s twin Varu to keep the action moving forward. While I did find it somewhat irritating at times, the main reason behind its use comes to the fore only during the last few pages of the book. In fact its usage to delivery the final twist in the tale is something that I didn’t quite see coming despite the large red herring right at the beginning of the story.
What however was a little bit of a dampener for me was the excessive usage of promiscuity in some parts of the book. Some unnecessary references to bodily parts and their daily functions could easily have been avoided by the author and they don’t add anything either to the narrative or to character development. The book would have been no less nice for their exclusion. Apart from this minor irritant, the book itself was quite lively and a relatively fast read as well.
A review copy of this book was given to me by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.