Goodreads blurb: In the evil labyrinths of Dandakaranya forest, human values are put to test. Rama’s righteousness, Lakshmana’s loyalty and Sita’s endurance reflect our own sense of values and judgment in difficult times. The story unfolds the facets of human life – the conflict and the trickery, the praise and the slander and, above all, the hope and the despair in the eventful forest life of the Exiled Royals.
Stolen Hope is about extreme deception and extreme love. It is about arrogant power and deep devotion. With every twist and turn, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana find themselves robbed of whatever and whoever they value most.
Exploring the dynamics of human relations – between father and son, husband and wife, teacher and disciple – and the complex game of power and greed, Stolen Hope mirrors our own dilemmas in the modern world and teaches us how we must overcome them.
Seek courage when everything, including hope, is stolen.
This book picks up from when the trio of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita begin settling down in the Dandakaranya forest. The author narrates the story of how this forest got around to being named so and the events that led to their presence there. As was the case with the earlier two books, this one also takes small detours into stories of related characters as well as some of the places that the trio visit on their journeys during their exile, and the best part about these stories is that they only end up adding that much more meat and heft to the timeless epic that the Ramayana is.
All the earlier versions of this epic I had read were abridged versions and more or less stuck to the main story, ie, the narrative arc of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, and that probably is the reason that I am thoroughly enjoying this particular retelling so much more. Each and every one of the smaller ‘side’ stories which form part of this retelling are making my overall experience of reading the entire series more than quite a bit. And coupled with my recent penchant and interest in Indian mythology I have to admit that I haven’t quite enjoyed a series of books as much as I am loving the entire The Game of Life series by Shubha Vilas.
In this book readers get a glimpse into Rama’s prowess with weapons and his smarts as a single warrior against thousands of rakshasas from Dushana and Khara’s army. And the entire episode of Sita being kidnapped by Ravana due to the chain of events set in motion by Surpanakha are also explained in great detail. We also get to see the rare occasion where Rama loses his composure and Lakshmana has to step in to cool him down and get his elder brother’s distressed mind working logically and objectively again. This episode proves to be quite pivotal in determining the true inner strength of Lakshmana and him taking center stage for a brief period of time.
In a nutshell, a worthy continuation of what promises to be an engaging series of books by Shubha Vilas.
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A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author in return for an unbiased and honest review of the same.