The Guardians of the Halahala – Shatrujeet Nath – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.

But was the Halahala truly destroyed? A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.

As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to Samrat Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!

A sweeping tale of honor and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend.


Very few authors have the ability to take mythological stories, characters and situations, imbibe them into plot narratives and make their plots convincing and interesting enough. And man, has Shatrujeet Nath succeeded in doing that with the first book in The Vikramaditya Trilogy, The Guardians of Halahala or what!!!

Regular readers of my blog will know my affinity and liking for Indian mythology, the epics and the numerous stories that this genre has to offer. In fact, on more than one occasion I have used this blog to write about Indian mythology and stories from the same. While I don’t consider myself an expert or anything even remotely close in this genre, the truth is that I have read more in this genre than the average reader has and therefore my exposure to the same is just that little more. And trust me when I say this, starting from the very premise that some of the Halahala escaped being swallowed by Shiva and linking it up to the famed ‘navaratnas’ in Vikramaditya’s court in Ujjayini, the author simply impressed me from the first page of this book itself.

How he has managed to re-imagine the concept of the nine councilors and their loyalty to the king, how he manages to imbibe elements of the debauchery and arrogance of Indra, how the guile of Shukracharya proves to be invaluable to the cause of the asuras at the end; all of these and more make up the first book of what promises to be a wonderful trilogy. I know I am lavishing quite a bit of praise and that too unconditionally, but trust me, this book deserves it and more.

As if the threats from the devas and the asuras trying to recover the Halahala for themselves wasn’t enough, the Hunas and Sakas hover dangerously close to the northwestern borders and the eastern borders are in war with the Magadhan princes taking a dangerously violent stance. Handling the action simultaneously happening in almost all parts of Sindhuvarta, the author keeps readers on their toes waiting to read about what happens next in almost all the pieces. And the fact that all the action in the book doesn’t come at the cost of character development means that the author is fully aware of his craft and knows how to successfully balance the narrative and character development by keeping both of them in good check throughout the book.

Here and there, the author also leaves behind some small hints of what is to come in terms of character development. For example, there is a brief mention about how the nine guardians themselves aren’t quite fully aware of the extent of their powers, and also, how and why the first book ends the way it does is also something that the author probably has left for the second book to explain. This suspense works well in terms of the fact that all readers of this book will be left thirsting for the second book in the series and will surely wait for it with bated breath. I will, for sure.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was offered to as part of the Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve, probably India’s largest repository of book reviews written by Indian authors. However, the views above are completely my own and unbiased in any form or fashion.

Lost In Pattaya – Kishore Modak – Book Review

LostInPattayaGoodreads blurb: It is every dad’s nightmare – his little girl goes missing.

For Palash, the sorrow compounds from the incessant replaying of the critical minutes when his ‘Daddy-eye’ faltered, distracted by his own weakness, substance abuse. The loss and the ensuing search sends him spiraling into a divorce and the loss of a steady corporate job. Scouring for his little girl in the brothels of Pattaya he is ensnared in the web of mafia that runs the sex trade of Thailand. When he eventually finds her, will he be able to build back a wasted lifetime, or, is it too late for rescue, for him and his child?


An extremely unconventional book to say the least, I mean any book which waits for 184 pages before someone addresses the protagonist by his name, Palash Mitra, can only be called that, right.

When Li Ya, Palash’s young daughter goes missing on a family holiday in Pattaya, when he was distracted purchasing drugs from a pusher, that begins an unending spiral of uncontrolled and unmitigated disaster with his fragile marriage breaking apart and him losing his job due to his refusal to play ‘ball’ and overlook some spurious practices. As if this wasn’t enough, his substance abuse problem leads him further and further down on the path to self-destruction and pretty soon he finds himself with no purpose in life.

He then takes it upon himself to hunt down his daughter in the brothels of Pattaya where he last saw her and this ends up being serendipitous in terms of the fact that it helps him uncover the truth about her disappearance in a completely unforeseen manner. Assisted by the mysterious Thuy Binh and her confidante Miho, Palash’s life then takes a completely different turn and he starts afresh.

However, one moment when he lets his guard down brings down this particular house of cards also tumbling down all around him. Whether he manages to get his life back together again, whether he manages to meet his daughter Li Ya again forms the crux of the rest of the narrative.

This book is very unconventional in the sense that the first third of the book almost entirely deals with the protagonist talking to himself in his mind. By playing on the substance abuse issue that Palash is grappling with, the author uses this to provide readers with an entirely different point of view of the events unfolding in the narrative. Far from being angry with Palash, I wouldn’t be surprised if most readers ended up sympathizing with his plight in this portion, more so by the end of the book when a whole lot of other things unravel themselves.

And I have to admit that the first third makes for some tough reading at times when I felt frustrated with what Palash was doing (or rather not doing right). In hindsight, I realize that this feeling contributed more than quite a bit to me rooting for him in the last third of the book. While the ending is a little contrived and seems inspired by Hollywood, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an enjoyable book.

An unconventional storyline which is as much of the protagonist losing himself in Pattaya as much as it is about him losing his daughter there, this book managed to strike the right chords with me with its gritty, unflinching portrayal of the sex trade and the plight of prostitutes in Thailand. It also manages to provide a small insight into what substance abuse addicts face when they are high, or when their high wears off as well. This to me, was a personal first, to read a book which managed to help me visualize addiction in an entirely new light.

A worthwhile read which can be purchased online at Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

Baramulla Bomber – Clark Prasad – Book Review


Book: Baramulla Bomber

Author: Clark Prasad

Book Blurb:

An Ancient Weapon from the Vedas & Bible

Once Hunted by the Nazis

Powered by the Sound of the Universe

Reborn with the Help of Quantum Physics

Going to be Unleashed onto the World

And Kashmir Holds its Secret

Multiple intelligence agencies are tracking Mansur Haider, a god-fearing aspiring cricketer from Kashmir. His girlfriend, Aahana Yajurvedi, is trying to locate her missing mountaineering team, which vanished after a mysterious earthquake struck Shaksgam Valley. Investigating Mansur and the Shaksgam Valley incident is Swedish intelligence officer, Adolf Silfverskiold, whose only relationship to God consists of escorting his girlfriend to Church.

A dual China-Pakistan battlefront scenario facing the Indian Home Minister, Agastya Rathore, whose ancestors carry a prehistoric secret linked to the stars. He is faced with the challenge of finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis.

Which biblical weapon was tested in Shaksgam valley? Why is Mansur Haider important? Is there a solution to the Kashmir crisis? Can destiny be controlled? Does a cosmic religion exist?




I had been applying to read and review this book through various forums and when finally The Tales Pensieve decided to accommodate my request through their Book Reviews program, I was glad. And believe me when I say this, it turned out to be probably one of the best decisions in recent times. Clark Prasad took me on a ride like never before and it was hard to believe that such a masterful thriller of a book can be written by a debutant author.

The book deals with multiple threads which are woven into one beautiful tapestry by wonderfully interconnected threads. At the heart of it, this is a story of an ancient divine weapon which has the potential to change the world as we know it. The lives of Mansur Haider, an up and coming cricketer from Kashmir, his girlfriend Aahana Yajurvedi, Swedish intelligence officer Adolg Silfverskiold are inexplicably changed when they get involved with each other and with the weapon due to entirely different circumstances. And when the Indian Home Minister Agastya Rathore also gets involved with the happenings, more spice is added to the already spicy dish that the plot really is.

Hopping from Pakistan occupied Kashmir to Sweden, the book deals with hardcore cloak and dagger stuff being dealt in by intelligence agencies around the world with players such as politicians and intelligence chiefs getting involved. This is the stuff that we usually read about in Frederick Forsyth thrillers and coming from an Indian debutant, it truly does herald a new wave in Indian literature.

Given that this is the first part of a trilogy which unusually need not necessarily be read in sequential order according to the author, I am surely going to pick up the remaining two books. Am not giving away anything more of the plot here due to a specific request by the author not to do so and allow all readers of the book to enjoy it to its fullest by themselves.

Suffice to say that the author dabbles with fields such as politics, espionage, archeo-astronomy and human relationships with such ease that you would be forgiven to think that he is a veteran of many books of one or more of these genres. The amount of research that he has done on the various fields that this book deals with is all listed out in the appendix and is truly commendable. For anybody who thought writing a spy-thriller book was cake walk, think again, as Clark Prasad truly has set the benchmark, at least for Indian authors in this genre.


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.



Related information

Name Baramulla Bomber
Author/s Clark Prasad
Publisher Niyogi Books India
Year published 2013
ISBN 13 9789381523971
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Link
Amazon link Link