December 14, 2017

Book Review – Soul Warrior by Falguni Kothari

Soul Warrior serves old wine of Mahabharata with a twist

A review by Rubina Ramesh 

Falguni Kothari

Falguni Kothari

Name of the book: Soul Warrior: Age of Kali

Author: Falguni Kothari

Gerne: Mythology/Fantasy

Star Rating: 4 stars

The Mahabharata …continues…

Are there any mythology lovers out there who have not thought what it would be like if our mythological characters had lived in today’s world? Would Draupadi tolerate her husbands’ gambling her away? Would Sita quietly let the earth swallow her up? Our western counterparts like Rick Riordon and Dan Brown have opened a Pandora’s Box and let the imagination run wild. And now, wild it runs.

Soul Warrior…

Proves that mythology need not be limited only to folklores but can be woven around our modern lifestyle. Personally, I have always been fascinated by Lord Karna’s story. A misguided sacrifice, a wasted honor and a man of supreme talent, all gone wrong with a choice he made in life. A life that was already cursed even before he was born. So when Ms. Kothari made him the central character of her saga, Soul Warrior: Age of Kali, I had to read it.

The Story…

Karna is sent back to earth by Lord Yama after he dies in the battle of Kurukshetra. His duty (read power) was to catch the demonic souls of the asuras (red souls). He was doing a fab job for 7k years until his lost love does not bring back into his life an emotion he had thought he had completely lost. His yearning for a family. A daughter he never knew comes under his protection along with those of his nemeses’- the Pandavas. While the other four girls are endowed with godly powers, his own daughter has nothing to boast of. Ms. Kothari takes the readers into a journey of self-realization, re-discovering love and a beautiful bond that forms between the characters of this novel. Oh, let’s not forget that moment between Ash and Draupadi, when one must forgive and move on with life.

Ash? Ah that another righteous who had gone to the wrong side of the Mahabharata—Ashwathama. If you know the story of what Ashwathama did to the sons of Draupadi, you will agree it takes a supreme effort to forgive a crime of that magnitude. But Ms. Kothari has used her pen to heal many wounds in the characters of Mahabharata.

Old wine in a new bottle…

Characters like Laavya or Ash have traveled over the realm of time. Modern thoughts with modern gadgets yet ashamed of their past actions. It makes a humbling experience to read the thoughts of these men, who must have been great scholars of their time and yet they have no praiseworthy incident to talk of. Just because they chose the wrong side. On the other hand, Baital did not make any progress as he transcends over time in his half bat form. He came out as cute but I have the suspicion that he will not remain so in the upcoming parts of this series.

An eye for details…

I loved the way Ms. Falguni has shown an eye for the details scattered throughout the novel. While describing a scene visualization like,”The dog was slotted for a human rebirth soon,” goes a long way in making the readers see a stray dog walking past Karna. In the same way, describing Asht Deep and Baby created lovely visual effects. Not to forget the sound effect words like Dishum Dishum: Cinematographic!

Another detailed description would be that of Hell. One can only imagine how hell would look like. From Ms. Falguni’s description, let’s say I will now seriously start stocking up on my good deeds.

“…. dumped the bodies on a broad conveyor belt that ran straight to the Everlasting Hell Pyres via a series of X-ray machines. A full body MRI would catch any nefarious objects imbedded in the bodies…”

Ouch!

Humor…

While most of you will find the antics of Baital and the bantering amongst the girls to be quite humorous, (Out of ten, I would give a six), I found the tall, dark handsome Karna, jeans clad shouting ‘Adios non-amigos’ to be very funny. On the other hand, Draupadi in her modern avatar, drinking ‘masala chai’ and acting like an Air India flight attendant will bring a smile on your face. Here’s a glimpse for you:

“…entered the gym with a tray of beverages, like an Air India flight attendant – she even had the requisite top bun hairdo – and went around distributing smoothies, juices and water.”

Don’t forget this is Draupadi we are talking about. Did you smile?

Reason for the Rating…

Great Research…

There is no doubt about the fact that not only has Ms. Falguni done a great research on the interpretation of the Mahabharata but she has also used her own imagination in creating another realm. She has taken enough material from the past to authenticate the story and has mixed it with a heavy dose of imagination to bring out a fresh perspective to the story of Mahabharata. Many of our orthodox readers might raise the questions in the book, but since these questions have always played in my mind too, I could totally understand where Ms.Falguni is coming from.

E.g. Since Kunti had asked all her sons to share the wife, did it not include Karna too? How righteous was the war of Mahabharata? Were the winners really just? As Ms. Falguni has put the words in Yudhishter’s mouth, I felt compelled to steal those same words…

“In an ideal world, I would never have been king.”

Certain assumptions…

While imaginations have every right to run wild but certain situations were hard to digest like Draupadi vanishing into the room with Karna while her five husbands watched. Any acceptance of the relationship scene, before this scene, by the five about their relationship might have made me, as a reader, accept this better.

The influx of characters in the beginning makes the reader go back and forth in the story a couple of times. But then it is a saga and cannot be helped. But what I really appreciated as a reader were the layers of secrecy. When I came to know Draupadi was Qualli, I was surprised as it was so easily revealed to me as a reader. Then I came know who the girls were in their previous life, I again felt cheated. Why was it not revealed as a revelation? And then I came to know about the god powers of Yahvi … the girl who started out with no powers … that made all of the 395 pages a very worthy read.

Will I recommend this book?Book Cover

Oh yes, and be assured you will grab the next one too just to know more about the Soul Warrior.

Line that stayed with me …

“Twisted, knotty relationships were here curse. She didn’t have a single relationship that was smooth and uncomplicated. Even her bonds with her daughters were fraught with tension and sometimes tears because, though she tried very hard not have a tug-of-war with them regarding their life choices, most often she had no control over them.”

If Draupadi, as a mom, could not learn all there is to know about motherhood in the last 7000 years… I should quit complaining!

About the author:

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based hybrid author, and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful and cultural threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. She is published in India in contemporary fiction with global e-book availability, and launches her mythic fantasy series, the Age of Kali, with Soul Warrior. When not writing, dancing or being a domestic goddess, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with readers

About the reviewer:

Rubina's-PICRubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. She has published several short stories and can be reached via Twitter @rubinaramesh199 

 

 

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