The Sanguinarian

The Sanguinarian

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Review- Brutal- Uday Satapathy

Two journalists find themselves in grave danger when they uncover links between a present day massacre and an incident which had occurred eight years ago. summary
‘you are in real, real danger’ – a school teacher gets a creepy warning in his mailbox. Seven days later, he massacres eleven of his own students. Two months later, he is gunned down in broad daylight by an obscure militant outfit.
Justice served. The nation pacified. Case closed –-- the police say. But, two crime reporters think otherwise.
Seeking redemption through this case are Prakash and Seema, ace journalists in their professional lives, but broken individuals in the darkness of their personal hells. As they dig deeper into the mystery, they are led into the ominous forests of Bandhavgarh where an eerily similar massacre had occurred eight years ago.
They never see it coming what hits them next.
One by one their leads start turning up in body bags and they are chased by assassins at every corner. Soon they would realize that they are pitted against evil powers pervading the business and political dna of the country, with an unbelievably sinister agenda.
Always one step ahead of them, there is no place to hide for the two journalists. The only way is to fight back. But, to do that, Prakash and Seema will first have to survive. 

First of all, Uday deserves a huge round of applause for going against the grain and writing a thriller. 
In a scenario where writers can't get past mushy college romances, Brutal comes as a monolith, as a rebuttal of current trends in literature in India, as a reminder that aspiring authors in India must look beyond Chetan Bhagat, Ravinder Singh and bestselling formulas. 

I have been an avid reader of crime thrillers since I was a kid- so books of this genre are my first preference over oter genres. I expect every crime novel to take me on a roller coaster ride- make me bite my nails, sit on the edge-of-my-seat and imagine the worst and feel the adrenaline rush in my blood vessels.
And Uday's debut book doesn't disappoint. It is a mad but memorable roller-coaster ride of a book- and in that madness lies Brutal's excellence. 

The book starts with an intriguing prologue which immediately draws the reader into the story. 

After that, for a few pages the story moves very slowly- there is much telling and less showing- my only grouse with the book. The main protagonists, Prakash and Seema are introduced to us in the first chapter- which, towards its end, bursts into action. That is where the book picks up pace. 

And once it picks up pace, Brutal takes you on a wild goose chase ride through India's corridors of power, the underbelly of its cities infested with crime and sleaze, psychopathic individuals like Tejeshwar Kushwaha who suffer from the God Complex and make deals with international terrorists for money, mercenaries like Raman who are also psychopathic cold-blooded murderers who love the thrill of the kill, dirty cops and RAW and IB agents, dirty agents from Mossad and other intelligence agencies, journalists who leave ethics behind to chase a story, but also put their lives on the line, unethical pharmaceutical scientists who carry out clinical trials without permission and endanger lives etc. etc.

As an incident of sudden violence transpires by the end of the first chapter, Seema and Prakash go on a goose-chase to uncover the horrible truth behind why a school teacher murdered eleven of his own students in cold blood. The truth is much more bigger than they could ever imagine. 

As Seema and Prakash travel around the country, dodging bullets and knives and bloodthirsty killers, the reader travels with them. The characters are so well-written that the reader can feel their pain, fear, courage and anguish. The reader can relate to their pain and empathize with them. 

Mrinal and Raman are also well wriiten supporting characters.

The plot is, of course, excellently formulated. The author's knowledge of how mercenaries operate and how journalists function lend an authenticity to both the story and the characters. He doesn't waste time on sub-plots or hyperbole, but comes straight to the point. The writing is of a good quality

That is another thing I like about Uday's writing- no sweeping generalizations, no creeping biases, no other jingoistic nonsense. Just a story of human beings and their humanness and inhumane sides.

The only other nitpick I have is a few typo errors and wrong usage of words/phraseology- but that is something the author can smoothen out in later books.

Uday gets 5/5 on all counts- plot, chharacterization, language, grammar and punctuation etc. 

I wish the author good luck for his future work and eagerly await his next book. 

Uday Satpathy is the one to watch out for. 

Go grab your copy of the book here: Brutal

Review- Faith of the Nine by Sachin Dev

Blurb: “The Third Yuga is slowly drawing to a close. Nam – the greatest Empire on Janani – is going to face some fierce winds of change. Seers foresee omens of death and destruction in the return of the Banished One – A God who will claim the ashes of this world as revenge. While out in the streets, rumours abound – of older forgotten powers stirring.
Caught in this maelstrom of a power struggle between Gods are three ordinary lives: General Fateh, the most celebrated soldier in Nam who starts to question his faith, Ishan – a gifted orphan who struggles to comprehend his destiny and Abhaya – a young monk in search of truths about this world. Their choices and actions will shape the destiny of this scarred world that becomes the playground for vindictive Gods. In a world where Rakshasas arise out of left-over traces of Maaya and twilight forms the portal to countless worlds around us for Daityas and Yakshis to dance through, a God is only as powerful as those who believe.And when Gods rise, faith of men will be tested…And broken.” 

It is hard to come across well-written books these days...especially from a debut author. Therefore, Sachin Dev is a breath of fresh air in this scenario. 
For a debutante in fantasy fiction, a genre still not understood by many in India or chosen by budding authors as a genre to write in, Dev has done a fantastic job. 

The world-building, starting from the Nam empire itself, is amazing in both the imagination and the detailing. Namakaal, Nam-Ehrilitaan, Nam-Ching...and all other places described in the book- capture the imagination. 

The prologue details a well written fight scene, coupled with a gruesome death in Sumeria, capital of Namakaal. This draws the reader in immediately, making them want to proceed. 

From there on, the plot moves at a steady pace, and the author maintains the intrigue very well. Three stories- that of the boy Ishaan, the child prodigy, Seer Abhaya and General Fateh- move parallel to each other to come to a jaw-dropping conclusion. The central city of Nam is under an insidious threat from the old Gods, who were overthrown by the ruling empire. Anyone who worships the old Gods or follows the old ways gets hanged. 

The protagonists are very well-written. The author doesn't shy away from  putting his darlings through a lot of struggle and torture- but their ordeal and the way they fight adversity makes the character arc interesting, and the characters multi-dimensional and rich and memorable. 

What I liked most, apart from the scintillating plot, is the way the author has mixed elements from various mythologies of various faiths to formulate a unique blend of his own world, the Nam empire. He uses references from Hindu, Christian and Assyrian mythology which lend an aura of refreshing multi-culturism to the story. I also liked the sub-text of social evils and prejudice embedded in the plot and characters.

He also adds a lot of horror to the fantasy- supernatural entities bleeding from realm into realm, ancient Gods coming in the protagonists' dreams and also murdering enemies, Yakshis which look like the local version of a succubus ( and are very frightening, BTW), Rakshasaas and an Enchanted Garden which flowers on the bodies of humans and animals it consumes . The horror adds a dash of intrigue and suspense to the mystery of the plot.

On top of everything- the author writes very well. It shows how much work he put in before jumping into publication. There are a few errors in spelling and sentence structure- but otherwise, the writing is original, refreshing and inspiring. The language is excellent- readable without being pedestrian, high-quality without being flowery. 

To summarize, the great imagination, the brilliant characterization and world-building, the multicultural references, the fascinating mix of mystery, horror, supernatural and fantasy make Faith of the Nine an excellent read. 

Full marks to the author for being so good. I wish the author all the best for his future books and eagerly await his next book in the series. 

Sachin Dev is one to watch out for.

You can buy the book here: Faith of the Nine