Thursday, 7 April 2016

Pradyumna - Usha Narayanan

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A novel way of handling a mythological character.

It was fascinating to see how mythology is India's answer to the fantasy genre of the West where Gods take human forms and take on the demons in a brilliant, action packed stories.

In a market where peripheral mythological characters like Sita's sister and Karna's wife are telling their versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana, the book adds interest to the already popular genre.

It is not a well known fact that Pradyumna was Krishna's son and the fact that it says in the title draws attention and curiosity in equal measure.

Secondly when  you have a multi faceted full bodied character like Krishna, can Pradyumna stand up to him? Hmm..I soon found out.


Pradyumna is raised as the son of Kalasura, Vama, a weakling, unable to match the ferocity and the capabilities of his mighty father.  He has an ally in Mayavati, his mother who shields him from the wrath of the King. However, matters come to a head when an angry Kalasura decides to kill Vama. Why does he have so much hatred for his own son? What does Mayavati know about the young Pradyumna?

Like all mythological characters, Pradyumna is the avatar of a God in human form. He is one of the two sons born to Krishna. Narada the celestial rishi foretells a dark vision for the sons - one the saviour, the other destroyer. So who is Pradyumna after all?

The story spans from his fight with Kalasura to his reunion with his real parents to developing as persona like his father. The character comes to life in these pages as he battles demons both physical and psychological.

What works:
  •  The pages contain many mythological stories. It is the amazing the way these tiny stories have been threaded with the main plot. It shows off the author's knowledge and her ability to weave a good plot with these stories.
  • The choice of the character Pradyumna is really an intriguing one. Krishna is a well loved character and since it is about the son, it definitely piques interest.
  • Krishna is seen her in a different role. He is the all knowing one, the one  with all the answers. However, he does not intervene and when he does, he plays a pivotal role.
  • The characters of Shiva and Brahma add depth to the story.
  • There is lots of action in the story. It reminded me of Harry Potter dodging illusions and fighting off demons.
  • The language is superior and sophisticated and adds value to the story. 

What doesn't:
  • At one point the stories in stories tends to get a bit much. That's the trouble with having too much background information.
  • Where there are other strong characters, Pradyumna tends to get a bit overshadowed.
  • There is too much action that it becomes hard to find out what is happening and  becomes demanding of the reader.
  • There is a bit of repetition where at one  point all that Pradyumna seems to be doing is wooing maidens and killing their dads.
  • The plot tends to feel a bit patchy at times and that affects the flow of the story.
Overall a good read for lovers of Indian mythological fiction.  I am a big fan and the book refreshed my memory bank of mythological stories. It is amazing how there are stories within stories. 

The book is a good projection of Indian culture through the mythological lens - it offers a fascinating 
 perspective on age old stories.

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