“I have witnessed Mrithasu’s growth before my own eyes. He could have been a Brahmarishi. He can still benefit mankind with the sacred knowledge he has painstakingly acquired from each realm.” “Instead, he has spun quite a spectacular web of evil”, Kanha replied with a calm smile.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
‘Warjuna Book 1: Mrithasu Rising’ is written by Krishnaraj HK.
It is a blend of Indian mythology with standard fantasy fare. I went in expecting something like Anand Neelakanthan’s re-imagining of Indian epics (Asura, Role of the Dice, Rise of Kali); instead it is written more like Shatrujeet Nath’s books (The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru) which use Indian mythological characters but in original stories.
‘Warjuna’ has some nominal characters from the Mahabharata like Arjuna, Ghatokgaja and, of course, Krishna. The story revolves around the rising of an ancient evil (Mrithasu), which leads to the invasion of India and conflicts in the heavens.
I try my best to support Indian authors. So while my review may sound overly harsh, I still request people to go and buy this book since Indian authors need our support. With that said, I am going to objectively look at the plot, pacing, world building and character development in this book.
First, let’s look at the plot. Did the synopsis sound familiar to you? It should have since it is basically all the standard fantasy tropes mashed together with a thin veneer of Indian characters applied to them. Mrithasu is basically Sauron if we want to take a LOTR analogy. Or if we want to look for similar plots – look no further than The Crystal Shard series or The Riftwar series, for example.
Next, the pacing and writing. The pacing is weird. I found it very hard to get into the book and It took me multiple attempts to finish it. One part of the problem is the writing. It is episodic, stilted and does not flow naturally. There is a kernel of a decent story in there somewhere but the text needs a lot more editing. The other problem is that this book reads like the first draft of stage play. There is too much of exposition and the breaks from conversation to world building or plot movement are too abrupt.
The world building is decent enough with a few original concepts. But, these concepts need more polish. I think that with more subtle explanation, getting into the world of this book will be easier.
Character development is non-existent. The culprit is two-fold. The previously mentioned exposition is the first problem. The second problem is that there is no real challenge for the hero. The protagonist needs a hero’s journey for a character arc to exist. Unfortunately, Arjuna seems to find everything falling into place naturally. So how will this journey happen? And how can we empathize with his struggles, if he has none.
Ultimately, ‘Warjuna’ is disappointing. As a baseline, I found Amish Tripathi’s Meluha series to be utter trash and I love Shatrujeeth Nath’s books. So if you liked ‘Meluha’, there is a good chance you will like this book. If not, try Shatrujeeth Nath.
Also published on Medium.