Author: Ashok Banker
Publisher: Penguin Books India
I have read and heard so much about Ashok Banker, after his famous Ramayna series of books. He was right there in my reading list, though I have not read Ramayna series from him yet but I did picked up his latest book Gods of War ( I am not sure if there is any correlation between the famous PS2 game and this book).
On reading the Introduction of the book, I immediately realized that why he is so talked about author. The introduction is so relevant in the current context of the world and has valid, sensible and thought provoking arguments, especially on the violence and the state policy of the developed countries. His introduction is a question mark, that too an insightful one on the conduct of America’s war on terrorism and the state of human affairs across the world. Needless to say I am really impressed by such a meaningful context setting and introduction by a fiction writer.
It would be a bit difficult to actually categorize the book in a particular genre; it would primarily be a combination of science fiction and futuristic mythological fiction. The book is the first part of a series which would comprise of five books in total. The overall plot of the series is that God has become sick and tired of the incessant human warfare and fighting amidst them that he has finally decided to step down as the ultimate savior of the race. The chance of saving the earth and the human race is dependent upon 5 people an Indian chawl boy, a lesbian American lady, a Muslim British Resident and two Japanese twin brothers lead by the Lord Ganesha.
Gods of War, primarily sets the context, and introduces the characters elaborating the context. The beauty of the book is how the religion is blended with the science to put across the laws of the universe. The details kept in mind while depicting religion as an advanced science, have been absolutely well researched and explained in fair amount of detail. If you enjoy reading science fiction and futuristic science, you would really enjoy how Banker has carefully set up the premise that science and religion are not different, rather converge at a point. His basic premise that even Gods are not independent of science is also depicted very carefully and elegantly.
The first half of the book primarily goes in the detailing of the 5 characters switching between them, this half is a bit slow and descriptive leaving the reader wondering about the constant questions being raised in the context of the story. Banker has followed a style of switching chapters where after introducing his characters where he narrates the story continuing the person account while switching the person every time. Somehow I did not found this very appropriate, as the switch was not exactly smooth every time the character changed and interrupted the flow of the story and also I felt that this continuous switching of characters within the story line prevented the reader from building an emotional connect with the characters.
The story picks a fair amount of pace after the first half and also gets a direction which keeps you guessing and Ashok Banker surprises the readers with his excellent imagination of places their mythological and scientific connect. His stronghold on the blended imagination of science and religion seems to be his strongest point of writing and he has used that abundantly in this book. During the constant flurry of events, the story does propagate in the direction which keeps holding the reader’s interests, where the author has put in some tit bits of humor, thought provoking, and surprise.
However, it is the ending of the book that left me unsatisfied. Though I don’t deny the authors effort and quality, but the book on its own didn’t had a strong terminal point. I agree that the book is a part of series and would have fair amount of open questions and loose threads for the writer to pick up later but still the reader reading it as an individual book deserves to have a terminal point. The idea of ending the book at the completion of the journey and meeting Lord Shiva makes it feel like a travelogue through a mystic journey, the basic objective that they are ought to save the world gets lost somewhere. The author has started the book with a great concept and premise but somehow this books doesn’t do justice to it, the complete series might be up to it, and this book can be an excellent start to it, which only the time would tell after the release of the sequels but Individually reading this book, I was expecting a lot more.
Summary: A good read for people who like the science fiction kind of a genre. Would be appreciated a lot by the students who are currently in touch with their science concept and would appreciate the elegance with which he has inculcated the science in his imaginations. However, people expecting a conclusive end of the book or getting into the details of the plot and the pace of the story might be disappointed.
Rating: I would give this one as 2.25/ 5
Ps. The review treats the book as an individual book rather than a part of a series. The views might change once the sequel books of the series are available.