I bought this book, Scion of Ikshvaku, few days after its release. Haven’t finished yet. Goes without saying, it is one of the numerous interpretations of the epic, Ramayanam. The word ‘Interpretation’ got me thinking.. how many do I know? Firstly, I was introduced to the epic by my grandparents, as bed-time stories. Followed by Tamil poet Kambar’s Ramayanam, one of the lessons in Tamil, a subject taught in school. I was in awe of Ram whenever I read/heard about him. Meanwhile, I picked up reading as a habit (fortunately!). I was introduced to another interpretation of the epic, Ashok Banker’s Ramayana Series, by my cousin whose name is also Ram. He gifted me the entire set and I loved all the books for the detailed description and Banker’s English. It was the first time I read Ramayanam in English and it was such a pleasure to travel through the series. Disadvantage of having read different interpretations is that you tend to compare and judge. As I sailed through Scion of Ikshvaku, I couldn’t avoid but compare Banker’s with Amish’s and I feel Banker is the winner, hands down. Each of his books was unputdownable. Another point is, I somehow can’t come to terms with the way Amish’s Ram, Lakhsman and other characters speak. Lakshman says, “To hell with the law!”, Ram goes like “touché!”. (I wonder what rest of the book has in store and how will Raavana yell and curse in the coming books!!) Author might have tried to use colloquial language to connect to the young readers but I am not used to reading common, everyday phrases used for such mythological figures. It contradicts with the image I have conjured up of Ram, Lakshman and others so far. Guess I still am old fashioned. Mainly because of this reason I find Scion of Ikshvaku less entertaining. Despite countless retellings, mythology and folk tales will never lose their charm. This is what keeps me going.. but I want to finish Ikshvaku as soon as possible merely to get the image of Bharat, Lakshman and Ram yelling “What the hell!!” out of my mind. Also, I have another old and famous version of Ramayanam waiting on my desk.. that of Cho Ramaswamy’s!!!!
PS: I don’t agree with the testimonial on the book’s front cover- that Amish is India’s first literary popstar. Going by this book, his writing style falls short of the expectations to be associated with word like popstar. Too huge a word it is!