Friday, October 26, 2012

Dark Pursuit: The Lost Shinmahs - Review


(It is a tough ask for someone who normally does not do book reviews to do one for a book self-published on Amazon by an author who is a friend. But for the fact that the book is in my favorite genre – Fantasy – I would probably have declined. The link on Amazon relating to the book and the blog-link of the author are
Fantasy-writing, in general, has normally relied upon or borrowed heavily from existing myth and legend. In the west a vast number of books have been written re-interpreting the Arthurian legends. Celtic myth has supplied authors with material to spin their fantasies as, indeed, has the Graeco-Roman myth. In India, fantasy has made a nascent beginning and, again, it has its roots in Indian myth or legend.
In a mature market like the west fantasy that spins tales with no readily discernible symbols from existing and well-known myth has also found space and appreciation. In India, such is yet to take place. The author of this book has spun a fantasy about a world that may have some mention of the Atlantis equivalent for India – Lemuria – but the fantasy elements have no instant recognition factor because they spring mostly from his inventive mind. This, probably, is why this book has failed to find a publisher and needed to be self-published.
The tale is about Adoy, who is unaware that his parents are people with uncommon mental powers – the Shinmah – and he, himself, has the same powers. With the dark warlord of Yashin – Khomer – out to hunt out and destroy all the Lost Shinmah, he makes a perilous journey to Liguanea where he is to get his mind trained. Book-I of this epic fantasy series tells the tale of his travel to Liguanea and the perils he faces in Liguanea in the course of his training and ends with a confrontation with Khomer.
The book is a fast and pacy read. The author has managed to maintain the tempo of the story throughout the book and the language is better than quite a few published books from India that I have read. The inventiveness of the author in creating his world and the plotting of events right up to the climax of this book is worthy of appreciation.
There were two issues for me, however, with the book. The first is that the characters are, by and large, monochrome. In other words, the good are good and the bad are bad. A person can be good but too proud and ready to take insult or unwilling to change or any of the myriad shades of human obstinacy that can make even the good have friction with each other. My second issue arises from the first. With such frictions, one can expect strands of the story playing out within the ranks of the good other than the primary strand of opposition to the main antagonist. The author has targeted Young Adults, it would appear, and has decided to make characters less complex. In my opinion, the tale would have been elevated to a different level had he fleshed out his characters.
Nevertheless, the story holds the reader’s attention for its sheer inventiveness, pace of the narrative and plotting of the events. All in all if you want a light and pacy ride into the realms of fantasy this could be the book for you.

18 comments:

  1. I like fantasy stories...Seems to be an interesting read...Btw how does one go about self publishing a book? Do you have any references for that Suresh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will have to check with my friend. :)

      Delete
  2. You've done quite an objective review here, even though reviews are not your cup of tea.
    However, I do agree, fantasy allows one's minds to run free, spinning tales out of myriad, small events or creatures. Harry Potter was the classic example of this. I was hooked on to that book from the word Go. :)
    Nice post CS :) :)

    Regards

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly tried to! If I had only wanted to plug the story, I would have written one of my usual posts about it :)

      Delete
  3. Well, I myself do not like to review books, the only reason I have started reviewing, is for the simple reason, I want to read new Indian authors without paying for the copy:p

    As I expected your review is honest and precise. Thanks Suresh :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ghazala! It is difficult to maintain a balance when it is the book of a good friend. I hope I managed it!

      Delete
  4. That is an apt analysis and a fantastic review, Suresh. I quite agree with you about the themes and contents drawing on mythologies. The 'monochrome' characterization is a huge repellent for me. I hope the author takes reformative measures soon. Loved reading the review. Do it oftener.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Uma! That is an encomium indeed! In the author's defense, I must say that he was not attempting adult fantasy and that accounts for the characters being less complex than you or I would like!

      Delete
  5. If I was in fantasy, I would have scouted for this book! A very honest review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mmm! DS! Wish you were into fantasy :)

      Delete
  6. Suresh, your attempt at book reviewing is really great. You have given an objective critique. I would love to read that book soon.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Somehow this book sounds to me like Ergorn. Nice balanced review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is similar to Eragon in that both are coming of age stories. While Eragon was about dragons and magic, this one is about mental powers.

      Delete
  8. Self-published work!! Grt going... In India there is still not much offered in this genre- fantasy. We swoon on Harry Potter types..Your friends book looks like a nice attempt.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The book is now #3 on Amazon's Epic Fantasy Kindle Book List.

    ReplyDelete