Monday, January 23, 2006

The Manticore's Secret: TimeOut Mumbai review

by Rahul Srivastava

The equel to India's first science fiction and fantasy thriller, The Simoqin Prophecies, works remarkably well. Here is Samit Basu again, wildly imaginative and totally in control. This time he frequently allows his cinematic eye to take centre-stage, creating some mesmerising scenes that punctuate the racy narrative - rich descriptions of forested landscapes, ethereal journeys in the sky and a breathtaking climax in the form of a deadly duel in a ruined temple that is actually a portal to another world.
The delicate coalition between Vamans and Humans in threatened by the dramatic, Matrix-inspired entry of three Ravians, representatives of a superior, purity-obsessed race with a dark plan for dominating the entire galaxy. Kirin, Asvin and Maya, all vulnerable, cantankerous heroes of sorts, try to sabotage this plan even as they remain unaware of its dangerous details.
There are twists and turns fuelled by unexpected bouts of self-doubt and astonishing betrayals. A host of characters and creatures inhabit this magical world but the star is undoubtedly the couplet-spouting, rhyme-obsessed, half-man, half-lion Manticore himself.
In spite of all its charmingly reckless and seriousness-denying humour, this is also a novel guided by a sharp and informed vision of history. Basu writes as much with an eye on thrills as with an awareness of the many dimensions of his characters. He resolutely avoids good versus evil binaries that frequently cripple narratives of this genre.
In a referential nod to literary traditions that go beyond Terry Pratchett, the characters thankfully remain human, even when they are asuras, celestial beings, animals or the great gods themselves. In a familiar mythological twist, he frames the story with a meta-narrative, where these great gods are the real power-mongers who control every breath of the tragic heroes who in turn are of course, just pawns in the celestial "GamwWorld".
Thorougly enjoyable.

...from TimeOut Mumbai, Jan 13-26, 2006. pg. 47


Blogger Babelfish said...

To the wondrously Wordy Wizard, the nefarious Nizam of Nuance, the sublime Ssultan of Ssyntaxs, the peerless Pasha of Plot--can you tell that Stochastos is one of my favourite characters? Congratulations on your fine sequel, and don't make us wait too long for the last installment. (If you're interested, I have some thoughts about The Manticore's Secret at

5:23 am  
Blogger MinCat said...

pleasepleaseplease say you've got the third one coming out soon?
*eyes glazed* need...closure...

3:22 am  
Blogger Panacea said...

and damn it because i cant read it until this summer!

8:34 am  
Blogger B said...

remember the deal. before i turn 20. otherwise, no wedding bells will be ringing.

10:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read The Simoquin Prophecies last year. Still have fond memories of the absolutely fantastic world you had created in that book. Will read the second one as soon as I can buy it. Continue the good work.

7:04 am  
Blogger keeps changing said...

Loved reading the first book but missed your reading... did you leave behind any copies at Odyssey and Hyderabad?

2:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i read the simoquin prophecies when i was in india last summer, loved it, have been waiting anxiously for the second one... and now that it's out, i can't figure out how to buy it from the u.s. other than sending my cousin's on a mission to buy-and-ship it to me here, how can i get my fix?

5:59 am  
Blogger Tanmay said...

Can't wait to read your book. Should be a blast.

7:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think im ur biggest fan anyway u know Paromita Shastri(Outlook)she's my pishi or do u know Abhijeet Banerjee hes my fathers friend hoping to meet u ive got a few novels myself and remember im ur biggest fan

4:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will the third part be published??? I cannot wait. Pls Pls Pls

9:21 pm  

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