Sunday, July 10, 2005

Book Review: The Simoquin Prophecies

By Samit Basu

As the weather over the last few days has taught me, when it rains it pours. So too with my Book Reviews.

The Simoquin Prophecies was a wonderful book, very endearing in fact. It's the first work of Fantasy I've read by an Indian Author since Salman Rushdie's Haroon and the Sea of Stories. This is quite a different read with it's own style and character. Let me expand on that, in a while.
The storyline is an atypical epic, that is a story of heroism and valour and courage and strength, and how it all really doesn't work in the end. It's a fantasy world that seems steeped in realism, or cynicism as some may have it, where the boundaries between good and evil are not only not well defined, but exist only in the media's mind. I'm guessing you've already figured out why I liked it.
The style of writing is brilliant. I would say the author is a Terry Prachett fan, and certainly comes out like him, but then who knows these things. The universe and characters are vivid in thought and description, be they scantily clad centauresses, Bridget Jonesey Spellcasters, Confused Hero's or James-Bond-Gone-Wrong-Assisins, you've got em all. He's got his own flair about him, and manages to maintain a taut storyline, his own universe and some great characters along with several parodies of epics and pop culture thrown in to boot.
What I really liked was the ending, even though a lot of you may find it very abrupt. It's very fitting, it's very real and it leaves you with a sense of goodness about it. You don't feel cheated by the enivitability of things, as you would reading most other Good Vs Evil storylines. But then, as I mentioned, this is not a Good Vs Evil book. It just makes itself out to be one.

I had heard Outlook had hyped up this book a good deal, some time ago, but I don't think it ever took off. I haven't seen this read in the bookstalls too often, and never in a bestseller list. Which is a royal shame, because surely it deserves it's position above the Arundhati Roy's of this world. So let me attempt to give it a second round of hype, and ask you to pick the book up.

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