Anya’s carefree teenage life is thrown into turmoil when her mother is abducted, passing on the mantle of wordkeeper to her. Her only ally for this task is a cursed immortal warrior.
In another part of the country, village boy Bilal dismisses tales about a prophecy claiming he is the avatar, Kalki.
Anya and Bilal need to find each other so they can fulfil the old prophecy and destroy their common enemy, the vengeful god who pursues them. Will they succeed?
What do you do when a god is desperate to cling on to power – and you’re in the way?
I had downloaded this book as a part of the free ebook downloads that was offered by Amazon, India last month. I read some reviews, some stating that the book was typical of the genre of young adults while other reviews just called the book bad. But me being me, I cannot let go of any book that promises loads of mythological fiction and this one was about the avatars of Vishnu to boot. So, I read the preview of the book and then a decision was made and the book found its way into my kindle.
Ashwathama is cursed by Krishna to roam the earth till the end of time, until he is set free by his savior, who would be the final avatar of Vishnu, Kalki. When there is a savior, there needs to be a villain which is where Kali,(not the goddess, but the god of all vices) makes an entrance. It has been prophesied that he would rule the Kali yug provided there are no interferences from the savior. In order to make sure that this becomes a reality, Kali and his team of warriors organize themselves to prevent the birth / emerging of the savior. When there is a hero and a villain, there needs to be a guardian or a protector and this where the “Wordkeepers” come in. Heralded by none other than Vibhishan, the brother of Ravan, he has successfully managed the secret clan of “wordkeepers” whose only life mission is to protect the savior with help from other immortals like like Parashuram and Goddess Dhoomvati. The wordkeepers pass on the legacy of this mission from one generation to the next.
It is the middle of the 21st century and the peak of the Kali yug and everything seems to be on track, until a key wordkeeper, Tanya is abducted. She passes on the legacy to her 14 year old daughter Anya who needs to find the savior before its too late. The only catch is that she would not be able to recognize the savior but only find the path that would lead others to Him. Her life turns topsy turvy as she is thrown into a mission along with the cursed Ashwathama who is the only one that can identify the savior…. Also is the savior really a Muslim boy named Bilal from AP?? How are Anya and Bilal connected?? The answers to all this and more is embedded in a web of historical and mythological gobbledygook in the pages of this book!
The author has picked a topic which is pretty new to Indian mythological fiction; one which explores the avatar of Kalki. I haven’t read other books that explore this angle. The book starts where the “Mahabharatha” ends and this was very interesting as the author has picked out “Ashwathama” as an important character to commence this trilogy. The book is fast paced and can be completed within a few hours, provided one can read it in a single setting. The language is very simple, sometimes too simple bordering on “kiddish” which is probably why many believe that only young adults can read this book….Honestly, I wasn’t expecting words like “Bullshit” to make an appearance in the book.
The book is split into sections and each sections begins with a note from Vibhishan. I especially loved how the identity of Vibhishan and Parashuram are revealed. Also the fact that the final avatar could be a non-hindu is very intriguing….
I have to admit, certain parts of the book got me a little curious. For e.g. I haven’t still been able to figure out who Goddess Dhoomvati is and why she travels on a crow! She seems to be a cross between Goddess Kali and some other god or goddess….Also, most of us have grown up listening to how the avatar of Kalki would end the world as we know it, so it was refreshing to view him as a savior of mankind and not as a lord of destruction..
I was very disappointed with the way the book ended! Definitely seemed like the ending of a children’s book. Also the timeline of the story is 2028 which means, life and technology would have improved further compared to what it is now. But then everything that is described can pretty much be mapped to lifestyles of today which is kind of a let down.
I think that all authors who want to write mythological or fantasy fictions should take a note out the books of J.K Rowling – she is someone who has effectively managed to cater to kids, young adults and adults alike! She had the knack of making even the most simplest of things sound magical. The concept and backdrop of this book had a lot of potential to do this, but the author seems to have completely missed it. At the end of the book, I was kind of confused; did I like the book or not?
I enjoyed it in parts and then there were certain sections that I just wanted to get over with!! Maybe the author will improve upon these annoyances in the books that follow.
Verdict – Give it a try if you enjoy mythological / historical fictions. This is a neither here nor there book, but will definitely help make a long train journey or waiting time at the doctors a more interesting one!
About the author:
Jash Sen is a DU, IIM graduate who worked in IT and taught mathematics while dreaming of writing a book. The Wordkeepers is Jash’s first novel and is the first of a trilogy. Check out more details about the trilogy at: http://www.thewordkeepers.com/
I am writing this as a part of UBC July 2013