Ramayana: Rise of The Sun Prince - Book Review

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 Vishaal 0 Comments

Title:-  Rise of The Sun Prince, Book 1
Series:- Ramayana: The Game of Life
Language: English
Author:- Shubha Vilas
Genre: Mythology
Publisher:- Jaico Publishing House (2013)
ISBN 13:- 9788184955309
Binding:- Paperback
Number of pages:- 256

The blurb goes like this :-
The narrative closely follows Valmikis Ramayana, gently weaving in folk tales as well as the beautiful analogies of the Kamba Ramayana. The first of this six-volume series, Rise of the Sun Prince, takes you through the divine story of Lord Rama from his birth up to his marriage. Through these pages, the tales of Dasarathas leadership, Vishwamitras quest for power and the intriguing story of a little-known stone maiden are revealed. Ramayana: The Game of Life has all of this and much more – food for contemporary thought drawn from an enduring masterpiece.
Quick Review:  There has been a sudden interest in retelling the Hindu/Indian mythological stories in recent times. The problem with this is, there is only so much you can tell. The book - Rise of The Sun Prince is book 1 in a 6 part series written by author Shubha Vilas and attempts to retell the Ramayana, interpreting the various events from a different perspective. However, it ends up as just another book in the market, trying to overdo things.

Detailed Review: 
The Ramayana, story of Sri Rama or God Rama, is a story which every Hindu knows. Some know the intricacies in the story line,  but most of us have a working knowledge. It is something we hear during our childhood and stays with us for life. To tell this story again, and bring a freshness to it at the same time, needs a brave heart and a person who has tremendous self-confidence to pull it off. 

The author Shubha Vilas, promises to this and much more in the introduction to the book. He starts of well, providing a brief yet precise background to the story, not delving into too much detail, but introducing the major back story needed to delve further into the Ramayana. He does introduce a few aspects that may not be commonly known among people who've heard the Ramayana stories. (Most of us would be surprised to know that the Ramayana was written and completed during Rama's time, or that his sons sand the story to him.)

The story begins with Ratnakara, the hunter-thief who is transformed to the great muni Valmiki. It shows the trials he goes through to finally become great enough to start writing the Ramayana. The book also traces the life of the other great rishi of the times Vishwamitra. The author even says that Vishwamitra is the hero of this book. However, I found nothing new in this part of the story. To the uninformed reader, this book may be an eye opener, but for someone who has read the Ramayana in its original, this book may seem dull.

The rest of the book is a simple retelling of the most famous (after the Mahabharata) epic of Hindu mythology and except for a few aspects, doesn't bring anything new to the table.

1. The writing style is fluid.
2. A sense of drama is created.
3. A very light and breezy read for the uninitiated.

1. Foot Notes. At some places the footnotes fill in almost the entire page.
2. Author wants to do a modern retelling. However, some parts of the books stick to the miracles and stuff when a scientific and rational explanation could have been given.

Who will enjoy this? - Children. Adults who want a simple book to read to their children.

Buy or Don’t Buy? – The book is a very simple retelling of the Ramayana. True it has footnotes that highlight the moral aspects and Life Lessons’ or ‘Sutras’on each page, which may be helpful to those telling the stories to the kids. For me though, it does not work well. If you do want it, you can buy the book at Amazon India for Rs.159 (Rs 89 off the cover price) Or on Flipkart at Rs. 175(Rs. 75 off the cover price).

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