Baahubali Part 2 has wrapped up the burning ‘Question of Katappa’ and, the door to an exciting world. Now, we’re left with a void. To fill that Mahishmathi-sized gap that's hungry for some stellar fantasy, we’ve got a list. A round-up of books that take you to new worlds of myth, mystery, magic and thrills. Get your fill with these to get over the Baahubali hangover.
Samit Basu’s The Gameworld Trilogy
Expect mythical creatures, swashbuckling action, dark secrets, shocking plot twists and more in this trilogy that helps itself liberally to the mythological arsenal of the East and West. Manticores and Rakshasas, Centaurs and Asuras share the pages of the three books - The Simoqin Prophecies, The Manticore’s Secret, and The Unwaba Revelations. Basu’s Avranti, quite like Mahishmathi, is an example of great world-building.
The story revolves around Kirin, who’s not your archetypal hero, and two prophecies. One, foretells the return of the Rakshas Danh-Gem. The other, predicts that a hero will challenge him. Sounds familiar? The Gameworld Trilogy among other things, also tips its hat to Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Ramayana, Greek Mythological Heroes and some more. A word of advice: Get all three books before you start because it’s unputdownable!
Amish Tripathi’s The Shiva Trilogy
This series took India by storm! A gripping page-turner, Amish Tripathi demystifies Lord Shiva over three books. It may be fiction but it’s a means to champion the virtues and foibles of the Gods and make what’s hallowed more accessible. For instance, his interpretation of how Ganesha came to have his trunk comes with unpredictable plot twists and a humanising angle. But read because it is a fantastic tale.
Anand Neelakantan’s Ajaya and Asura
For those of you who are yet to pick up the prequel to Baahubali, please do. The Rise of Sivagami should be a quick read. And when you’re done with that, you’ll want to turn to Ajaya and Asura. Director Rajamouli himself credits Neelakantan for bringing him back into the fold of reading.
Ajaya: Roll of the Dice is an interesting perspective on the Mahabharata, championing Duryodhana as the central character. Asura: Tale of the Vanquished is a retelling of the Ramayana by the villain, Ravana. Considering both these works draw from the epics, expect intrigue, bloody warfare and a unique retelling of the personal stories that drive it.
The Devourers by Indra Das
Werewolves. If that has your attention, then The Devourers is for you. But Indra Das’ fantasy-horror is so much more than just a Werewolf story. It revolves around a race of shape-shifters wile also tapping into gender roles. Tip: Read only if you can stomach gore. There’s uninhibited bloodshed as the title itself implies.
The Prophecy of Trivine by Srivatsan Sridharan, Pulkit
Gupta, Tnashin Garg
Sci-fi fantasy, anyone? Look no further. An alien, a hacker, a scientist and an artist, hold the key to humankind’s survival. While that may be an oft-repeated mission in many books, the story here is unlike anything you’ve read before. Apart from having you hanging on to every page with anticipation, the book does well to turn a mirror on humanity, its many failings, victories and the essence of it.
The Guardians of Karma by Mohan Vizhakat
Here’s a sci-fi fantasy set in ancient India pre-dating the Vedic period. A time when earth was covered by ice. A time when Spirituality and Materialism clashed in an epic war. Central to disarming the conflict is a warrior monk named Shiva. Prepare for an exciting journey where science and mythology go hand-in-hand.
Aspyrus by Appupen
A new-age fantasy graphic novel, this is Appupen’s third book set in the world of Halahala (named so after the poison that Shiva drank after it arose from the churning of the primordial ocean). Appupen’s Halahala is a magnified version of our world. And here, in Aspyrus, he presents us with a dystopian view of our lives enveloped in consumerism and appropriated by the monster that controls and consumes us through our dreams both while asleep and awake. If you’re looking for fantasy that breaks away from the mould of rote mythology, this could be your pick.
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