17 October 2023 at 6:30:00 am
Agniputr: When Agni first spoke- An enigmatic blend of fantasy and reality
Vadhan’s mastery lies in crafting fictional fantasy; a combination of the mythological with science is a subject he is well-versed in. ‘Agniputr: When Agni First Spoke’ showcases a brilliant fusion of diverse genres – urban fantasy, sci-fi thriller, supernatural, and the rich tapestry of Indian myths and legends. The book opens with an ominous vibe of a centuries-old haveli, tantricism, and a deadly ritual gone wrong. After leaving readers in suspense, the story picks up in the modern era, where the ghosts of the past are trying to break free.
“There was definitely something old in the cold air, indefinable, as silent as a tomb, watching.”
The premise of the book is best alluded to as a captivating fairy tale – with a larger-than-life entity, an age-old prophecy, a sacrificing prince, and only one man who can save the world. However, the backdrop takes such an eerie and haunting turn that it resembles a horror movie at its best, where chills run down your body as you sift through its pages.
Tasked with a mission to unveil the secret hidden within his ancestral castle, Raghuram Surya returns to his secluded village, Gudem, Andhra Pradesh, known for the creepy aura it emanates. Sheila is a scientist from the CSIR division of the Indian government who is using all the means at her disposal to uncover the immense power hidden in that village, something that has the potential to elevate India to the level of a global superpower.
Like most tales, this one also features an antagonist, the power-hungry politician, Govind Kiromal. With a sinister plan in place, he has been preparing for ages to seize hold of that otherworldly entity and become the most powerful being. The story then unravels as dirty politics, scientific thriller, and the pursuit of justice take center stage.
Vadhan’s writing style is truly phenomenal, with descriptive characters, elaborate world-building, and action-packed scenes. His use of metaphors adds a certain richness to his writing; for example, when he writes ‘like doom spreading its cloak of despair,’ ‘like an angry stallion,’ ‘sluggish resistance to a tectonic invasion,’ and more. The research undertaken to bring originality to Indian mythology is visible, and he has uniquely interwoven it with the scientific world. Another thing that made this book stand out was the fact that Vadhan didn’t shy away from expressing his political opinions. He boldly wove social and political commentary into the fabric of the story, sparking readers’ reflections on real-world issues as well.
Although there are a few instances where the narrative could have been fleshed out better, such as in depicting the relationship between Surya and Sheila, it felt rushed and out of the blue. There was no development shown to the readers. Even the end of the book felt somewhat rushed as it leaves a lot of questions open-ended.
Overall, fans of science fiction and fantasy should add this book to their bookshelves because it offers everything it promises and so much more