Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review - I, Rama Book 1 by Ravi Venu


AUTHOR: Ravi Venu
Genre: Mythology
ISBN-13: 9780615582504
PRICE: Rs.225 (I received the copy from the Blogadda) 

BACK COVER SAYS: " There will be a time when men will fight among themselves in the name of God, when peace will fail; at that time a part of me will re- emerge."

SWARNALI SPEAKS:I have always loved mythology. And as expected the great Indian epics have always been a source of fascination for me. So when I saw this book up for review at Blogadda, I knew I had to read it. The book is an attempt at retelling the well known epic tale of The Ramyana.
As the very title of the book says, the book is Rama’s perspective of the world around him. Rama is at almost the end of his life and he is reflecting on this past. The narrative is in first person which is very different to the third person omniscient narrator view in Valmiki’s original version. The narration is in flashback mode which is not linear as Rama tells his story to his sons Lava and Kusha and to his friends.
What I really liked about the book is the amount of research work behind it; particularly the work done on some of the characters. The author has shown Rama’s step mother Kaikeyi in a very different light in his version. All those who have read the original epic would know her as a woman who sent away the virtuous Rama to “vanvaas” under the influence of the scheming Manthara, to make way for her son Bharat to ascend the throne of Ayodhya. But here in this book she is shown as a warrior princess with an immense strength of character. Apart from her character, those of the Rishi Vishwamitra and Rama’s wife Sita are portrayed with a lot of details.
Another thing I liked about the book is that the author has tried to maintain a very scientific approach to the story telling.  The stories of the origin of Ganga and the life process on earth were very fascinating to read.
I honestly appreciate the author’s attempt but the book fails in certain parts. For one thing, a book is not just what the author writes; the presentation is also an important part of it. The book has been very poorly presented, the cover is just plain unattractive, says nothing about what’s inside. Then when you open it, the lines just start so abruptly, margins and header spacing are not well formatted.  The book contains some typo errors which can be over looked though.
The author tries hard at presenting picturesque and highly imagistic scenes but I had this feeling of “lost in translation” all the time. It was like the author was thinking in some Indian language and then translating the thought into English. Take these lines –

 " I see the river Sarayu; she seems to be wearing a Golden Fleece woven from the rays of the evening sun, like a beautiful celestial dancer descended from the heavens above to enter the lush green forests looking for her lost love

Now, this could have been extremely beautiful if it was written in Hindi or maybe in some Indian language but it simply loses its charm when told in English.
In a nutshell, the book is a good attempt at retelling a known story. But it does fall short in certain areas. The narrative doesn’t move very fast and it turns out to be a little boring for a reader like me. But for those who love mythology and don’t mind reading very descriptive passages, this book might be a great read.

RATING: 3 / 5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. sounds like an interesting book. yes, those typos and formatting errors can spoil things. but will read this book considering someone has taken a different approach towards a story which has been told a million times.

    exceptional review!!

    1. Hey Debajyoti,
      Thanks for dropping in :)
      The title of the book really got me curious but now having read book 1 I don't think I will be able to survive the remain parts :P
      Am glad you liked the review, thanks for those lovely words :)

  2. It's a real putoff when there's bad formatting and typos in an otherwise good book. You sort of feel let down by the author. This book sounds like it could be made into a pretty decent Hindi movie, if the right director decided to take it up! In spite of the formatting issues, I actually feel like reading it, sounds intriguing :-)

    1. The approach is pretty interesting if you can read medium paced books, you can give this a try :)

  3. Interesting review... My first reaction was same as yours when I saw the front page.... it did seem dull for the name it had. The effect the name created was spoiled because of this and further that you talk about typos and translation...oh it could be really tedious to read it then..

    1. The translation part is what happens with most Indian writers who think in their vernacular or Hindi and then transform the thoughts into English. The book could have otherwise been pretty good you know.

  4. typos always spoil the mood ....have u read Jaya BTW?

    1. Yeah typos and grammatical errors do spoil the mood...No I haven't read that book,who is it by?

  5. This could have been a book club contender, except we just decided on which book to read. It is called "Tinkers".

  6. U love reading mythological..u must be mumy's fav.? ;)
    Well after reading the review I'm pretty sure , this book is not for me.
    Good work, u've done an appreciable review like a pro actually.

    1. I love knowing mythological stuff...and my mum hates mythology coz she can't remember most stuff...hehe :P
      Aww thanks a lot for those words, they mean so much :)

  7. Oh man do typos ever kill a good book. I was trying to read a biography on a woman who's story *really* really interested me. But the author had grammatical errors all over the place! It was awful. Such a disappointment.

    1. Its really a pity when a book with a great story line is riddled with errors, makes reading it so difficult and irritating.

  8. I just finished reading the book.
    Looks like they have corrected all the errors.
    The book was clean formated margin enabled with an opening page blank.
    Cover was laminated with the arrow and title shining out.
    Looks like most blogadda reviewers got the first print for review.
    Interesting book on the whole, more like seeing a movie, typically, its for movie lovers!

    1. Oh I guess that might have been the case, its good that the new edition doesn't have the errors.
      Yeah I do agree that the concept is really interesting, would really love to see a TV show or movie version of the same.
      Thanks for dropping in and leave the lovely comment :)

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