Sunday, October 8, 2017

Book Review: 'Mudmen - The Quest for Humanity' by Shitij Sharma

Indian author Shitij Sharma made an impressive debut at age 19 years with THE GIRL FROM ROSTOV. Not only a young writer but also a young philosopher, Shitij shares his view of the universe – ‘This world was a strange place to live in. It was disorderly and chaotic. Therefore, we had to find our way through this labyrinth of human emotions and actions to arrive at a place where there was some resemblance to order, order in the form of disorderly governments and a moral compass that does not always point north.' He lives in New Delhi, India and is committed to writing as a career.

Shitij describes this first installment in his MUDMEN TRIOLOGY as an overview – ‘Mudmen is a story unlike anything you have ever seen before. It all starts with a half-crazed dwarf scribbling furiously on a piece of paper while the world outside his little cottage is ravaged by a great storm. There is an artifact in his possession which gives him power over all else but that artifact is stolen by the very creatures that he gave birth to in his frustration – these creatures are what we come to know as the Mudmen.’

The novel is short, actually a novella, a fact that is in its favor in that it can comfortable read in one sitting, not only intensifying the effect of the concept the story conveys, but also because it allows the ideas to sink in completely developed, prepping the reader for the next volume in the series.

Shitij’s compelling writing suggests not only his fertile imagination but also a growing polish in this prose – ‘When the great storm finally subsided there was nothing left but a little man and his cottage filled with sheets of paper. On these sheets were words and symbols decipherable only to the man who had scribbled them. It was an ancient script, one that had been lost through the passage of time. It was the language of the men before men, the Ancients whose footprints on this earth had faded long before the little man was born. And then the sun no longer shone and there was only darkness; because the sun no longer existed and in its absence stood a gaping hole that swallowed the entire Universe. And yet nothing disturbed the little man’s creations. His world was safe for as long as he wished it to be so and there was not yet any reason for him to wish otherwise. It was then, when the world had been completely swallowed by darkness, that the words and the symbols on these pages began to glow in every colour imaginable. The little man continued to write by the glow which they provided. Then little by little these words and symbols began to float off the paper and into the sky, encompassing everything under God’s eye. Then the sun began to shine once again, brighter than it had ever shone before. The orange ball of fire erupted once more, turning everything that had earlier been swallowed by the abyss into a pile of cosmic ash. Fish once again swam in oceans, the water so clear that you could peer into the bottom of these very oceans and see for yourself all the way to the sea bed and all the life that rested there. Trees, that had been mere saplings a few moments ago, began to grow taller than ever and sprouted fruit, sweeter and juicier than any that had existed on this earth before. New forms of life began to walk the earth, with brains and skulls and limbs of all shapes and sizes.’

This degree of blending philosophy with fantasy is further proof that this young lad is likely to become a respected member of the genre of writing addicting books. As said before, the angst of youth as written by a youth is refreshing and bodes well for a solid career in literature. Grady Harp, February 17
This book is free on Kindle Unlimited

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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