Monday, July 30, 2018

Book Review: 'Inkredia: Luwan of Brida' by Sarang Mahajan

‘With his knowledge of magic, he would open portals to fantastic lands and embark upon adventures.’

Indian author Sarang Mahajan is a novelist and a screenwriter. An avid fan of fantasy and science fiction, most of his work belongs to these genres. While writing the four books in the Inkredia Series, he is also working on a science fiction series.

He opens this novel with a curtain raiser – a map of Inkredia and a brief poetic setting - ‘From beyond the horizon, Come the claws of dusk; Followed by the creature, Creeping and crawling All that is seen, It throws into a shadow In Inkredia... Night is falling.’ And it is this blend of fantasy and genuine human relations that make =s the story work so well. 

The mood for his treacherous journey log is set in the Prologue – a fine example of the author’s colorful language gifts – ‘The night charged in with an army of clouds, covering the sky from this horizon to that, just as Sorcerer Klaurus had feared. Standing at the terrace of his castle, he gazed upon the mountains that encircled his fortified village, a small settlement perched atop the smallest mountain in the range. Except for a few distant peaks that were tall enough to pierce through the cover, everything was taken by the shadow of the dark sky. Klaurus looked up. Clouds moved about restlessly, changing forms, churning and mixing together. He could make the moon beyond them, a brighter spot. It was a good sign. All that Klaurus needed was a small opening for the briefest of moments. He walked back to his high chair and sat in it, vaguely glancing at the two empty chairs placed beside him. His guests had left hours ago. They lacked the patience that Klaurus had in abundance. Klaurus fixed his gaze at the sky and sat still. Finally, his patience paid off. Clouds shifted and a beam of moonlight lit up Klaurus’ mountain, leaving the village awash in a soft, silvery glow. ‘Send for them,’ said Klaurus to a massive man at his side. He walked up to a goblet placed on an elevated platform and looked at the black liquid inside it. The reflection of the nearly full moon looked back at him, throwing a faint glimmer on his severe, bony face and on the eyes that would make a vulture proud. ‘The moment is here,’ he said to the two tall men who now joined him at his side. One of them was young and handsome; the other had a hard and resolute face. Klaurus took a fistful of bone dust from his pocket and sprinkled it into the goblet, then sang a long and dark incantation, filling the night sky with his resonant voice. When he was done, he commanded the goblet, ‘Show us whom I sensed with my eyes closed; the one who will obstruct us. Show us where he lives and show us how he looks. Show us the one with the Narsirim.’ The black surface rippled as if Klaurus had dropped a stone in it. When it settled, the face of a young man with long hair appeared in it, briefly. Around his neck was a black medallion with a silver spiral on it. Then the water rippled once more and revealed a lone hut atop a hill; great, snow-clad mountains behind it. The images shimmered, as though a projection of bits and pieces from one’s memory, a faint one at best. But it was enough. ‘I should have known,’ snarled the young man. ‘We have time, Lord Darvon,’ said Klaurus. ‘I can send the best of them and have the boy brought, or his head.’ The man with the hard face nodded. ‘Alive is preferable, but not an absolute priority,’ said the young man. Clouds shifted and darkness took the village again.’ 

The story is complex and getting used to the strange names is rewarded by the quality of the narrative – ‘Inkredia is a land where humans and nonhumans live together in balance, but without ever facing each other, unless... they must. When seventeen-year-old Luwan finds himself in a grave danger, he has to make a daring choice. The village that kept him safe all these years can't protect him anymore. Either he can stay and die or he can enter the dangerous world outside and make journey to a city that will keep him and his sister safe. But there is a good chance that this journey itself will kill him. He sets out, but only to find that his peril is far greater than his calculations. He heads into a mysterious new enemy, a band of legendary assassins that are usually sent to bring down men of great power. Luwan is clueless why they are after his head, but they don't offer him the luxury to find an answer to that question. He's thrown into a relentless run across a great distance. And, as he travels, he learns about fascinating places in Inkredia, about powerful relics and artifacts and... about the dark side of Inkredia. He faces the great force of Ilmor that gives birth to incredible nonhumans. What is the force of Ilmor? Can Luwan protect his sister against such powerful enemies? Will he find answers to all the mysteries?’

Deeply and mysterious and mesmerizing, INKREDIA is land about which we can hope to learn more. 

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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