THE SAGA OF AGNI
THE RISE OF THE GREY PRINCE
By Arka Chakrabarti : You can read more about the author on this link : Interview
If you have read the first part : 4 stars. If you have not read it, 2.5 stars. That should tell the reader of this review all he or she needs to know.
The first time I picked it up I just could not make any sense out of it. It was all Greek and Latin to me; nothing made sense, and nothing connected to anything. The land portrayed was alien, the people were completely alien, the narrative connected to events of which I had no knowledge. I found myself constantly leaving through pages, going back and forth to make some sense out of it. And then, I almost gave up. And then, I re-read the most critical page – The Story So Far.
It was a slow and tedious build-up, as the names and characters were totally unfamiliar; and the layout alien. But the concept- that was the puller; that was the attraction. The concept of a fantasy novel always has attraction – and if it is one that is well executed, and real and practically written – then it is a very attractive package…
Had I read the first part, I could have enjoyed it fully. There is a link back in the book, with a short précis on what happened in the first part; but it does not suffice. It is badly penned and presented; there should have been attention to this vital aspect of the book. “The Story So Far” is the most critical section of the book, and needs urgent and immediate refurbishment. It only connected up slowly as I read the book; only then did things make sense. The learning is : have patience; this is a good book. It will connect up.
The book is about a fictional land called Gaya, divided into two continents – The Land Of The Rising Sun, and The Land Of The Setting Sun. It focusses on the main protagonist : Prince Agni, his guru Sidak and his friend Vrish; alongside Prince Yani, in whose father’s care Agni grew up.
The story revolves around The Abode Of Seven, a sort of oligopolistic dictatorship over The Land Of The Setting Sun. A seer has prophesied that a prince will take this down, which is what leads to all Princes being targeted. Agni’s father takes on The Seven, and smuggles him out; Agni grows up in The Rising Sun, unaware of the reality.
This is the backdrop of the story of the current book. This 2nd part focusses on Agni, Yani, Sidak and Vrish, as their lives intertwine as a result of the past, and through them the author tells the story of Agni returning to the Land of the Setting Sun, the place where it all began,, where Agni returns – to hunt for his mother; and to hunt for answers to the many questions in his mind.
First, the “The Story So Far” section needs to be properly organised. Second, the start of the book should ideally give a list of characters and the basics of those characters, which is vital given the length of the story, and its complexity and number of characters. This is what some other authors have done; this helps in furthering the absorption of the material.
Charectarisation is not upto the mark; the characters have not been properly filled out in this book at least. This could of course be due to the fact that the character development happened in a previous book; in which case a small short but effective summary of each character on re-introduction becomes vital. As things stand, as the characters are not fleshed out and are in addition completely alien as well as in an alien or fantasy setting, they just do not register or impress. You do not make a connect with any character.
The story is fast-paced, develops rapidly, and is enthralling once you get into the story, and begin to make a connect with it. This part has been properly handled, and this is what tells me that the story is worth reading. The key is getting clarity as to what happened in the book, as I clarified above.
All in all, this is a very promising concept, and could be a top-notch fantasy thriller, if the points highlighted above are taken care of. The narrative is fast and interesting, the story has been handled well, and the concept is fascinating. All it requires is attention to detail, proper presentation, and properly fleshing out the story so that late comers can also connect; this will work in two ways.
First, it will heighten enjoyment for readers of the entire series, as they will like as not have forgotten the contents of the previous book/s – and will thus serve as a reminder to them. Second, for newcomers, it will ensure that they understand the concept properly and will cut down negative reviews of the book. The current presentation does not meet the mark; that apart – all else is great. Should you buy into the series? If you are into fiction, then no reason why you shouldn’t; the concept is fascinating.