Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Review: Warrior by Olivier Lafont

Books based on Indian mythology is a rage these days. One recent entry into that long line is the mythological fantasy novel Warrior written by Olivier Lafont and published by Penguin Books. Olivier Lafont is a French actor and writer residing in Mumbai. He has acted in many movies and ads. If you want me to pinpoint, he's Kareena's fiancée in 3 Idiots. To be sincere, that was one of the reasons why I agreed to review Warrior, another reason was Penguin being the publisher of it. Some of the best books that I read from my childhood were Penguin paperbacks. Let's see how Warrior stood up to my expectations.

Saam is the son of Destroyer, God Shiva. He is an immortal demigod, living in disguise as a watchmender on Marine Drive, with his mortal mate Maya. One fine day Apocalypse strikes when a faceless enemy triggers a chain of events. Probably Saam is the only one who can avert the end of the world, but for that he has to race against time and find the clues from the long lost Kaal Veda. Joining him are six other companions, some of whom he can barely trust, like his half brother Ara, the spider.

Lafont's hero Saam is the typical brooding, soul-searching, wounded-by-the-past kind of super hero of our time. The other motley characters of the novel also follows existing super-hero/fantasy protocols to the book. But the author succeeds in making them endearing to us by painting them in every extreme shades possible. The varying kind of insanity prevailing in each one of them makes us overlook the familiarity. I especially loved the reckless Ara, with his sarcastic comments and Fazal, the only somber entity in the lot, who strangely become pivotal to the plot many a time.

The plot is epic in scale and covers a lot of geography and history. From Mumbai China to a parallel universe with perpetual fighting machines as inhabitants, from present day to British Raj to the rule of Ming dynasty, the scope of the novel is vast. Writer also touches various subjects on his way- mythology, ethics, time travel, science, romance and politics being only some of them. He succeeds in skillfully interweaving all these into his plot without making the reader feeling bogged down.

I also loved the author putting a sudden break to the relentless initial pace by making all characters assemble in a timeless world. It dragged the narrative a bit, but the insights gathered there helps the reader to appreciate the later developments fully. It also adds a certain depth to the plot. Warrior can be a delight for fantasy-science fiction lovers thanks to the thick, satisfying plotting.

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