Scion of Ikshvaku (Ram Chandra series #1) by Amish Tripathi : A review

Scion of Ikshvaku (Ram Chandra Series, #1)Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish Tripathi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐
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Hmmm….Yeah, so I read this ‘Ramayana remake’.  Didn’t like it. Well okay….maybe I liked only tiny portions. Kinda-sorta okayish book I’d say.

Do you think otherwise? Let me know here: 

Ram is born on the day of Dhasharath’s first defeat against Raavan!(preposterous, and ridiculously twisted) This victimizes Ram in Dhasharath’s eye. The King blames his first defeat on the new born. How is a baby responsible for a king’s blunders in war? I don’t know. But it says a lot about how much we suck. As a community that buys into such idiotic beliefs, and as an audience who hasn’t raised riots for infantile injustice.

Okay. Maybe that was too strong.

The plot and sub-plot:

Ram, Lakshman (I’d like to call him Lakky from now) Bharat and Shatrugnan are brothers from different wombs. They grow up in a gurukul. They have different gurukul names, sorta like these fake reddit usernames. This is to protect the royal family from danger. Totally unnecessary if you ask me. Can’t remember any of those now.

The boys are trained under Saint Vashishta (or should I say Shady Vashishta?!) Because Vashista seems to have mysterious dealings with  the Nagas (deformed people according to Amish Tripathi) Why is Vashishta associated with the Nagas? And why are they interested in Ram and Co. ? A sub-plot arises.

The boys grow up, unawares of this other face of their guru. Over the course of 16 years, they are trained in fighting, archery and other life skills. They learn about vedhas, dharma and history.

Ram is especially interested in Dharma. Bharat is especially interesting in girls. Both of them are equally interested in politics and ruling the kingdom.

They do spend a good part of their time in the gurukul, learning about their ancestors. Their guru talks a lot about sociology concepts like the feminine and the masculine ways of life, what are their benefits, the disadvantages, so on and on. After a while I began wondering if Amish was talking about society 5000 years ago, or if he is taking a satirical hit on today’s system. Because most of the social constructs seem like they are new-age. Whatever it was, it was all very boring for me.

I can only say that Amish made some fatal flaws in the name of humor. Pay the bills?!! Like really? That was something that made me stop reading and go… Whaaaat??? Likewise there are just too many modern terms – pain killers, operation theatres, business woman, police force etc. At this point, I’m beginning to dismiss this as a retelling of the epic.

Scion of Ikshvaku reading progress

Now, either Ram or Bharat could become the crown prince of the Kingdom of Ayodhya. That decision totally depends on King Dhasharath. But is King Dhasharath in the mood to favour Ram, after his most embarrassing defeat against Raavan? (still preposterous!!)

Is Ram worthy of becoming the crown prince? The main plot of Scion of Ikshvaku rests on this point.

Being potential crown princes and all, the brothers start discussing politics in their early teenage. Ram staunchly adheres to the laws and is mesmerized by the historical (?!?) masculine society of their ancestors. Bharath (when his is not fooling around with girls) has some strong opinions about how to run a kingdom. BTW while Ram is toiling away to become Dhasharath’s pet son, Bharat is having a love affair with the daughter of the Tribal chief of the forests near their gurukul.

The story suddenly jumps from the gurukul to Ayodhya. Apparently Ayodhya is in a state of moral and economical decadence, after Raavan defeated Dhasharath (remember? like 20 years ago…when Ram was born).

If Amish being confused wasn’t enough, the people of Ayodhya are too. First they hate Ram because the King hates his own firstborn. Next thing you know the King loves Ram for saving his life in a singular hunting expedition. So the people love him. Kyu? Why? Why u no clarity? 

Characterization:

The one thing I really liked in this book is contrasting characters. Ram, easily beguiled, strict follower of rules and a one-woman man (this phrase is repeated multiple times in the book itself) At one point, Ram claims that he would only fall in love with a woman who earns his respect.

irish setterLakky is a lovable fellow. Kinda reminds me of the breed Irish Setter. He is huge, he doesn’t know his own strength, is extremely lovable and just wants to play. Kiddo Lakky is the cooooootestttt ❤ Even when he’s all grown-up and married. Lakky comforts his wife, that was the most touching scene in the whole book. Lakky and Urmila make a cute pair… ❤

Bharat is more practical. A playboy, a true friend and brother. Don’t-care-to-break-rules types. We don’t see much about Shatrugnan, except that he’s a studious fellow and in always immersed in his books forever.

The actual story…

All this is fine, but when does Ramayana begin? Those were exactly my thoughts.

Fortunately, the story moves on, but not really in the way we want it to. When it’s time to choose a crown prince, Dhasharath is confused. So he ends up making Ram the commander of the police force of Ayodhya; And Bharat, the external affairs minister (do you see why I called this societal structure new-age?). After a gross incident of gang rape (alluding to the Nirbhaya case), Ram is left feeling devastated at his incompetency as the chief of police. Then stuff happens and blah blah…and then I don’t remember how, but Ram ends up in Mithila.

Mithila is a progressive kingdom in terms of their culture and architectural proficiency. Not so much coffers-wise. Mithila is struggling to maintain its political ties with kingdoms nearby. Their Prime Minister is Sita.

Ram falls in respect, I’m sorry , he falls in love with Sita.

Sita likes him back. Swayamvar takes place. Here’s the crazy part…

The Swayamvar is from MAHABHARAT!! Yep, that scene where Arjun has to shoot at the fish’s eye above, by only looking into its reflection? That’s what happens here. Wrong epic, Amish. Maybe you fell asleep during your research? 

If that was shocking then get this: Kaikeyi should’ve been the one to banish Ram, but Ram banishes himself for nuking Raavan’s troops. Yeah, Raavan makes a reappearance. But not even this time it’s the real one from Ramayan. Amish has been using Raavan as a threatening villain, who occurs only twice in the story but annoys us.

I’m an action person. I wants wars. 😦

By the end, I felt that I’d be more interested to read about Bharat and Shatrughna instead of Ram and Lakky. Ram was only interested in building an utopian society. He was like that one attentive student in the lecture hall, listening to speeches and furiously taking notes. I didn’t think he had the empathy for his subjects. Plus, I also think that the real Ram wasn’t this stuck-up.

Scion of Ikshvaku was only a prelude to Ramayan. The  story begins only at the end.I’m officially disappointed. Hmm, and I also didn’t have any goosebumps-worthy moments.

Overall feeling – Meh.

On a totally unrelated note, is this Ikshvaku person even real?

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