Tuesday, 19 September 2017

An Excerpt: The Age Of Kali - Soul Warrior

Kuru Kshetra Battlefield.
Day 17 of the Great Kuru War, 
seven thousand five hundred years ago.

Death is hot.

That surprises me. I’d imagined death as cold and brutal. Merciless. But in truth, death is hot as blood, and constant like a heartbeat.

Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. My lifeblood ebbs to the rhythm. My head ripped from its torso by Anjalika, the arrow of death that burns even now with the energy of the sun. Struck from behind like some novice. Felled in battle by that lily-livered usurper the Heavens smile upon—Prince Arjun. Brother Arjun.

What have I done?

I harness the thought. Cease all reflection and wrench free of my mortal body. I soar up, up into the gloaming, snapping the ties that tether me to life. Dead, I have no use for ties.

“A matter of perspective, Karna, O son of my godsire.” The unearthly words strum through the air, and I quiver like a plucked bowstring, overcome as much by the voice as its blasphemous claim. 

“Bonds of devotion nourish the soul, brother.”

There is that word again. Brother. Unpleasant laughter wells up in me. Alive, I am abandoned, denied my birthright—Celestial or royal. Death, it seems, changes everything.

A bright, nebulous light brings forth Lord Yama, the God of Death, atop his divine mount. His elephantine thighs ripple beneath a silken dhoti, ochre and crimson of color, as he guides the mammoth water buffalo to a halt. An iron medallion sways against the God’s powerful cerulean torso, its center stone an ethereal blood orange.

Hypnotic. Pulsing with life. I am drawn to the stone.

“Piteous waste,” Lord Yama mutters, surveying the carnage of war far below us.

I trace the trajectory of his gaze and behold the battered remains of my army drenched in the evidence of its mortality. Is it true? Have we died in vain?

Words form inside me and I will them out. “Shall we go, my lord?”

“Ha! Impatient to be judged, are you? Anxious to have your fate revealed?” asks the Judge of the Hell Realm. His red-black eyes burn with intelligence and compassion in a blue-tinged face that is long and lean and hard. “Rest easy, brother-warrior. You are not bound for the Great Courtroom.”
Not bound for Hell? Where then? Fear has eluded me for so long that I take a moment to recognize it. 

A hollow-bellied feeling it is, as annoying as a bone stuck in my throat.

“My lord, I have done bad deeds…terrible deeds in my life. I have waged wars, this horrendous bloodshed, and all because my pride could not—would not abide rejection. I have sinned. I must atone for my actions.”

Lord Yama smiles in a way I do not like. “You have redeemed yourself admirably, Karna. You forfeited your life for the greater good today. The deed far outweighs any misguided ones. Be at peace, brother, and enjoy the fruits of your karma.”

There is but one place to enjoy such fruits—the Higher Worlds.

I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity. I say so. “I won’t live amongst the Celestials.” Coexisting with the very souls who’ve spurned me is unthinkable. Watching her—for she would surely reside in Heaven soon—will be eternal torture.

Yama shakes his head, the horns on his crown slashing to and fro. “I thought you might say that. Relax. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”

“Am I to be reborn then? Am I to begin a new life, and forget the past?” Pain, sharp as a blade, lances through me at the thought. Forget my past? My family? Even her? Was that my punishment? To forget all that made me human?

It must be so. For have I not betrayed them as surely as I’ve betrayed my prince regent?

“Human rebirth is not your destiny, either. You are chosen, brother. Your war skills are needed for a higher purpose.” The God slips off his mount, his garments rustling in agitation. “This unjust war has pushed the Cosmos to the vortex of a cataclysm. Tomorrow, the Kuru War will end. Fearing its outcome, the Celestials rolled the Die of Fate and have unwittingly bestowed on Demon Kali untold powers.” Lord Yama bares his fangs in disgust at the foolish gamble. “Imagine the havoc that asura and his minions will wreak on the weak if left unchecked. The Human Realm must be safeguarded during Kali’s dark reign.”

I can imagine the horror only too well as I have battled with evil all my life. But I am done with wars. 
I am done with defeat. I won’t waste another lifetime fighting.

“With due respect, my lord, I am not the man for this task.”

“You are not a man at all,” Yama thunders, fists shaking. “You are the son of Surya, the Sun God. Accept that you are no ordinary soul.”

I say nothing. I think nothing. I feel something but I squash it down.

Lord Yama’s thick black brows draw together. “Demon Kali will try to pervade every particle of good that exists in the Cosmos, beginning with the corruptible Human Realm. Once he obliterates all of humanity, he’ll set his sights on the Celestials. Kali will not stop until he’s destroyed our way of life. But you can stop him. You are light to his darkness. Do you understand now why you had to betray him? Your beloved humans need you, Karna. I need you. Our father believes in you. Claim your rightful place in the Cosmos.”

Impatiently, Lord Yama removes the iron medallion from his neck and holds it out. The vermillion sunstone glows as if its soul is on fire. Nay! It is my soul that is on fire.

Indescribable energy curls through me. I gasp, though not in pain. I shudder and feel myself grow large, grow hot. Was this rebirth?

I am strong, full-bodied and lethal once more. Then I roar as light bursts forth from my very core and I throb with glorious, blinding power. When I come to myself, my world has changed again. Bubbles of color shimmer all around me: cobalt and saffron, azure and rose. By karma! They are souls. Infinite floating souls.

“Behold the spectrum of life: the worthy, the notorious, the righteous and the sinners.” The God of Death’s soul was a worthy sapphire blue with a tinge of silver. “Your duty, should you choose to accept the office of the Soul Warrior, is to hunt down the red-souled asuras and crush them. Whatever you decide, I wish you a long and successful Celestial existence, Karna,” Yama booms out and vanishes into the purpling sky.

The parley has stunned me. The world of color holds me in thrall. I was dead. Yet, now I am not. A new path lies before me. Unwanted, unwelcome, I insist on principle. I close my eyes. Open them to stare at the medallion cupped in my hand—a golden-hued hand at once familiar and not—and know myself for a fool. I do want this. It’s what I am.

Bastard-born. Rebel. Son. Husband. Father. Warlord. And protector. I fist the talisman, buoyed by its concrete warmth. This is who I am.


I am the Soul Warrior.


★.•**•.★ Soul Warrior Book Blast ★.•**•.★ 
15th to 17th September, 2017

The Age of Kali is a series of mythic fantasy novels by international bestselling novelist Falguni Kothari. The first book of the series, Soul Warrior, introduces readers to a fictional law-governed Cosmos made up of heavenly, demonic and human realms and its protagonist, Lord Karna, the legendary guardian of the Human Realm, who is coerced into training six godlings into demon hunters against a rising demon army. The series arc interlocks into a war of domination between the Light and Dark forces of the Cosmos and the race to control the one soul capable of total cosmic annihilation, demi-god Karna's and Draupadi's secret child.


Get Your Copy from AMAZON




Praise for Soul Warrior:

"A beautiful exploration of fantasy and mythology, Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali) is the latest release from Falguni Kothari and by any stretch of the imagination she’s delivered an awesome story. Rich, enchanting, evocative, she effortlessly blends an ancient Indian epic and South Asian mythology with grace and quiet elegance to create the canvas upon which her miraculous world finds form.... Beautifully written and enviably imaginative, Soul Warrior proves an exemplary example of Fantasy Fiction. Definitely deserving of your attention it is recommended without reservation!"
   —Book Viral 

"I loved the writing which... hit that nice spot between being evocative and descriptive and still keeping the story moving....It has a huge cast of fascinating characters, a deep and rich world and definitely something I’m interested in following."
   —Fangs for Fantasy 

"I loved the way Ms. Falguni has shown an eye for the details scattered throughout the novel.... Will I recommend this book? Oh yes, and be assured you will grab the next one too just to know more about the Soul Warrior."
   —Global Asian Times 

"The plot is intriguing, much in the tradition of a modern thriller.... Precisely sketched and nuanced with quirky detail, the characters enrich the story they inhabit.... The vibrant characters in the multi-hued setting are the stuff superhero animation films are made of. Soul Warrior engrosses and enthralls. A thumping good read, I would say."
   —Of Prose and Poetry blog 



About the Author:


Falguni Kothari is a New York-based South Asian author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She’s published in India in contemporary romance with global e-book availability; Bootie and the Beast (Harlequin Mills and Boon) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! (Rupa & Co.), and launches a mythic fantasy series with Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali, #1)

I’m embarrassed to admit how many social media accounts I own :

Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Pinterest




Monday, 11 September 2017

The Deified

Beginnings are important for any story to give an overview of what is in store for the reader. I personally felt the start was jerky with sudden shifts and that is where I started losing the connection.

This book started off with one setting and suddenly there was an abrupt change. So, though majority of the story did revolve around what is described in the blurb yet the disconnect between introductory chapters made me lose my connect with the story. On the whole, the concept was interesting but the treatment to it could have been better.

There are portions that are brilliantly drafted yet there are other places that have loopholes. Yet, I am sure MJ will make it up for this in her next book. There are imageries and violence does play an active part in it. But due to breaks in narration and a muddled presentation of the central theme, the imageries were a bit jerky too.

There are a plethora of characters but they could have been better shaped. Even Jude is supposedly a character who had shades of antagonist. Yet, none of them truly stood out. Yet again, the concept per se could have got a lift with stronger characterization. They seemed fictional. A bit of real life traits would have been an add on.

To sum up, the story is readable. I completed it because MJ has put her heart and soul in penning it. And trust me, a lot of effort goes into writing a story and not everybody is brave enough to do that. My endeavour is not to let down a budding writer, I only wish to flag issues that I felt as a reader. And differences of opinions are always welcome. This was a story that had the potential and maybe a part two would bring in more clarity.

P.S - The opinions expressed are my honest views after reading The Deified.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Hey Doorman VIII

This is the first book in the Doorman series that I am reading. Hence, my opinion is purely based on this anthology only.

Yes, it is a collection of stories, or should I say real life experiences of a bouncer in a night club. Every job has tales that are worth narrating. Through this anthology John narrates his experiences as a bouncer.

Firstly, writing personal experiences is not easy. Kudos to John for not only attempting it but making it seem so interesting. This is a collection of tales hence John has chosen those experience which have either changed him, impacted his relationships or have a lesson to offer. And I must admit, his usage of humour to keep up the tempo of every storyline is commendable. There were a few swear words, but then, one does encounter such language in a night club. There are vivid imageries that crop up as and when the story narration continues. There is a smooth transition from story to another. There is sexual content and violence but these come along with the job of a bouncer, the flip sides of this job, occupational hazards.

Every job is dignified in its own right and what I loved about the entire collection is the subtle manner in which John has expressed pride in whatever he is doing. Alongside the tough exterior that John exhibits, he also portrays his more humane side. The way he gives importance to all relationships in his life, his dealings at the professional as well as personal level, and events in his life make for an interesting read. He has portrayed himself as he is and that is what actually matters.

To sum up, this collection is a must read for both its humourous content and the sheer fact that John has chosen to pen down his life experiences through the lens of his job. He has made the life of a bouncer seem interesting and has added a lot of dignity to it through his writings.

P.S - This is the eighth part in the series and there are seven others before this. Hey Doorman, John, I hope you continue writing because it is very encouraging to see the way you view your profession and are sharing your experiences. This review is my honest opinion after reading the anthology.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Dead Down East

I needed a story that would take my mind off a grim and dark tale I had just read and reviewed. Thankfully, this story helped me do just that.

Sometimes we come across characters who are totally out of luck and are so lovable that you feel like empathising with them throughout. The protagonist of this story, a private investigator, is just that. The plot revolves around an affable character and his tryst with the solving of a crime case. For the whats you need to read the story.

The writing is amazing. Carl has added loads of humour through one-liners and at the same time, he has retained the flavour of suspense throughout. There were some 'wow' moments and it was worth a five star but for its ending. Notwithstanding that, the manner in which the story has been narrated is quiet gripping. What is more interesting is the fact that throughout the narration there have been no jerks. The imageries are in required quantities. This book also makes for a convenient read since it is fast paced and not too lengthy.

The protagonist is definitely lovable. Along with him, there are a few other characters who support him throughout the story. Besides them, there are many other characters and I have a bit of an issue with them because their presence ended up making me feel that the story is a fiction. They make it difficult to draw real life conclusions.

To sum up, the story is quirky, a quick read and an out and out fun whodunit story. The narration is superb and antics of the protagonist is heart touching. A must read for those who want a crime story that is not run-of-the-mill kind.

P.S - Thank you Carl for a quirky story and for lightening my mood with your writings. This review is my honest opinion after reading the story.

Primogenito

There are some stories that would make me cringe and wish I could stop reading, yet I am not able to. This story is one of them. I loved to hate it and would have given it five stars but then try as I might I cannot because of the negativity it exuded.

The plot is dark and revolves around a family and its traditions. There are rebels within such families as well. But for the who, what and how you need to read the story. Trust me when I say, it is not going to be easy.

Hats off to you Greta for penning a story so dark and unputdownable at the same time. It is not easy to narrate a gripping tale that can make the reader cringe and squirm but continue reading. Amazing use of language. The author has used words to bring out raw emotions without going over the top. Apart from that, there is a tone of formality throughout. It might put off some readers but I felt it was yet another writing technique used. Imageries existed in galore and I wish they didn't because it means at least two sleepless nights for me. The ending is mindblowing and the twist is a master stroke. But then, whether there is going to be a sequel is something I am wondering.

The characters are amazing as well. There are very few characters in this story. You can count them on your fingertips. Yet, I never felt anybody being a useless add on. Each of them controbuted to the story. The emotions that they deficted, the pain, abuse, rape, agony, trauma, everything was expressed by these characters.

To sum up, such stories are generally not my cup of tea because they bring in a lot of negative emotions. However, this story was gripping and kept me hooked to it. I had to finish it though I wanted to quit it at times since I felt awful. Again kudos to the author because it is easy to evoke positive emotions but to stir up negative emotions is a talent not every writer can pull off. The story is superb and tugs your heartstrings in ways you cannot imagine.

P.S - Thank you Greta for bringing in a story of the First Borns or Primogenito to me. This review is my honest opinion after reading the story. I truly hope there is a sequel.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The Code Of Magic

Some books makes you believe in the beauty of magic. This is one such book.

The plot revolves around a pre-teen and his tryst with learning about magic. For details you need to read the book. And let me assure you, the storyline succeeds in subtly addressing the mind of a young boy. It is not easy to live with abusive parents and to remain determined inspite of a broken family is something that this story definitely teaches.

David weaves magic with his choice of words. The language is children friendly, hence this story can be read by any age group. The narration has no breaks or jerks and what actually makes it amazing is the twists and turns it introduces. The way the story takes a reader through an eventful journey, where every moment is thrilling, is something commendable. The storyline conjures up so many imageries in our minds. I felt I was watching a movie in my mind. And yes, I did feel involved as a reader. I felt I was silently present with the protagonist and was a part of everything that was happening around him.

Loved the way David crafted his protagonist. Alex not only took a reader through the storyline but it was he who brought in so many varied emotions in the readers. All the other characters justified their presence in the story as well. Kudos to the author for creating characters who are bound to leave an impact on minds and hearts.

To sum up, this story is amazing and excellently penned. A perfect must read if you are looking for inspiration. There is no age for learning and this story teaches you through a twelve year old that life is all about living, and living it well. This is a story that has a universal appeal and would make every reader feel happy in the end. What makes this story more endearing is the fact that it subtly hints thats that there is magic within us and its code is around us. We need to take time to understand and decipher the same to make our magic work. After reading Alex's story, every reader would start believing that when we seek magic within ourselves through our strengths we create magic around us that is positive and inspirational.

P.S - Thank you Clare for introducing me to the writings of David. He helped me discover the Code of Magic within me. This review is my honest opinion after reading the story.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Helper

There are stories that attempt to go the unconventional way. This story is one of them.

The plot revolves around Helpers, people who "Help" those emotionally distraught. Who these Helpers are, how their lives intertwine and what happens, are all questions that will get answered once you read this story.

The author has interwoven flashbacks and that is a high point of this story. It is not easy to incorporate flashbacks since there is a danger of losing out on narration. Yet another writing technique used has been narrating the story through a narrator. Again, if not used properly this technique could also have led to narration issues. Thankfully, the writing is so amazing that both these issues have been addressed. There are imageries and where I felt the author could have done a bit more justice is to descriptions. There were a few places where a bit more of elaboration would have added greater impact to the storyline.

The main protagonists and the other secondary characters have been etched out with all of them comtributing to the story. They emote, are as close to real life as possible and ensure the plot is never forgotten.

To sum up, this book is absolutely superb and worth reading. It gives me a feeling that the next time I read it I would be privy to a whole new perspective. And return to it I will. But yes, this is not a conventional book with a cliched plot. The story kind of grows on you as you read it. Hence, choose this book if you are into serious reading. If you are looking for a "read and forget" kind of story, then this book is not for you. You actually need to read it to believe.

P.S - Thank you MNS for a story that was like The Helper for me. Loved the unique concept and writing. My review is my honest opinion after reading the story.