Book Review: Ramayana - Book 3 - The Game of Life, Stolen Hope - Shubha Vilas


A couple of months ago, I got an email asking me if I would be interested in reviewing Book 3 in Shubha Vilas' epic rendition of the Ramayana. Now, seeing as I had already read book 2, I agreed willingly. If you've read my previous review you know I was less than impressed with the last book. Somehow, I felt it was a little too preachy and didn't really add any value to the original. So was I happy with the third? Read on to know...

First off, this book starts exactly where the last book left off and that's something I felt happy about. However, for some reason, it didn't feel like an abrupt or a disjoint start and the story flowed. This book deals with Rama and company travelling through the Dandakaranya forest. The story about how this place found its name grips you right from the start. The trio meet some interesting people and frankly for a person who's primary source of the Ramayana story was the classic television show (my aunt is a huge fan and followed it religiously) this book offers some very interesting insight into the intricacies of the story.

We meet many important characters as we progress through the story and the author does a good job of fleshing out the characters and makes you like most of them. Thankfully, this book has fewer footnotes and it seems that they are a lot more relevant this time round. I remember almost completely skipping over them when I read the last book but this time they seemed to be a lot more relatable. This book also contains the infamous abduction scene and I love how the author has protrayed it. Especially the bit where Jatayu tries to save Sita was by far my favorite part of the book. It is brave, heartbreaking and a evocative story of martyrdom. Even when you feel for Sita and worry about the horrors that lay ahead, you are captured by the love and devotion that someone who met them but a few times shows. This is what true leaders are, after all, and somehow this part was relevant even now.

The book ends with the heroes, now bereft of the company of their guiding light Sita, searching for a way to bring her back and advancing towards the Vanar kingdom. Yes, I'm certainly excited to see how the author deals with this particular part of the story. Honestly, for me, Rama and Sita have never been a couple to emulate. They seem too flawed and bound by traditions when they could have changed things for the better because of their position, atleast in my personal opinion anway. However, this book brings forth the good characters instead of these two. While they may not be my person favourites (and yes, i'm being rather controversial here) there are so many characters in the story I never took the time to think about before. Yes, there is Jatayu as I already mentioned who is someone I truly admire after reading the book. At the same time, there are numerous others, who seek to inspire and guide you and I think I finally realise that these are the reason why Ramayana is such an epic.

In my opinion, this is a book you should definitely get. As long as you know the overall story, you wouldn't even need to buy the other books although that's recommended if you like to maintain continuity.

Name: Ramayana: The Game of Life – Stolen Hope
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publisher: Jaico
Price: Rs. 299
My Rating: 3.5/5

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