WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
I am an ardent lover of the mythological fiction genre. Recently, I have noticed that many authors have started experimenting with and within this genre. A recent example is Kalki, which is a book that weaves a fascinating tale around the prophesied 10th Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Another example is the book Semmanthaka: The Second Quest, which is the book which I am reviewing here. Semmanthaka takes a uniquely fresh approach while weaving a tale around the legend of the famous gem Semmanthaka.
What is Semmanthaka? And what is its story?
Semmanthaka is a legendary gem which has the ability to produce 8 “bharas” (1 Bhara = 96kg) of gold every day. Naturally, a very successful treasure hunter Stalin Malhotra has his eyes on it. He contracts the famous marine archaeologist Dr. Balaan and his assistant to find and retrieve the stone for him. Stalin has in his possession an ancient manuscript which verifies the existence of the stone. Thus, begins a quest which will take Dr Balaan and his assistant Yogi all around India in a bid to uncover the mystery around the stone. They will soon be in a race against time to save humanity and our Mother Earth.
How is the plot?
The plot of “Semmanthaka: The Second Quest” is gripping and engaging. The frequent changes in the timelines and locations induce a sense of thrill in the book thus making it a fast-paced read. I loved how the author has concocted several interesting sub-plots and woven them into the central theme of the book – the quest for Semmanthaka. Several interesting characters have equally interesting backstories which again make the plot an engrossing one.
Are the characters good enough?
The characters though very good by themselves pale in comparison to the compelling story. The plot frequently manages to overshadow the characters. This is not essentially a bad thing, especially not in this book because the entertainment quotient of the book more than makes up for the lack of dynamic and strong characters. Dr Baalan, Stalin, Guruji were a few characters whom I would have loved to see more of. Other characters like Jarra Baba and the three Yadavas were very aptly depicted and I simply loved the way their backstories ran.
The writing style of the author
The author, no doubt, has a lot of potential. I found every page of the book equally fascinating and compelling. This by any standards is no mean feat. The narration and the story got me completely hooked right till the very end. The author effortlessly experimented with the themes of mythology and fantasy and came out with a total entertainer. Furthermore, I also enjoyed how ancient, medieval as well as modern Indian history is smoothly incorporated in just under 200 pages. Penning such a gargantuan saga in under 200 pages definitely speaks a lot about the writing skills of the author. In my humble opinion though, there was a scope for improvement too. The writing could have done with a little more finesse and the narration could have been a little less random.
What about the climax?
The climax of the book is good though I believe it could have been better. There was that element of unpredictability and surprise in it but I felt it was a bit rushed. Also, there were too many new characters which were introduced in the last few pages. This seemed unnecessary and a bit out of place. Even though there was scope for improvement, I think overall the climax gave the story a befitting end and did justice to the huge build-up that preceded it.
What did I not like?
The only major issue that I had with “Semmanthaka: The Second Quest” was its cover. It doesn’t do justice to what lies inside the book and looks quite unappealing. A better cover would definitely draw the interest of potential readers and contribute to the book’s success.
The book deserves stellar ratings in the entertainment quotient. There is just so much action packed in those 180 odd pages that there is no way a reader will be able to put the book down until they get to the very end of it. I personally loved every single page and therefore I rate the book four out of five stars in the entertainment quotient.
Pick it up if
Pick this book up if you enjoy Ashwin Sanghi type reads (Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key etc). “Semmanthaka: The Second Quest” has an extraordinary story to tell and it combines mythology, fantasy and mystery in a compelling way. If this sounds interesting, by all means, go ahead and pick the book up.
Skip it if
Skip the book only if religion and mythology do not interest you. The book has been written with utmost devotion to Lord Krishna and might not appeal to people who do not have an interest in Hindu religion.
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