Reviewed in India on 12 September 2018
It's been time since I last read a reinterpretation of a mythological story. Especially one built from The Mahabharata, one of the grandest epics of the world, the greatest—of course—and a personal favourite too. So, when I got a review copy of The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty by Kavita Kané, I was thrilled. I'd heard about the author around my connections and heard about her other works too; and I appreciated the way she was pulling up and putting down the characters which were not given much light in original storyline, and women characters above that. With this excitement, and the “About the Author” section in the beginning, I built up hope to find within this, a great, grand narrative. And man was I wrong? No, it isn't that bad as you think it is, but it isn't that good (with one extra o) either.
So first let's start with the cover. They say—though it's a cliché —don’t judge a book by it's cover. And rightly so. The cover is the most beautiful thing about the book. Followed closely by the font, then the plot, then the narrative, and then I'm descending order goes setting, characters, and dialogues, among other constituents of the story. The cover features a lady. Ornamented. There's a lot of Golden and blue in it. Pointing out half of the story right there. Politics (it's where you get that much gold), and the fishes make the blue clear. And then there's an ornament on her wrist, which has a fish in it. The cover is attractive, and you might pick it, if you see it somewhere around. Out of seer curiosity. Then you will turn it over. Like a good reader does, to read the blurb. “Excellent!” You will think, turn the book back, open it, smell, and then start. Only if it were that simple.
The title is apt. Matches in a way with her other titles. Gives a woman character and adds a feminine role of a queen. People acquaint with the grand epic, will guess the character at once: who's it gonna be?
Down to the index. Chapters are not numbered, though every chapter is named. The only problem I had with the “contents” section was that it had too many ‘Thes’. In fact, except the “Prologue”, “Epilogue”, and the last chapter, every heading carries a ‘The’ in it. Though it's well justified. Everything was too singular in the epic storyline, and so even a small action becomes grand when it gets in the affinity of the grand narrative, but still, there are some things that become a grass blade in your eyes, and this was. No offence to the author!
I won't go much into the story, dialogues, or the plot, to make this review spoiler free. But I'll try to be just, and give you quite a clear insight in the book, so that you can, well, get your money's worth. Or your expectations’.
First comes the plot. Decent. The story has been well thought over. The authoress has taken liberty and invented some brilliant scenes. And at times, when you are not busy getting disappointed, you'll quite like it, and see the scenes getting enacted (not like a movie, but like a school play), but anyway, you'll like it. Though it could have been much better.
The thing about the story is a bit complicated. The authoress rushes things at time, and ridiculously slows at others. But most of the times, it's decent. You'll not be much away from a bestseller vibe, when you're going through it. Though I'd like to add a bit here that Ganga is a goddess, a river goddess, not a nymph. Nymph is a guardian, and a Greek concept. Don't mix your mythologies, unless you've a good reason. Vasus are gods, with small g, for only three gods in Indian mythology deserve to be given a capital G address.
But what irks and troubles me, as a reader and a reviewer, is the language, which, I am too sorry to say, but it really, sucks, at times though, not always. It lacks the experience which the authoress should have shown by this time. It's easy, the language, I mean, but there are faults crawling like maggots all over it. At times words stand alone, when the meaning intended gets only partly delivered by the character's actions. She could have built a momentum in the “Prologue” itself, but she quite rushed the things there itself. It felt like a reel fast forwarding itself. Though the scene could've still worked, but whatever lustre a good dialogue could've blessed it with, was snatched away with the carelessness imparted in this section. A story is not always about a good story, at times, all it takes a bad voice in the character’s mouth to turn off the reader. There are just so many adverbs in voice tags. You don't get that feeling when you roll off those lines from your mouth, but the authoress commands you to think those lines to be persuading or pleading or threatening. Every character seems to have the same voice. There's a lot of exaggeration done, or it's just that the characters have gone into a daily soap mode and become overreacting. People reason when asked a question, but dialogues seem more mechanic, than subjective. And it seems as it the writer is forcing the characters to speak in a way, and that makes them dead. There are words which should've been replaced with better options, e.g., the word ‘bankrupt’ could've been very well replaced with ‘broke’, because then there were no banks and thus this word doesn't looks good on chronology. While conversing, we generally use contractions. When one reads the dialogues silently, it won't bother them, but once the story becomes alive, and you start speaking the dialogues aloud to listen them while you imagine yourself in, you lose it. And yes, the word HOT has been repeated so many times, that I had to look back to confirm that I'm not reading something from Fifty Shades series.
The action is good. But a rage repressed doesn't make you mutter, the tang of malice, or sarcasm, would still show in your speech, which was, well, absent. The characters lack swagger at times. Concept of Femme Fatalé, though introduced, is not built up much. Satyavati in the beginning few scenes seems to fall for the lecherous man, I.e., a sage, just like that. And even after all that hard work (which would've made her muscles rip) she succumbed to his lust (beg was another bad selection, she was obviously getting raped).
Characters are either one dimensional or two dimensional, and still paper dolls. They fail to act as humans because of the reasons stated above.
I'll give this story 3 stars, if that sort of rating is asked from me. Though, a piece of written literature can only be judged comparatively, and this one is, for sure, better than some of the books on the stall, but there are a lot of books to top this. And, there are a lot of options in mytho-fantasy section, which I could be reading instead of this one.
All this book lacks is a attention, and is wanting of a rewriting. That set. It can work better, otherwise, it will remain on the shelves, as just another book, and a waste of paper.
This copy was given to me by Writersmelon, in exchange of an honest review.