The Rise of Sivagami written by Anand Neelakantan is inspired by the blockbuster movie Bahubali. It is common for a movie to be inspired by a book but a book inspired by a movie is rare though not entirely unheard of. Anand Neelakantan’s keen eyes saw a potential story in the character of Sivagami which has now taken a form of book.
A few years ago Anand Neelakantan with his first book Asura started a new trend where he wrote the narrative from Ravana’s point of view. The trend caught up and we as readers got to read many mythological books on lesser known and grey shaded characters. While reading The Rise of Sivagami I started having a feeling that Anand Neelakantan has once again started a new trend and we will get to read more such fantasy novels soon.
Coming to the book I would like to disclose that I haven’t seen any of the Bahubali movies. So all the characters and the world of Bahubali was entirely new to me. Of course one who have seen the movies will instantly connect with the characters and plot and will cherish the familiarity.
The Rise of Sivagami is not entirely the story of Sivagami. It more the story of an empire Mahishmathi which was reigning unchallenged for three centuries. But cracks have started appearing in this gigantic kingdom. Mahishmathi emipre is infected by treachery, scheming, plotting, inbreeding revolution, unrest among masses, incompetent heir, corruption. Among all these plot one of the story is that of Sivagami who also want to bring down the reigning empire.
It is more a plot driven story rather than character driven. There is a lot of action and external conflict in the plot which makes it a fast paced read. In fact just near the climax the story was racing and so was my heart with the expectation and in the anticipation that something big is going to happen and some big secrets were about to reveal and seekers will find some answers.
But dud nothing as such happens. I reach the last page of the book and closes it with frustration. Only thing which happens is that Sivagami accidentally rises to power and becomes a Bhoomipathi but at a cost. Well further will be known only in the next book of the series.
It might be a plot driven story but there are many characters in the story that after a certain point I just don’t feel like keeping a track. But to the author’s credit, each and every character mentioned in the story was well defined, characterized and has a part to play in the story. There are more negative and grey shaded characters in the book then the positive characters so its kind of feel gloomy while reading wondering who will bring justice at the end.
One character which appeared to be exaggerated and irritating to me was Kattappa. Slavery seems to be injected into his blood. His character just refuse to evolve. His slavery attitude was not good enough to save a life of an innocent woman. I was taken aback by his devotion for slavery. Definitely his character doesn’t seems to be inspiring in today’s circumstances.
The character which evolves was that of Prince Mahadeva. He was among the positive characters in the story and started more as a generous and kind hearted to become more confident and brave Prince. His and crown Prince Bijjala’s interesting rivalry was brewing in this book which is expected to blow up in the other books. He is also in love with Sivagami.
Now I have mixed feelings for Sivagami’s character. She is brave and intelligent but not witty enough to turn the situation in her favour. She is very secretive and doesn’t share her secrets or feeling with anyone. One of the reason why she was not able to get any help to decode the manuscript. There is a lot of scope in her character to evolve. Women character are never strong in Anand’s book.
There are many mysteries in the story none of them has been answered. Like, why Thimma left Sivagami in the Royal Orphanage, what treachery was committed by Sivagami’s father, secret and truth behind the manuscript which Sivagami’s father left for her, secret story of Brinhannala’s. The author seems to have left everything for the upcoming books in the series and The Rise of Sivagami was a build up. The real story will follow in the next book. Well this is what I am hoping.
While reading The Rise of Sivagami I kept recalling the first book Roll OF Dice in the Ajaya series. The concept seems to be similar. Same caste system, slavery, disrespecting and objectifying women, misery of children, rising unrest, violence and the game of dice in The Roll of Dice was also an integral part of Sivagami story as well. No justice prevails in any of the books of Anand Neelakantan. It leaves behind disturbing and depressing feelings. Long live evil seems to be the motto of the author.
The Rise of Sivagami could have been much better book. But I don’t want to complain as I read in one of the author’s interview that he finished the book in 100 or something days. He seems to be in rush to finish off the first book so that it’s release could coincide with the release of the second part of the movie. But no where in the book I felt that it was written in the hurry. Writing a book with 500 pages in 100 days is a commendable job.
It was overall a good read but too much has been left unanswered which obviously becomes the story line for the rest of the book in the series.
I think that’s why JK Rowling is considered to be a born and great story teller as there was always a new story and adventure in each of her Harry Potter book. Each of her book has an conclusive end and doesn’t carry on in the next book.