Usha Narayanan spins a magical tale of myth and imagination while looking to answer these questions and recreates for modern readers the story of one of the most intriguing gods—Kartikeya.
Mythology is a tricky subject and more tricky is its retelling as if you do not know the tale properly and cannot narrate it in a gripping way then the reader will not find it interesting. However, it is just Usha’s cup of tea. The book is the story of Kartikeya told in a new poetic way. It also focuses on lesser-known characters like the demon brothers of Surapadma, Ajamukhi- sister of Surapadma, Devasena- daughter of Indra and the wife of Kartikeya, Valli- second wife of Kartikeya and finally the most beautiful animals and birds of the forest who love Kartikeya.
The best part of the book is its beauty in language. I felt that the lucid vocabulary of the author makes the book, truly a “masterpiece”. One cannot put down the book if you have started once. although the book is of 300 pages. You would need at least two days if you are a fast reader- for completing the book, for you need to understand each line along with its deep thoughts and beautiful imagery. Until the third chapter, you do not know who the real “Soul-Stealer” is, and then again the suspense turns until the end when you discover Kartikeya’s battle with him and a mysterious and dangerous plant, ties all the threads perfectly, and creates a perfect climax for the tale.
I have read at least three to four magnificent books on this enigmatic god- KARTIKEYA. What makes Narayanan’s retelling different from others is its depth, the addition of folk tales and stories from lesser known Puranas and other epics. She is clever, she mixes myth with imagery very beautifully which is what sages like Valmiki and Vyasa and even Debroy do. Narayanan’s book will make you crave more and more from her, for her books are a delight to those who feel mythology is beautiful. The beautiful language and emotions with which she writes is a testimony of her skill and the book promises to be a hit. This book is truly destined to be the literary find of the year.
You will read new tales like the story of Devasena and the story of Ajamukhi and even Valli–all of whom are powerful women. Another perk of the book is its philosophy. You would see a lot of beautiful ideas of philosophy hidden within the tales. The way the battles and the other scenes are explained truly captures the full attention of the reader. The ending is just mesmerizing, making the book an intriguing tour-de-force and a perfect mix of myth and romance. Each story deals with a particular rasa of love and each one has some message to impart. The author has penned down the book with such sheer perfection that I would not hesitate to call the book a “masterpiece”.
Amalgamating fiction with mythology and giving the novel a modern look, the author has done an amazing job. She has offered both sacred stories in the form of short incidents and an intriguing perspective of various characters. This is truly entertaining and insightful mythology. You read this book and can tell how much research would have gone behind it. This can be an ideal reference to a reader who wants to know about the protagonists’ journey. One will start appreciating the protagonist more after going through this work.
Overall the book is in simple words a “masterpiece”. It is a perfect tapestry of myth and imagination. imaginative. intriguing. intense. I would recommend the book to all mythology lovers and to everyone who loves fiction
Kartikeya-- a boy with godly powers and charisma was a creation of Devi Parvati and Shiva's pure unite. The birth and upbringing of kartikeya shatters the myth that all the godchildren are born with silver spoon, as he was abandoned immediately after birth for his own good. The interlinking of events and re-telling the story which we have heard before in a manner that it appears to be fresh, this is what Usha Narayanan has been doing in her every book. The narration demands immediate attention as it sums up a great deal with mythology and fiction. A few things that I would like to list down about this book: A very less known god child, kartikeya and his various forms make the story more appealing. The narration makes the war sequences come alive. The characters are so well defined that you can almost see clouded-shy eyes of Devasena. (wife of Kartikeya) Beautifully embedded with the lesser known facts and with lucid style of narration this book is a definite one time read for mythology lovers!
Usha Narayanan is my "go-to" author when it comes to Indian mythology, and with her latest release she has proven again that she can bring ancient epics to colourful life.
Kartikeya is introduced as a child, cast out and I trouble, unloved because he seems so vastly different. It is his very difference, though, which makes him triumph in the end. As such, this isn’t just a retelling of old myths but also the story of an “underdog” who dares to be different, comes into his own and finally finds his rightful place in the greater scheme of things. All of us who have at any time in our lives felt inadequate, unloved, purposeless, self-conscious or like a weird outsider will rejoice in Kartikeya’s ultimate success and perhaps find it a bit easier to make a leap of faith and reconcile themselves with the fact that everyone is unique and everyone deserves love.
It was fascinating to learn about the hero’s origins and in how many ways he was connected to others and to the epic battle between the devas and the asuras. I enjoyed discovering his softer side full of kindness, faith and perseverance, a side which made him show love to animals and thus ensured their support. It was also intriguing to see how he handled the dilemma of two wives, one celestial and one earthly, and how the two sides of his character found their perfect matches in these two wonderful women. While I know woefully little about the actual stories behind this cleverly woven, entertaining tale, all the protagonists came alive for me with their many motivations and personalities. And as I live in Sri Lanka, I whooped with glee when realization dawned that Kartikeya a.k.a. Skanda is none other than the deity Kataragama revered by Sri Lankans. It was lovely to see that the author had paid tribute to this part of his life too.
As with her previous books, the author managed to captivate me from page 1 and had me going through an emotional journey alongside the many vividly portrayed characters, rooting for the brave Kartikeya.
Kartikeya And His Battle With The Soul Stealer is a mythological fiction written by Usha Narayanan & published by Penguin India. The author had a successful career in advertising, radio & corporate communications before becoming a full-time author. When she is not travelling, writing or editing, she reads everything from thrillers to the Puranas.She has written several books.
The story starts with the classic enmity between the gods & demons. The Asuras or demons did everything they could to get a boon from the Trimurti. As always power corrupts & they start to torture people on Earth, their powers were so strong that even the gods feared them. Surapadma was one such fierce demon among them. On the other side a child is being nurtured by wild animals on a hill, despite all the care that he got from them he pines for someone like him. As his parents came for him, his true destiny is revealed. But will he be able to restore harmony on Earth & get rid of Surapadma? Get this book here to know,
Mythology has been one of my favorite genres & since I have read the author’s work before too, I knew that this book will surely be a recipe for a hit. I believe Kartikeya hasn’t really been explored well enough in mainstream literature yet but luckily this book breaks that charm. The author’s research into the topic is well showcased as it has been seamlessly incorporated into the story. I possibly can’t find anything to critique except a small thing that the pace could’ve been better. The language is simple, I love the cover & the title.
I have read "Prem Purana' by the author earlier and have loved her style of writing. I am peronally very fond of mythological tales that tell the narration of the stories without fictionalizing the characters. I had heard the various names of kartikeya but had never known the stories behind these names. This book is such a detailed and engaging narration of the life and adventures of Lord Kartikeya. The author has this uncanny ability to create such a vivid imagery of the events in our heads that the reading of the book becomes a sort of visual treat. Its an unhurried leisure narration but still keeps you hooked on to the story. Despite the curiosity of wanting to know the complete story of Kartikeya, I still wanted to savour the book slowly bitt by bit enjoying the vivid descriptions of the scenes, nature and events. I was surprised to know about so many new things, as to why do apes not have a tail, Why did Kartikeya choose the peacock as his vahana and why does he have six faces, what are the significance of all his names?
Also was heartening to read so many current life issues and relavant messages about them just slipped into the narrative without being glaringly preachy but just felt equally relevant in both time periods. This book ensures to be a delightful read even for grown up children who read chapter books. I highly recommend this book to all those who enjoy reading Indian Mythology. Also if someone wants to start reading Indian Mythology this book could be a very good starter into the genre too. Waiting to read more works of the author.
Mythology especially Indian Mythology is open to deep research and vast interpretation, but what makes it interesting is the way it is retold/ reinterpreted or simply narrated. The success of a mythological narrative lies (1) in its ability to hold the reader till the end and (2) churn out something new. Old wine in new package may not hold the reader’s interest, but new additions/ new insights in the form of incidents, characters and their significance that were till now either hidden or not accorded their due importance, definitely have the ability to draw the thirsty mind to it. So if I were to look at ‘Kartikeya and his battle with the Soul Stealer’ from this perspective I’d definitely give a 👍 . Author Usha Narayanan has not only managed to hold the reader in me engaged till the end, but has also given glimpses into some truly interesting incidents and characters that are a part of the protagonist’s story. We’ve had passing references to many of them in various books, but here we see them play a greater role in taking the story forward. With them unfold many stories and incidents hitherto unknown to a vast majority.
Replete with various emotions like love, anger, passion, empathy and jealousy, the book takes us on a journey through hills and valleys, heaven and earth and also introduces us to the adorable side of animals and birds as well as the vile side of the Devas and Asuras. Another thing that struck me was Indra’s arrogance and selfishness compared to Surapadma’s selflessness. While Indra has just his throne and his supremacy on the three realms in mind while engaging Kartikeya to take on the Soul Stealer, Surapadma’s aim is to avenge the death of his brothers and sons. While Indra is least worried about the burden he is placing on little Kartikeya’s shoulder, Surapadma and in fact his brother Tharaka too, hesitate to go headlong and engage the boy in the battle. They are ready to allow him to bow out of the field with grace.
Twists, turns and engaging banter along with some hilarious and some somber moments present a unique experience.
Characterization is another strong aspect of Author Usha Narayanan’s writings and here too she has not failed her readers. One can’t help but live out their emotions. While one feels distressed along with Kartikeya on feeling abandoned and lonely, one also can’t but feel distraught and angered as does Parvati on having her passionate moment with her Lord abruptly interrupted, and her ‘child’ stolen. Forlorn and pinning with Devasena for her Lord’s return, and jealous and angry as Valli at having to share her Muruga, one can’t but help empathize with both as well as stay neutral when they confront each other. Such is the strength of the narrative. Shiva too springs a surprise. The fiery God exhibits his soft side here and there. We hardly come across this side of the God in the stories/ novels making it to the market today.
Ever since I heard the story, as a little girl, of Ganesha and Kartikeya having to go around the world, I felt a little sorry for Kartikeya. I wanted to learn more about him but surprisingly there was nothing much that I could lay my hands on.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Usha Narayanan came up with her book, “Kartikeya”. The minute it was out it was on my To Be Read list.
And I was not disappointed. The book is so enthralling that I hated putting it down even to attend to my chores. I just wanted to finish all my work and rush back to the book.
Within the pages of the book, I discovered a joyous, loving compassionate god. One who was a warrior but hated the destruction that war always leaves behind. One who was so loved by humans and animals and birds alike, that they were willing to lay down their lives for him. A child so lovable that everyone wanted to claim him for their own; which is why he ends up with multiple sets of parents.
Though I have always had a soft spot for Ganesha, I totally tumbled into love with Kartikeya helped by the fact that Usha Narayanan’s style of writing makes the characters alive and vibrant. Even the asuras are so real that one can feel the fear and despair as they wreck their havoc.
Since I had known so little previously about such a wonderful god, once I finished the book I asked my friends in all my groups what they knew about Kartikeya. Like me, most of them knew hardly anything at all.
However one of my friends said that he was their “Ishta Devata” or favourite God. So if you want to know more about this son of Shiva, this book by Usha Narayanan is a must read. And who knows, maybe you too will decide like me, that Kartikeya is your “Ishta Devata”!
The story is well-written, in terms of the language, and I liked that more than Usha's previous books.
In terms of its pace, I thought that while the rest of the story is paced well and take only enough time to build Kartikeya's story, the end seemed too long to me. Agreed that it was a huge battle being fought, but I thought some parts of it could be toned down a little too ensure that reader interest is not lost.
The many brilliantly written twists in the end do make up for some of it though.