“King’s Fall, Book One of The Moryan Chronicles, weaves together myth, magic and fragments of history to tell a story of what might have been.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Aditya Wig’s debut novel flags Tolkien with the title and proceeds to mix history with magic to create a new kind of reality. He opens the novel dramatically with a king’s assassination by sorcerers and the beginning of the Kali Yug. There are two groups of sorcerers pitted against each other – one the sorcerers of the super secret Temple in Dandakaranya and the other a pair of sorcerers whose antecedents are unknown but who seem to harness the forces of Kali Yug.
Set against this backdrop are the humans, the Morya king Arjun and his brother Karna and the Nanda princess Meera. All three of them have the ability to use mantras, though Arjun less so than his brother who has trained in the Temple.
All three are aware of their status as kshatriyas, and are determined to uphold the traditions of their warrior class. Wig uses medieval kingdoms and throws in history – Alexander the Great’s invasion for example to create a world that might almost be real.
There are certain discrepancies which can be forgiven since this is a fantasy – for example, potatoes weren’t part of any medieval Indian diet. They were discovered in Peru and brought to India by the Portuguese as the Marathi batata and today have become a staple. For the rest, Wig keeps the sweep general. The Greeks, referred to as the Yavanas are demons in their own way and Arjun defends Taxila shoulder to shoulder with magic and the famous ruler Porus who told Alexander to treat him like a king. Porus’ elephants are missing in the combat, but magic more than makes up for it.
A little more depth in the character would have helped – the sorcerer trained Karna is aggressive and yob youth rather than prince but Wig realizes that does not make for a romantic hero and quick shifts his focus. Arjun is the typical ruler of dharma battling dark forces that he knows nothing about. Sorcerers Kashi and Janaki are wise, powerful and in Janaki’s case overly secretive and malignant, matched by Chandra from the dark side. But then who knows which the dark side really is, since Wig keeps his hand well covered.
Adding to the levels of magic is a Buddhist monk who meditates as opposed to the sorcerers who go into trances .
It is an epic tale of combat with lots of armour, mysterious swords forged from darksteel and a princess’ swayamvar thrown in for good measure. Wig is very clear that he intends to make it a series of Moryan chronicles so he abandons the reader at a cliffhanger point. How he intends to merge the levels of history, sorcery and religion together in his coming books can only be speculated. However fans of action fantasy will find themselves with a new source of entertainment.
Added 19th March 2016