Book Review - The Rise Of Sivagami

Bahubali shook the nation like no other movie has done; carrying the franchise forward, SS Rajamouli has decided to create a book series filling the details and carrying the story forward. The first book of the series – The Rise of Sivagami – goes back into the story, before the time of Bahubali, providing a surprising background, a background which will provide motive, passions and flesh to the main characters in the movie Bahubali. This is a first of its kind association between a film presentation and a well known author; kudos to Team Bahubali for thinking of this

Bahubali - Before The Beginning


THE NEGATIVES
That said, at the outset, let me place on record the one or two negatives of this book, even before I lay out the basic plot; the crude and, to my eyes, ugly use of vulgarity and sexually explicit narratives in parts – for example the crude description of female body parts of captive slaves – has left a highly negative impression on my mind. These scenes seem forced, at least to me, and have no place in the story whatsoever. Due to this one reason alone, I reduce the rating of this book by 2.5 stars as a punitive measure. I rate this book 1 or 1.5 stars only. `

Vulgarity has no place in a good fiction {or non-fiction for that matter} book; especially since this is meant for general reading. If the above was only one instance, I would have ignored it; but I happened to notice it in other places, which was ugly to be honest. The net result was I was so disgusted by this out-of-place stuff that I stopped reading the book for a time. I don’t want to turn to a mainstream book for sexually explicit stuff – and yes, I count even one paragraph of nudity, vulgarity as the same as sexually explicit material, and call them the same!

Second negative is the story – surprise, surprise. Yes, the story: it is way too complex. I constantly found myself jumping back to the Dramatis Personae section trying to figure out who is who. This got irritating, after a point. The flaw isn’t that the story is engaging – it is engaging, without a shade of doubt. The problem is that the current book is way too long. When you have created such a vast scope, the presentation matters one hell of a lot-  and this is where the book fails big time. It could have been shortened & subdivided into more books, making for easy understanding. The net result is that an excellent story has been made less attractive by the execution. Or a simple frequent mention of who is who would definitely have helped!

THE PLOT
Coming to the plot, this is not your rapid action fast-moving thriller. This is a story of political intrigue, back-stabbing, jealousy, plotting, planning, human drama, naked ambition & desire. This book tells the story of the Mahishmati empire before the events in the movie – specifically, it tells the background to the main characters Sivagami & Kattappa. Saying more would spoil your fun, so I wont say anything else. Read it for yourself to know more.

THE POSITIVES
The positives are also many, to be perfectly honest. The story is slow-moving, by and large. It has rapid sections throughout the book – that is true; but the overall impact is a slow moving tale. This isn’t a negative – the plot does not lend itself to pace. The plot is intense – so is the narrative. Given the intrigue and interplay, the slow and intense narrative style draws you into the story, and absorbs you. Once you get used to its stupendous scope – the events play out before your eyes.

The second positive is the scope – magnificent, and grand; every bit as grand as the movie. This is thoroughly logical – you are talking of a massive and powerful empire here; the scope has to be grand and massive to be believable. And that it is – beyond a shade of doubt. The third positive is the story itself; given the nature of the empire, all the events come across as natural – the intrigue, the plotting, the powerplay, the injustices, twists & turns. The fourth positive is the characterization – the author has provided for a vivid, detailed character background for all relevant characters, making the reading almost like a life event – almost like you are there. The full details on every aspect help you relate to the story, the environment, all of it – placing you in Mahishmati.

THE CONCLUSION

All in all, stupendous! My heart aches, for the needless vulgarity in some small parts and slightly lax presentation  is forcing me to rate this book as 1 star, when it deserves 4! If you can ignore the small vulgar aspects, this is easily a classic book – unmissable for the reasons given. {To me, even nudity is Vulgar, period. Those are my non-negotiable prerequisites while rating. There is no repeat no place for any nudity in a fiction novel, regardless of genre. Do we discuss such things in family? We don’t. That is my only barometer of judgement; can you talk these things to your family?  And If we don’t, there zero place for nudity in good books}. Despite this, the book is one of a kind - go ahead and read it. Even I, despite my criticism & objections, did enjoy the book overall.  This is an intriguing, fascinating and involved plot – you will enjoy reading it! 

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