Eight-year-old author Lavik Jain explores fantasy and mystery in debut book 'Alexandrian Knights'

Child prodigy Lavik Jain of Delhi is an author. His book Alexandrian Knights follows four friends, who, transformed into knights in a magical Rajasthani village, must solve puzzles and battle the Shadow Lord to save the world from darkness.
Kuldhara, an abandoned village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan
Kuldhara, an abandoned village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan

This year is all about young prodigies making their mark. From nine-year-old R Surya Prasad, a mountaineer from Andhra Pradesh to Chhattisgarh’s seven-year-old Armaan Ubhrani, famously dubbed the ‘Google Boy’, for solving 100 multiplications in 12 minutes and 28 seconds. Now, another rising star steps into the spotlight: eight-year-old Lavik Jain from Delhi, who has authored his first book Alexandrian Knights, published by Pirates’ Quignog imprint.

“I love to travel, and this is where I drew my inspiration for writing a book,” says Jain, who has already visited 10 countries. His book follows the story of four friends from the US—Alex, Mike, Max, and Felix, who go on an adventure to the village of Kuldhara in Rajasthan. This mysterious village has a magical temple that turns them into knights, each with their own special armour as they solve puzzles at various stages to finally fight against the Shadow Lord, “who wants to cover the world in his darkness”.

A fantasy world

Alexandrian Knights, not unlike the film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), resembles a game. It follows a similar storyline where four friends enter a game world as gaming characters, each with unique powers, battling through various levels to defeat the enemy—Russell Van Pelt.

Jain himself is a big fan of the fantasy world. However, when it comes to reading, he does not shy away from exploring other genres to fuel his imagination to inspire him to write things he has never seen. His top three favourites are Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kenny, and The Blue Umbrella and Roads to Mussoorie by Ruskin Bond.

“In my fantasy world,” Jain tells TMS “the skies sparkle with colours, the ground is made of see-through glass and stars shine below it. Often unusual creatures wander around.” Much like Jumanji, Jain’s fantasy world features old ruins with secrets that his characters love to explore.

“I love fantasies and fiction. The first story I ever wrote was about Justin Bieber’s missing sweater. I read it to my parents, and they loved it and encouraged me to write more,” he says. Apart from his parents, Jain often seeks advice from his English teacher. “When I finished the first few drafts of Alexandrian Knights, I took them to my English teacher. Her guidance really helped me shape my imagination into words,” he adds.

The Kuldhara quest

Born in the US, Jain grew up in Delhi. Any particular reason why his story is set in Rajasthan? He has an answer for that. “I wanted a setting for horror and mystery, so I searched online and found that Kuldhara is one of the world’s scariest places. A few weeks later, I was talking to a friend who visited Kuldhara and showed me pictures, which got me even more interested in that place,” he says.

So, how do the characters end up in Rajasthan, all the way from the US? The answer is simple: they, like Jain, are explorers.

They love to travel and explore the unknown. The story begins when the four friends gather at Felix’s place and find out about Kuldhara being one of the scariest spots in the world. “Excited by the mere mention of it, they manage to go to Rajasthan, sneak out late at night to explore the mysteries of Kuldhara,” he says.

When asked why he named his book Alexandrian Knights, Jain says he was “enchanted by the country’s colourful culture” when coming to India from the US. This made him curious about its history, and when he narrowed down the setting of his book to Kuldhara, he realised that it bore a resemblance to Alexandria—a city in Egypt “in terms of deep-rooted mystery, which inspired me to name my story ‘Alexandrian Knights’.”

For young storytellers

Writing for Jain is a medium to explore the unknown and create a world no one has ever seen. Though the process can be challenging, his English teacher’s support made it smoother. Jain also advises aspiring writers to share their stories with others to gain new perspectives and ideas.

“Those who want to engage in storytelling should start with something small, like writing a short story or even just jotting down thoughts in a journal,” he says. The most important lesson is to not aim for perfection but to have fun with it. With this spirit, Jain plans to introduce volume II of his book soon. “Here, the Shadow Lord will become even more powerful,” he says.

Alexandrian Knights is available on amazon.in at Rs 425

The Shadow Lord
The Shadow Lord

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