The cradle of death
Mythology continues its run of uninterrupted popularity and the newest offering, Yama’s Lieutenant from the immensely readable writer Anuja Chandramouli, will enthrall readers of every age group. Blending mythology and fantasy with a rich sweep of imagination, Chandramouli creates a terrifying world of demons and necromancers, which chillingly echoes with resonances of contemporary times.
The book begins with six-year-old twins Agni and Varuna, a devoted and inseparable pair. Varuna is getting ready to bury her dead goldfish; Agni in an attempt to comfort his sister buries the live goldfish with the dead one and the reader experiences the first uneasiness.
Next we know is that 24-year-old Agni Prakash, grief stricken by the death of his twin, is battling an araksha. He is assigned to fight the twisted forces that have broken free from Yama’s bondage and are on a rampage. Yama, the great god of death, is weakening and the fiendish necromancer Naganara, with his team of Narakamayas, dreams of ruling mankind.
The necromancer’s fiends are out to abduct the mortal woman who is destined to be Yama’s saviour, restoring him with the power of her love; and Agni has to find and reach her before them. To perform the mammoth task, Agni is helped by guardian angels Taravarsha and Dharami. Joining forces with Agni is Minothi, a Kritya with special powers of mass destructions. What follows is a full-blooded encounter with a Narakaya, followed by flight and mind-bending dream-like days spent in a castle amidst barren deserts. Meanwhile, dead Varuna has left behind her intriguing manuscript for a book. Excerpts from that reveal strange parallels to the unfolding incidents in Agni’s life.
The author’s writing is crisp and riveting. At no point does she falter in her conviction even as she creates mind-boggling scenarios for her fantasy creatures to inhabit. The multitude of creatures could have been confusing to the uninitiated, but she introduces them with intelligent spacing. A very adult slant is visible in tackling the matter of sex, which among other deviations includes hints of incest, all of which seem slightly out of sync with the fantasy world.
A vibrant and rambunctious read, Yama’s Lieutenant is as unputdownable as it gets.