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Five Mythological Fictions to read this summer

Palace of illusions
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A retelling of Mahabharata from Panchaali’s (Draupadi) point of view. It is an emotional retelling of the epic that we grew up watching on our television screens. The author has also included other significant female characters previously confined to the margins in the conventional versions. The book spans her life starting with her birth, a childhood spent at her father’s palace with her brothers, trials of a complicated marriage, subsequent exile, her friendship with Krishnaand the last journey to heaven.

This book gives us a fiery female redefining in the form of Panchali. An addition to the world of warriors and gods. 

Tale of the Vanquished
by Anand Neelakantan

Narrated from the perspective of Ravana and Bhadra, the Asura. The ancient Asura empire remains under the heel of the Devas-fragmented in warring kingdoms. In desperation, the Asuras look up to a young saviour – Ravana. Gathering hopes that a better life awaits them under a new rule, ordinary people like Bhadra, our narrator, decide to follow the young leader. Preceding the telling of Ramayana as we know, the book highlights the tales of the vanquished Asuras.

This refreshing perspective of a commoner amongst godmen will make you check your biases and prejudices.

The Pregnant King
by Devdutt Pattanaik

The story of a childless king- Yuvanashva, who mistakenly drinks a potion meant for his wife and gives birth to a son. Set in the timeline of Mahabharat, this is the tale of the king who is the epitome of ‘masculinity’, who after giving birth longs to be addressed as ‘mother’ by his son, Mandhata. Characters in this book also make chatty references to the lives of their more famous contemporaries in Hastinapur.

This commentary on conventional gender roles will leave you with a lingering thought about the paradoxes and ambiguities of gender and life. 

Churning of the Ocean
by Amruta Patil

This book is the first in a series-based on the Parva (first section) of the Mahabharata. An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata from the point of view of the holy Ganga. The story begins at the beginning with the birth of the creation: source of all creatures and concludes with the birth of the Pandava and Kaurava princes.

This tale of the cycle of life gives a fresh interpretation to the age old tales. 

The Immortals of Meluha
by Amish Tripathi

The first installment in the Shiva trilogy. The story begins with Shiva, who upon the invitation of the Suryavanshi king of Meluha emigrates with his tribe from Tibet to Meluha on the banks of Saraswati. Shiva, who is the leader of Gunas, soon finds himself inextricably linked with an ancient prophecy of the fabled guardian Neelkanth.

This book poses a moving thought. Maybe Gods were once human beings, and it was their deeds in human life that made them god amongst men.  

Spend your summer weekends with a glass of refreshing lemonade and a gripping paperback and spend hours in the world of make-belief.

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