Book Review: Warrior
Author: Olivier Lafont
Publisher: Penguin India
Genre: Fiction, mythology
Rating: Four stars
Released in November 2014
“We slew our Gods long ago, Saam, in a bid to become gods ourselves. No deity will adopt one as me-but I thank you for the intention of your wish.”
The shadowed prince turned, the edges of the cloak stretching ahead in black spears as he slipped away swiftly along the deck of the ship.
A tale of mythology that starts at frenetic pace, like the blizzard coiling and setting forth a thunderous adventure, that sweeps the readers off their feet. Warrior could well have been a ‘B-world’ period epic sending the adrenaline rush at an octane level, making it a cult film. Why not? After all, author Olivier Lafont is an actor who played Kareena’s fiancee in Raj Kumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. The book, ‘Warrior’ redefines fantasy and real life where the hero, Saam, has a battle against time to save humanity from the clutches of danger lurking. The book is a complete page turner and heart pounding stuff where mythical characters are depicted in a way close to reality replete with betrayal, danger, love and, of course, demi-gods. Very few books can boast this inherent quality of starting with a bang and maintaining the tempo till the climax with thrilling action. Warrior spurns a tale where mythical figures has a perfect marriage with city dwellers and makes us have a re-think in the way we perceive myth personas. At one glance, simply breath-taking. I couldn’t it down for all the perks in the world.
In Mumbai, driven to its knees by a merciless blizzard, Saam the watchmender is cornered into an intolerable position. As Shiva’s only earthly demigod child, it falls upon him to stop his indomitable father. Bred to war, the son of destruction, Saam rides with six extraordinary companions into the horror of a crumbling world to face Shiva. He is forced to join hands with Ara, his half-brother he can never fully trust, and take with him his own mortal beloved, Maya, on this desperate attempt to stop the End of Days. But his path is littered with death, danger and betrayal. Interweaving mythology, epic adventure and vintage heroism, this enthralling novel will change the way you see gods, heroes and demons.
Credit: Penguin India
“The entire age, with its multiple infinities of lives and souls, is but a single simple breath of the cosmic divine.”
The novel opens at Marine Drive in Mumbai where thousands swarm to enjoy the promenade and the author aptly taps the underlying emotion of the human mass that converge at the most loved spot in the city. A crowd, distinct in character and unique in wayward demenour to give a feel and depth to the city. Having stayed in Mumbai and not faraway from Marine Drive, I was elated to read the first page in how Olivier has described the emotions in the crazy city with the mad cap-the perfect side kick in the situation and the watch mender. Soon, the city was going to change in Olivier’s world where mayhem strikes and our hero, Saam, is assigned the task to save the world from his father Shiva. The author takes us to the world of treachery with Ara the spider showing his true colors, King Ketan and Lalbaal son of Vayu, Fazal the scholar, Saam’s better half Maya and the horse Dhuaa.
The narration is gripping whether travelling in a new world and the rationalization of form passage in the quest for adventure in alien territory. The author doesn’t hesitate to inject a dose of philosophy and the science of Kaal Veda. The discussion hinges on the realm of human mind and the territory that he explores in a passionate fashion, remains one of the forte of the book. The discussion where Ketan explores the Kaal Veda as, ‘The infinity of worlds, the multi verse, is an organ of spiritual energy. The passages are called world gates, although, they are not doors. Forcing an opening between worlds is possible, but at the cost of phenomenal amount of spiritual energy.” Olivier injects a flurry of passion in his tale of mythology, verging to the spiritual quest and gently tapping matters and metaphysical aspect of existence.
The author expresses words in an aesthetic and lyrical manner, depicting the journey of the protagonists in a world which is being explored. Simple and subdued in tone, the prose is depicted in a subtle and sensitive manner describing ‘Ship of Worlds.’ Read this excerpt: “Everything instantly went dark, as though someone had turned the sun off. The day’s heat, the subtle smell of the desert, the distant presence of the hills, the unblemished blue of the sky, the faint texture of the earth beneath them..It all vanished in an instant, bewildering the companions.” Isn’t it beautiful? The flow, the contrast and the soothing description. It’s amazing how Olivier expresses drama, lyrical atmosphere and spiritual quest in a passionate style that differ with each other. The command of language is simply mesmerizing.
The author captures the reader’s attention with the heart pounding fights that has all the making of a period drama that leaves little room to take a breath. The sequence happens in a swift manner that makes one envision it as a high-end action movie coupled with special effects. It’s simply breath-taking like a flash of light that makes your heart beat faster and still you won’t bulge from holding the book in your hand. What works the most is how he makes his main protagonist and the hero, Saam, as humane as possible. The latter is vulnerable despite being a mythological figure and demigod. And, we thought, demigods are invincible. Full credit to the creative vision of Olivier Lafont.
And, if you thought that you have been served right in warrior, the author creates another surprise with the tales spurned. He draws a sharp contrast between the Mahabharata and the Third Gear fighting for the victory of good over evil. This aspect in the narration is weaved intelligently in this metallic war. It’s sublimely told. The climax in the book reaches a crescendo of sort with Saam coming face to face with the brother turned foe, Ara and suddenly, Maya making the ultimate sacrifice. The manner in which Saam meets his father, Shiva, is told in a rather unique fashion, something one wouldn’t expect at all, reaffirming believers’ faith that ‘God’ come in any form.
Olivier Lafont’s Warrior scores on several counts in this tale where an Indianized version of mythology meets Iron Men and other legendary stuffs that Hollywood is famous for. However, I feel that the author should have put more emphasis on the conflict between Shiva and Saam, that comes towards the end which is, nonetheless, an interesting discussion on life, abandonment and weakness in love. At times, the flashback in the narration tends to get bland, in depicting the rather troubled equation between Saam and his brother, Ara since there is an over emphasis on this childhood and growing up where the spider comes to save his brother.
Olivier Lafont’s Warrior is a book that you shouldn’t miss under any pretext. True, there are many books on mythology but the pace of narration, stupendous action and engaging flow makes Warrior a winner all the way. The book is India’s answer to the likes of Harry Potter and Hollywood potboilers such as Avatar. A complete page turner and this one deserves to find its way in your collector’s edition. The stage has already been set and mythological stories are here to revolutionize the way we look at our demi gods, often revered and Warrior is one such book that marries myth with repeat value entertainment.
The book, in hard copy, was sent to me by Penguin India and promptly arranged by Gina Lafont for the review. It’s my first hard copy received to review where I was contacted on Twitter. I wish to thank Gina Lafont and Penguin India for the timely arrangement. You can connect with the author on Facebook,Twitter and buy the book on Penguin India and Amazon. You can also check his blog here.