Book: The Avatari
Author: Raghu Srinivasan
Number of pages: 500
Price: Rs. 399
The Avatari by Raghu Srinivasan is an intense trail of a mythical kingdom, with an ancient artifact and has a secret that must not be revealed.
It is about a golden metal piece, which a character picks up, while on an expedition to the Himalayas in the 1930s. His grandson delivers this artifact to a Laotian monastery in the late 1950s. In the mid-1980s, it gets stolen. And upon the request of a monk via a letter, Henry Ashton, a retired British Army Officer, sets on a life-altering journey to retrieve this artifact and prevent it from being misused. In this, he is assisted by a motley crew:
- Durga Bahadur, a retired Gurkha Sergeant
- Susan, a high strung mathematician from Oxford, who has her own demons to conquer
- Peter, an American mercenary on the CIA’s hit list
Their journey leads to an ancient map that dates to the time of Kublai Khan and Marco Polo and perhaps, the former’s final resting place. The action takes places in numerous locations, the inhospitable deserts of Ladakh, amidst the turmoil in Pakistan and the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, with the Afghan War at its peak.
Avatari refers to those individuals chosen by destiny to gain entry into a mythical kingdom believed to hold ancient wisdom that will help humanity resurrect itself post an inevitable apocalypse.
The book is a delightful page-turner, asking you for your complete attention. Srinivasan etches out each of his characters beautifully, with rich imagery and much detailing. And he picks his words with utmost care. It is a multi-layered narrative, switching between numerous time period, locations and characters. It took me a little back and forth and rereading of a few passages to understand who is who et al. A list of characters, at either the beginning or the end, would have helped. It might have also taken away from the suspense and intrigue, I suppose.
When I read all the fine detailing, I could only think of the amount of research Srinivasan would have done to arrive at this tale. At the face of it, it is a quest for a very valuable artifact, which if misused threatens to destroy the very fabric of human civilization as we know it. But it also serves as a timely lesson in history and somewhere along the way, highlights the human costs of violence and war, without getting too preachy about it. The book also provides a brief glimpse into Buddhism and throws light on the paradox between karma and free will.
The Avatari would serve as rich material for a pot-boiler film or a TV series. There is so much happening within its pages: lots of mythology, a war, a chase, some back stabbing, the promise of a budding romance, settling scores, battling inner demons, etc.
Read it for the suspense, drama and intrigue. The Avatari, I promise, will leave you delighted.
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