I vividly remember the blood curdling screams that pounded my head into a dulling sensation after sitting hunched up in the midst of my cousins, having listened to tales of monsters in unimaginable forms perform wicked deeds of infinite cruelty. I was scared of them-yes; but I never tired of them. There was in me a passion for stories related to legends, fantasy, magic and mythology. Unlikely heroes who were made so because of necessity, natural heroes who made it look easy whatever they did to become heroes, modest heroes who did not want to be seen doing heroic deeds, selfish heroes who did not want to brave the world and be heroic but were compelled to do so for the sake of someone else – my world was never short of heroes.
People who grew up in close-knit families would still remember with a wistful grin the thrilling and heady feeling they experienced in listening to folktales and myths being spun expertly by their grandmothers. The tales were often accompanied with gruesome laughter, inane sounds and shrieking banshees that made one’s blood freeze with terror. Added to these factors was the singular fact that the stories were usually told after supper under a feeble hurricane lamp that transmogrified a harmless cousin into a seemingly marauding Frankenstein.
It was no surprise then that stories involving monsters, heroes and myths imprinted a lasting impression and continued to make their abode in a corner of my mind, though in a forgotten state. The awakening my mind received regarding mythology was through the pages of Warrior, the mythological adventure story written by Olivier Lafont. What an awakening it was!
Saam, the protagonist of the novel is a demigod with tremendous powers. He lives in Mumbai as a watchmender keeping his powers under wraps. But the situation demands otherwise. The world struggles and totters under the scheme of the Enemy. It is the End of Days and everything that is to be done to save the world can be accomplished only through Saam. He takes on a perilous journey across India and ultimately the world, accompanied by his love Maya – a mortal woman, Ara – his half-brother, Moti and Fateh – two warriors of renown and allies of Ara, Fazal – a scholar and Lalbaal – a friend.
To say that the journey is dangerous would be an understatement. Not knowing the identity of the enemy, the group seems to be on a wild goose chase when the object of its pursuit is found nowhere in this world. The only choice left is to travel to another world resembling this world in another time – a daunting task indeed. However, the greatest difficulty encountered by the group is time – which they do not simply have. The End of Days has to be stopped, if possible, within three days. With time running out, to keep oneself alive and effectuate the immobilization of the End of Days seems to be a hopeless and frightening task. Yet, the group moves ahead, led by Saam – for it is the only hope the world has.
Olivier Lafont surprises the reader in one too many ways. Indian readers would immediately be glued to the story as the setting is predominantly in India, especially Northern. Readers of other countries will get a first hand taste of some of the greatest mythological stories that define India. It is indeed a wonder that a writer with French origin has written a novel that delves deep into Indian mythology and woos readers with its intricate plot and fast paced action. Warrior is a proper mix of action, adventure, fantasy, mythology, brotherhood and family ties. There is of course a tinge of romance. Added to the flavor is betrayal, terrible in its consequence.
India is known for its tradition of strong family ties. Indian culture is made strong and viewed with respect by people of other nationalities due to its deep family roots. It is no wonder that the mythological tales of India are mostly about family affairs, sometimes gone wrong. The author has centred his story on a family heirloom. This single act of Olivier Lafont spreads the strong aroma of Indian culture in which huge importance is accorded to items used by their ancestors.
Saam is portrayed as a demigod with more powers than most other demigods roaming the earth. He has an intense hatred for his father, a god the world fears and reveres. Saam would readily plunge his sword to avenge the death of his mother by his father. The affection between Ara and Saam is warm, affectionate and also heart-wrenching at times. To depict such a variety of emotions surging through the hearts of the half-brothers and make the readers smile, frown, curse and also cry requires great talent; Olivier Lafont does this with ease.
When reading about Ara, one cannot but be reminded of Loki from Norse mythology. The casual arrogance of Ara, his smirky countenance that the reader can readily visualize, his nick name (read the novel to find out) and the strained yet loving fellowship he maintains with his brother resemble the cloudy fellowship between Thor and Loki. The author’s skill in writing is evident in the subtle manner in which the strained relationship between the brothers is brought out in many scenes. The helplessness that the brothers feel in certain situations mists the readers’ eyes.
Though the main characters of this novel are demigods, there is brought out of them human qualities that make the reader undergo variegated emotions. The struggle that Saam undergoes to control his anger and tears, the vulnerability that Saam feels while facing Maya, the distrust that Saam reserves for his half-brother Ara, the fury that the raksha Fateh uses to fuel his training for 300 years, the disappointment that Ara nurses in his bosom and above all, the nature of Saam’s father, a god, to reach out passionately for the love of his demigod son, at the least his friendship – all these speak volumes of the adept writing skills of the young author.
Olivier Lafont has dug the earth quite deep for this novel’s research. The connecting of seemingly different events of the world and making them fall in line to give credibility to the story has been immaculately done by the author. His strength lies in his characters effortlessly traversing the boundaries of time and being believable. The introduction of Lieutenant Geoffrey Gordon from the Skinners Horse of the British Army for instance, has the touch of a master. So is the mention of Einstein, the theory of quantum of mechanics and the year in which Einstein was writing about the behavior of light.
The mention of a Baker carbine cavalry rifle talks again of the intense research having gone behind the making of the Warrior. The credit given to Indian craftsmen for making the rifle better sends roots deeper than before into the Indian soil and Indian mythology. The making of different mythological characters cannot be done as easily as characters are created for a normal novel. Credibility needs to be in balance for the reader to continue reading, for the readers would already be familiar with the mythology. This has been done nonchalantly by Olivier Lafont. The habile touches of the author in bringing us this novel will be appreciated by critics around the world.
Olivier Lafont has brought on a silver plate, golden apples worth devouring. The author has made a clean dive into the unfathomable and age-old traditional & rich pit of Indian mythology and has created a unique story with characters that are heroic, godly, believable and very much necessary for this troublesome world to grind into the readers the belief that the future of the world is not bleak. However dark the clouds may gather, there will be a silver lining. The noble and the good must always stand against the evil irrespective of the strength of the enemy. For, to oppose the evil is to be true to your conscience. Olivier sends us the message that the age of chivalry is not yet dead. There still are heroes who will rise when the world needs them. The Warrior is clear about it. This is a novel that will inspire readers and give birth to many more stories worth reading. This book is a jewel that would adorn the shelves of mythological lovers throughout the world and continue to increase the readership level. This is certainly a book to read, and at once.