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There seems to be a craze for fictions that talk about mysteries from the past – prehistoric, as well as medieval – since the mass has been moved by The Da Vinci Code. Years ago I had read Foucault’s Pendulum – which used to be one of its kind. The theories were intriguing, the narration tough, but the materials disturbingly thought-provoking. Then of course came The Da Vinci Code. Again, research was good (even though it was criticised heavily) and it kept the readers glued till the last page. But since then there has been a sudden influx of such novels in the literary market. Many authors have come up with the very first books that show fantastic research in the area, always something new to share or explain the same thing in a new light, and every time the plots and explanations somehow make sense! I have just finished reading Pyramid by Tom Martin (which is actually the author’s pseudonym) and again, nice work!

Now I am not claiming to have done a lot of research on this – so there may be many examples that someone could unearth that will prove that these type of fictions were available even before the days of The Da Vinci Code. But on an overall scale, it’s only recently – say in the last 10-15 years – that we are seeing this particular trend has become a mainstream bestseller category. Turning back the clock near about 80 years, one can find a relatively unknown fiction author named Talbot Mundy who did some great works in this area. I have read one of his books – The Nine Unknown (link to buy this book online in India) – last year, and it was startling to see such work from so many years in the past. Some of his other titles look extremely promising, but are very difficult to come by.

Around the same time, I am sure we could find some of the works from authors like Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and even may be some of less famous authors of that era) qualifying as pioneers of the same genre I am talking about. Intrigue, mystique, and a romanticism for the hazy past were smeared all across those stories. As a matter of fact, one of the prominent theme of this genre – the lost continent of Atlantis – probably originated around this time. For more information, one can try out literature of one W Scott-Elliot of The Theosophical Society of London, named “The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria“.

Coming back to modern days and the abrupt eruption of plethora of titles around the same theme, if one tries to compile a list of good reads, it would be a mammoth exercise. However, I have tried to compile a decent reading list, and hope you, if you are a fan of the genre that is, would surely enjoy majority of these titles (at least I did).

So here we go:

  • Author Andy McDermott – fantastic storytelling pace, nothing short of the Indiana Jones stories, with not one but 2 protagonists, namely Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase:
  1. The Hunt for Atlantis
  2. The Tomb of Hercules
  3. The Secret of Excalibur
  4. The Covenant of Genesis
  5. The Cult of Osiris (also known as The Pyramid of Doom)
  6. The Vault of Shiva (also known as The Sacred Vault)
  7. Empire of Gold
  8. Temple of the Gods (also known as Return of Atlantis)
Books by Andy McDermott, buy online in India from Flipkart.com

Books by Andy McDermott, buy online in India from Flipkart.com

There are lots of other authors & book suggestions, but my fingers seems to have gotten very tired for now. Keep visiting back and I will not disappoint you! Bye for now.

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The book was a sudden find for me when I was browsing through the isles of fictions by Indian authors in a Landmark store in Ahmedabad sometimes back. The strange title of “The Rozabal Line” and the few lines on the back cover of the book attracted me – and even though I wasn’t really having any plans to purchase anything that day, I did purchase the book.

I didn’t have to regret the decision!

As I was flipping through the pages my brain was getting the dosage of a heady concoction of ingredients from western history, eastern history, hindu mythology, modern sociopolitical titbits and author’s fantastic imagination prowess. Even though Ashwin took the painstaking task of adding footnote references to all parts that were historical or based on sources deemed to be real, the smooth mixing of facts with fictional elements was no nicely done that my mind wanted everything he had written to be true – that is the “anthropological fiction” part of it (of course, not the modern day events his novel had in it).

As the last page was turned over, I wanted more. More of Ashwin Sanghi. And sitting in my desk, the only true reliable source for sourcing the same was Flipkart.com.

Hence came “The Krishna Key” in my hands couple of days later, thanks to Flipkart’s fantastic delivery network. And I was hooked in once again.

This time, the subject was more close to my heart. I grew up through the lores and stories of hindu mythology – be it from the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the plethora of Puaranas that our culture boasts of. Before opening the book, I was wondering what could it be that Ashwin wanted to refer to as “the legacy Krishna left behind for mankind”! When I finally saw what he meant, it was worthy of an applause. He zeroed in on such a small side story from the mythological texts and built such a wonderful thriller around it, that I finally sealed the deal of becoming his fan. The overall narrative, storytelling skills and compactness of the subplots – everything made the book a superhit.

So if you are a “Dan Brown” genre reader and have a soft corner for Indian mythology & history as well – go for these 2 novels, and with special Flipkart.com discounts as well (if you are in India, that is):

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To know more about Ashwin, you can also check out his Wikipedia page, and his own site.

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Some weeks back, I finally finished The Unwaba Revelations – the third and final book in Samit Basu‘s GameWorld series. The journey started in 2004 when I suddenly discovered his first book (which was acknowledged as the first-ever Indian-English SFF genre novel and was widely popular since it was published) in the Calcutta Book Fair and was thrilled with anticipation. Here was an author, couple of years younger than me, who wrote an SFF book in English language and got it published by Penguin – it had to be good.

And it was better. It was fantastic. It perhaps wasn’t a serious novel as it started – with themes and names and concepts borrowed from every possible fantasy creations on earth, the first few sips were like those of an exquisite cocktail. But then pages turned, and story formed. By the end of the first book, his literary style was proven to be unique, concept complex but unconfused, brilliance shimmering.

Then came the second book a little while later. And it threw things upside down. Gods playing games with the world is something one can digest – but then one set of Gods cheating some other set of Gods in that game? I mean… – and, he wasn’t kidding – he was serious, and he pulled it off. With fantastic things happening on the world and off the world, the second book was a delight to read after a long wait. Story grew more complex, it was an abundance of characters, and all the while every chapter holding the readers’ nerves on a strong leash.

The anticipation for the third book was breaking the sky. Readers – by now die-hard-SamitBasu-fans – were after him for months in his blog site about publication dates. I was in the United Kingdom, so chances for me to see the book in the local stores were remote. Fortunately someone came to visit us and brought the book for me upon my earnest request. I kept it away for sometime, as I had some other agenda which were keeping me busy. And then one fine day, I started reading it.

Wonders. Amazement. Joy. Laugh. Delight. Suspense. Intrigue. Fascination. Emptyness.

The book was finished. And I am still thinking why couldn’t it last longer. Fantastic story-telling. Wonderfully new language. Fantastic plot-sum-up. I could make a guess about the fact that perhaps the author wasn’t sure where the story would lead when he started writing the first volume in this 3-book-series. But that is not something one would complain about after being through the joy-ride. It finished neat and it finished perfectly. Unlike classical good-over-evil stories, in this book the reader would see deaths of prominent “good” and “important” characters, reader would also see survival of “villain” characters, and finally “un-suspended animation” of some characters (after all, Gods were playing games here). But the author, following some traditional norms, did give us triumph of some of the most favourite characters – and that too in a spectacular fashion.

A wonderful read, I must admit. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish, after those monumental battle scenes and adventure rides. There wasn’t a single moment of feeling “blah, this wasn’t really an up-to-the-mark closure” in any of the chapters – that’s to say the least.

I am now a definite die-hard fan. I was already, but just proclaiming it. Will eagerly wait for Samit’s next masterpiece, when it comes. I hope he do not go miles away from SFF genre – because that’s what I like. Meanwhile I am thinking of trying out some of his comics works. Feeling excited.

And now, finally after finishing this blog, (to quote Samit) I will collapse spectacularly on my bed. Lights out!

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KaalchakraA fantastic article…

http://www.world-mysteries.com/Walter_Cruttenden_1.htm

Please read it if you are interested in ancient history, myths, philosophical cosmology and the mysterious.

(N.B.: Image courtesy – the link provided above.)

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WDYCWOPT-Page1A small note of correction – the reference from Richard Feynman‘s quote mentioned in the previous post Nature’s Beauty and Mind’s Perception was actually from his second biography book “What do you care what other people think?“, and not from the first one “Surely you’re joking, Mr Feynman“. A portion from the first page of the book in question is shown here, which also covers the section I was talking about.

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