Usha Narayan's new novel Pradyumna is about the son of Lord Krishna. Praduymna and Samba are the two sons of Krishna born from different mothers. The novel begins with the prophecy that one of them will lead to the destruction of their entire clan. Tracks of Kama, Vama and Kartaviryajuna run parallel with Pradyumna. The author keeps you glued to your seats as she narrates these tales. At one point she tells us that Vama, Kartaviryajuna and Pradyumna are all reincarnations of the God of love Kama. Therefrom the story runs into the sole track of Pradyumna.
Pradyumna has many demons to slay - Kaalsura, Nikumbha, Banasura and Vajranabha. Thus there is lot of action in the book. The way the author describes these battles is simply brilliant. She articulates the various weapons, war fields, men and animals present there so well that she succeeds in creating literary special effects before our eyes.
Plus Pradyumna has three wives. So there is lot of scope for romance as well. Afterall he is Kama reincarnated. It is nice to see Lord Krishna in the role of father and grandfather. This facet of his personality has never come up in the popular literature. So it makes the novel fresh. The track of Pradyumna's son's romance with Usha somehow doesn't gel with the entire story.
Writing a novel with such a wide canvas was indeed a Herculean task. The author must be congratulated for succeeding in writing such a complex novel with multiple characters. Though after a certain point, the slaying of demons and romances become repetitive. The novel does not clearly spell out as to who amongst the two sons of the Krishna is going to destroy his own race, thereby paving way for sequel of the novel. Though we know that it is not Pradyumna for sure as he is the hero and Samba is portrayed as the wicked brother.
I really liked the way the author has weaved the stories of Pradyumna, Kama, Vama and Kartaviryajuna and ultimately linked them together. . I also liked Gandhari's outburst on knowing that all her sons have been killed, which comes at the end of the novel. But I wonder why was Gandhari given so much of importance in a novel dedicated to Praduymna.
I feel the following line on page 108 incorrect. “It was Pradyumna, the fair son of the Dark One, come to lead his men into the battle of dharma.” I feel the words who had should have preceded the word come.
Having said that let me tell you that if you are lover of the mythological genre this book is going to be a literary treat for you. This is the book you simply cannot miss.