Friday, 31 May 2013

Thundergod : The Ascendance of Indra by Rajiv Menon

Title : Thundergod: The Ascendance Of Indra
Author : Rajiv Menon
Genre : Fiction / Mythology
Publisher : Westland Ltd.
Pages : 384
My Rating : 7/10
Reviewed For : MySmartPrice Books / Indian Debut Writers Month 2013 / South Asian Challenge 2013 / First Reads Challenge 2013



One day a prince from one of the four great tribes will unite the sons of Aditi and he will sow the seeds of an empire that will rule the world. Born of a prophetic union between the Earth Goddess Gaia and Daeyus, chief of the Devas, comes the story of a child recounted by history to have become a king and retold by legend to have transcended into a god. Indra, destiny’s orphan, finds himself growing up in a vortex of treachery and tribal incumbency. Shielded from the usurpers of his birthright only by the watchful eye of the warrior sage Mitra, he first sets out to conquer the hearts of his tribesmen, and then the kingdoms of the unmapped world. Aligning forces with his brothers by blood oath and divine intervention Agni, Vayu, Varuna and Soma Indra embarks on a military campaign of epic proportions, stretching from the Euphrates in Asia Minor to Harappa on the Indian subcontinent, encountering formidable armies, demonic beings and powerful goddesses, and losing the only woman he really loves. Will he get her to love him again? Will he avenge the death of his father? Will he assume his place in the pantheon of the gods? In a compelling saga, blended by history, spiced by legend and mutated by myth, Rajiv G. Menon transforms ten years of research into a lightning rod of an action adventure that streaks into your consciousness with the speed of Indra’s thunderbolt.


My Review:


Thundergod: The Ascendance Of Indra is a complete high-octane read from the outset. Being an ardent mythology buff, something in me (I call it curiosity) prompted me to read this one, if only to know how the author had portrayed a less popular God like Indra!! The Hindu has described this book as “a story of unbridled flamboyance from a debutant author”, so yes - unbridled it is and how!! Mediocre doesn’t settle it for the author, the events here are at the extremum -  swashbuckling action, bloodbath, heartbreak, amorous dalliances, revenge, cowardice, conspiracies, shifting loyalties – you name it & it has got it.
The story kickstarts with King Daeyus (who is the chief of Devas – a clan of barbarian warriors) leading his men on a mission across the vast sandy stretches of the Karakum Desert. So brave and virile he is, (The way his character is sketched, I am compelled to imagine him as Gerard Butler from the movie “300”), that even the Earth Goddess Gaia, who being an Elemental is forbiden from consorting with humans, cannot resist him. The result of this brief tryst is Indra – whose birth is prophesied and who is destined to unite the sons of Aditi. However, from the moment Indra is even conceived, forces of nature & human beings alike start concocting to annihilate him. However, destiny’s child – Indra remains protected by supernatural powers and guarded by the warrior sage Mitra.  As the years proceed, Indra grows up in a vortex of treachery, tribal incumbency and splintering loyalties. On attaining adulthood, Indra claims his birthright position as well as his childhood sweetheart’s hand in marriage. However, on the other hand he loses her love in a series of unexpected events and is left heartbroken in a single stroke. A heartbroken & brave warrior never fears anything and needless to say, what follows next is Indra’s ambitious quest - first to conquer the vanquishers of his father & then the kingdoms of the unmapped world. The author charts Indra’s journey as he turns into a war machine and attains a new high after every conquest. Supporting him in the carnage are his brothers who are bound to him by a blood oath – Agni, Vayu, Varuna & Soma. Finally, the hunter becomes the hunted and Indra finds himself ensconced in Swarga after he fulfils his prophecy.
The author has created a plot which resembles a grand game of chess, where many players are introduced and their roles constantly oscillating between being a pawn or a knight. The plot is replete with testosterone-charged, adventuristic voyages of the protagonist. The most striking part, however, is Indra’s metamorphosis from an innocent, mortal lad to an alpha male to finally a God!! As a reader, I found him endearing, sympathized with him, watched him run high on heady brews as well as ambition, plough down entire armies of humans & other creatures alike and finally deteriorating into a power hungry king. The author has not created stereotypical perfect God but has a sketched a very flawed protagonist with whom the readers will share a love-hate relationship. Another major highlight of this novel was the author’s earnest attempt in meshing together Indian mythology & world history. His love for Greek & Indian mythology as well as meticulous research is clearly evident in this read.
While the plot is packed with pace, it also includes a lot of graphic war & erotic details. While at the start they seem inevitable, page after page of war scenes in all its glory of bloodshed becomes repelling and slows down the pace of narration. Secondly, the author has filled the plot with motley of characters & frankly, I was overwhelmed by the vast array of characters. Also, whilst doing so, the author has wonderfully developed Indra’s character but whilst showering all his attention on Indra, the author has not done justice to the secondary characters. Especially, the characters of Vayu, Varuna, Agni & Soma are not fleshed out properly neither is their equation with Indra. And lastly, with all the anticipation for the final battle building up, the ending seems to be rushed & abrupt which left me absolutely unsatisfied.
When this read came out, it garnered a lot of mixed reviews. And after reading this one, I got a feeling very much like that – mixed emotions!! While the author has to be lauded for a beautiful & bold debut effort, I also wish to read a more crispier plot in the sequel sans a little bit of gore. All in all, this is a complete page turner that will keep the reader hooked.


  1. Hey Pooja! I really loved your review. I will be reading this book soon. Also since you are a book lover like me ... I would recommend a book called Beaten by Bhagath by S V Divvaakar. Its a funny take on Indian publishing house. I recently read it and loved it. Hope you will like it too.

    1. Hi Harshal, Thanks for the compliment as well as the recommendation!! Actually Beaten by Bhagath is on my To-be-read list and I have got a lot of recos for this book. Will surely read it soon..:)