I have been guilty of delaying the review for this book Agniputr by Vadhan for a few weeks together. The reason was I wanted to sit on it and see what I really think about it after a few weeks. And, now, I can safely say, this book is absolute must-read with all its faults.
The charm of this book or rather the author lies in his ability to build scenarios with his words. He makes the novel come alive. And, that is not restricted to just this book of his but also his first book. After finishing this book, I ordered his first book as well and it was just the same. I totally loved his ability to play with words.
Book Review – “Agniputr” by Vadhan
About the Book
In 1940, someone triggers a phenomenon in the mistaken belief of becoming a super power and unleashes the God of Agony called Sutram in a village called Gudem in Andhra Pradesh. Thereafter, the destruction follows. But, it gets curbed by Surya Prasad Surya who loses his life in the struggle. Curbed but not destroyed. The Sutram is hidden from all eyes.
Today. After 60 + years, Gudem once again gets the status of a haunted village and becomes the center for paranormal activities. A young and curious scientist, SRK, comes to his native place for his engagement but gets lured to this urban legend and starts digging around, losing his life in the process. The reports sent by this scientist to his boss, Sheila Pitambar, gets her interest invoked in the Sutram which is getting stronger again.
Through government channels, Sheila gets deployed to research this phenomena in detail and present reports to the home minister who is funding the entire project. What they fail to do is approach Raghuram Surya, a lawyer based in Gurgaon and the owner of the ancestral palace under which Sutram has been invoked.
When Raghuram hears about his property being trespassed, legal notices are exchanged between him and the government. He returns to his home and gets acquainted with Sheila who has already arrived to look around the palace. Thus fly the sparks between two successful and lonely people trying to find something better for themselves and the journey to destroy the Sutram.
The rest of the story is how they unravel the mystery and end up destroying the power which is growing everyday and is ready to consume the world. They have to take on Govind Kiromal, the home minister of India and a very powerful person, and his advisor, the mysterious tantric, who was the reason Sutram was unleashed.
You can live in this novel. It is written simply and gets finished in one sitting. The plot is simple and the quantum physics used is quite simple and gets explained easily, just in case you think it might be a bouncer ! The action sequences are aptly narrated. You will enjoy them.
There are a few things which I like. The conversation between Sheila and the defense minister raises a few pertinent points about the politics today.
The plots combining mythology and physics have been quite in vogue these days. This book achieves the same amount of action with the fast-paced story as much as it delves into science and romance. Not for one second, it feels boring or confusing except at the end (but it might be just me!).
There are a few loopholes though. I would have like more background on Sutram or God of Agony. Or, a little backstory of who the mysterious and powerful tantric is, how did he meet Kiromal or how did he win the confidence of a shrewd politician, Govind Kiromal. There is a certain disconnect between the incidents of 1940 and the present day in the perspective of the tantric.
It would have been nice if the author would have provided an explanation of why the tantric thought the invocation of Sutram failed. I would assume that he would be in the vicinity of the event and it was very much active in its destruction until 1970’s so it would have been easy for the tantric to feel its presence through his powerful black magic which is how he finds it in the present day as well.
I am not sure if these are spoilers here but I am warning you before you read ahead. Also, if you read the tag line of the book, When Agni First Spoke, it does not explain much. You would later realize that it means the syllable which made the Big Bang happen. I thought the syllable is pretty much known but the protagonists spent quite sometime getting misled.
I do like the theory of quarks and anti-quarks but I got confused about the theory of Agniputr. If I explain more, you are bound to get confused so let us not dwell into it. The confusion is no way diminishes the simplicity of the novel or the pace of the story so that is something which you can ignore if you do not understand it. Or, ask the author for the explanation 🙂
I have to say this though. Being from Andhra Pradesh, it was quite nice to know the setting of novel was in interiors of the state. But, at many places, a few local slangs and local swear words have been used in the novel. I am not a fan of using swear words in any novel so that did put me off a bit. I wish the author would not use such language from now on. It does not add to the novel but does distract one.
Another major grouse I have is the ending. After presenting Sheila as an iron lady, a complete U-turn was unexpected for me. I would have preferred her life to continue with the changes which had come in it. She is strong enough to handle it. Or, is it parallel universe events? (if I am not spoiling the suspense for you!)
Oh yes, I have to point out a few editing errors in the book as well. I think I spotted two. On page 158, the 26/11 attacks have been mentioned as happened in September 2008. And, another was probably a name or gender issue which I am n0t able to find now.
Even after a few weeks of finishing the novel and finishing a few more, the story is still stuck with me. That itself means a lot to me. Many of the present books have just faded in my memory including the latest Harry Potter which is a pity. With so many loopholes and obvious defects, I would still say it is a must read.