Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book review : Warrior by Olivier Lafont

Author: Olivier Lafont
ISBN-13: 9780143423638
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 384
Genre: Fiction
Language: English
Price: Rs.399 (Got a review copy from the author)

About the Book

Join Saam, last son of the destroyer, on his epic quest to save all existence.
In Mumbai, driven to its knees by a merciless blizzard, Saam the watch mender is cornered into an intolerable position. As Shivas only earthly demigod child, it falls upon him to stop his indomitable father.
Bred to war, son of destruction, Saam rides with six extraordinary companions into the horror of a crumbling world to face Shiva. He is forced to join hands with ara, his half-brother he can never fully trust and take with him his own mortal beloved, Maya, on this desperate attempt to stop the end of days. But his path is littered with death, danger and betrayal.
Interweaving mythology, epic adventure and vintage heroism, this enthralling novel will change the way you see gods, heroes and demons.

About the Author

Olivier Lafont is a multitalented and versatile personality who writes fiction, feature film screenplays, and editorial pieces, but also acts in feature films, endorses some of India’s most popular brands on television, and lends his voice to many media in many languages. A French polyglot, Lafont pursues his eclectic interests at the highest standards having worked with some of India’s most acclaimed directors on films like 3 Idiots, Guzaarish and two Hollywood films, and continuing in the same vein with his new novel coming out with Penguin India. He is a familiar face due to his work in over 70 adverts on television.

Gaurav Says

‘Warrior’ takes you right to the ‘reminiscence highway’ of Nolan’s Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne, the reluctant superhero goes into cover as he’s absolutely certain that Gotham didn’t need a vigilante. Picture a Dino Morea version of Christian Bale and you have Saam, the son of Shiva the destroyer, reluctant to don on his god-like powers to save our universe from imminent doom. There lurks one all-pervasive force, ‘The Master’, who have wrecked havoc by threatening to bring in The ‘Judgment Day’, ‘Armageddon’ or *insert your favorite word of carnage here*. This carnage is the immediate effect of the ‘Great Dance’ of Lord Shiva. ‘The Master’ demands all demi-gods, living among us, to either become his slaves and serve to recreate humanity after complete destruction or perish with the impending doom. And unlike the horror movie, ‘The Ring’, the demi-gods have three days in their hands. 
Obviously, the demi-gods, or the ‘Peerless’, turned to Saam to have a talk with daddy (Lord Shiva). However, being one of the many sons of Shiva, Saam has ‘daddy issues’. He ignores the Peerless’ insistence, thereby earning the Peerless’ wrath (more on that later).
The events of ‘End of Days’ starts with sudden gusts of north winds, bringing snow to Mumbai followed by irrepressible earthquakes. To add to it all, Bhopal gets infested by a certain form of fog which disembodies every mortal being that comes in its way (akin to the green mists of Narnia). Saam, although reluctant to seek Shiva’s blessings, started to look for solutions to stop the doom. In comes his half-brother ‘Ara’ who advises him to find the ‘Pure Glass’, which may have some solutions. Before setting up for his voyage, the Peerless tries to eradicate Saam. They first burn his house to ashes and then try to kill him. Hence, a fight sequence ensues where Saam becomes a hybrid of ‘Neo’ from ‘The Matrix’ and ‘King Leonidas’ from 300. ‘SLASH! CUT! REPEAT!’ became his motto for the fight.
The gory fight scene marks the end of first half of the book. In the second two halves, we see Saam teaming up with his brother Era, Era’s companion Moti, Saam’s bikini-body-certified girlfriend ‘Maya’ (because Lafont never fails to describe her tanned skin, perfectly smooth back and sex-appeal almost everywhere), another Peerless ‘Lalbaal’ (yeah! Funny name!), a historian & expert on Hinduism ‘Fazal’ and a turbaned rakshas ‘Fateh’.
‘Team Saam’, hence go on a quest riding their mighty steed (which has an impressive history of serving in the ‘Kurukshetra) to find the ‘Pure Glass’. They confront meek rakshashas, 12 meter tall, who are (surprisingly) prone to the common cold & flu; humanoid pterodactyls, geckos and lizards; the Nagraj who has an underwater library of sorts that holds copies of ancient texts (think of the secret library vault of the Vatican city from Angels & Demons) and ultimately the ‘World Gate’ that allows travelers to traverse between multiple universes (watching Interstellar would help you in this case).
Lafont creates a mash-up of LOTR meets GoT meets Mahabharata. We have valiant demi-gods trying to save the world from complete obliteration. We have hints of ‘Red Wedding’, betrayal and complete chaos among frenzied population. We have mythical characters from Mahabharata come to life. If you subtract the supernatural elements, then Lafont paints a pretty nice picture of human psychology. With the slightest hint of things going wrong, our psychology tends to manifest our inner fears and demonic ideas. Likewise, in the novel, the women take up arms and proclaim their territory while ‘sadhus’ turn on each other and people in general turn into cannibals and feed on corpses.
The only issue I had with the book was the occasionally slow narrative. You’re likely to be bombarded with stretching comparisons like ‘hair as smooth as silk’ or ‘hip-hop such as Honey Singh’  (just kidding). The point is that this incessant need to compare creates major annoyance in the overall narrative. It destroys the speed of the narrative , making it a little tiresome.
Oliver Lafont does really well for a debut novelist. Despite some minor flaws in the narrative, the book manages to grip your attention as it progresses towards the end. The catch phrase for this book is ‘a journey’, one that takes you to different places all over the country and gives you interesting insights about mythologies, legends and folk lores. Its impressive cover page is the perfect prelude to the story that follows. You can definitely judge this book, based on its cover

Reviewed by Gaurav Dutta for Dreams and Drama. Thank you so much, Gaurav