Indian fiction's answer to Avengers: Endgame is worth the Epic Journey

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan

Book - The Wrath of the Hellfires (Vikramaditya Veergatha Book 4)
Pages 536
Publisher  Jaico Publishing House

Wrath of the Hellfires - Vikramaditya series Shatrujeet Nath

"Patience is a Drawn Bow. Rage, its Relentless Arrow." 
The tagline for this book holds so true for the entire series. Having received the final book of Shatrujeet Nath's epic Vikramaditya series awhile ago, I actually took the time to go back and read the first three books all over again before diving into this. 

I have read quite a few Indian books that come under the category of 'historical fiction / fantasy / mythology' and to be frank, I had been less than a fan of the genre. Shatrujeet Nath changed my opinion with The Guardians of the Halahala

In the first book of the series, a part of the Halahala, the poison that rose from the ocean during the famous churning was stolen before Lord Shiva could swallow it. When Lord Shiva retrieved the poison - now within the hilt of a dagger - he knew it held the power to alter the fortunes of whoever wielded it, be it Deva or Asura. His decision to hand over the powerful weapon to Samrat Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine causes unrest across all realms of the world with everyone eager and willing to give up their ideals to dispossess the king off the dagger. 

In Books 2 and 3 ( The Conspiracy at Meru and The Vengeance of Indra) Vikramaditya succeeds in repelling the attacks and tricks of both Indra (the King of the Gods) and Shukracharya (the High priest of the Asuras) but it comes at great costs.

wrath of the hellfires book review

Reviewing the last book of the series is no easy feat - I have to avoid spoilers for those who have not read the earlier parts and yet want to delve into why I enjoyed the book and series. 

In the end, this is the compromise I worked out... allow me to compare it to the billion dollar, unique, world-building saga that spanned a decade and gave us one of the most memorable movie storylines of all time. Yes, I am referring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and... 

here are the reasons why I liken Shatrujeet Nath's The Wrath of the Hellfires to Avengers: Endgame. 

  1. As we enter the final book, there is a distinct sense of loss, not unlike the beginning of Avengers: Endgame (AE, from here on). The scheming ways of the Devas and Asuras have worked in the end, with the Council of Nine no longer united and disaster looming over the kingdom of Avanti. The spies of the devas are within the palace while the Asuras lay siege at the gates, leaving the King at his most vulnerable and faced with the reality that he may indeed lose not just the weapon he promised to safeguard but also his kingdom and life. 
  2. The Vikramaditya Veergatha series is extremely well thought out, benefited by the time that 4 books afford. Subplots set up in earlier books have a great payoff here, reminiscent of the 'On your Left' line and other callbacks from the final movie. 
  3. Like with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are plenty of familiar names here for those who know their history / mythology and it is lovely to see them not just in these new avatars but also well-represented. We saw the same with the Avengers movie, getting to know and even love seemingly minor characters like Gamora and Hawkeye as we got to know them better.
  4. Much like Kevin Feige or the Russo brothers, Shatrujeet Nath loves his characters and it shows.  Each of 'the Avengers' here gets a distinct character - be it the Council of Nine or even Betaal, you understand their individual ideologies and even understand, to some extent, their betrayals. 

  5. Nobody - not even Vikramaditya - is pristine white. There are shades of grey visible in every one of these beings, which makes them more relatable to me. It reminded me of Captain America: Civil War where the Sokovia Accords brought out the best and worst of characters we thought would always fight as one team.   
  6. The battles are distinct and have consequences, be it in the form of characters lost or friendships. The schemes within the palace and without rankle even more, hurting the protagonists without raising a knife. The deeper you go into the saga, the more these losses weigh on you, just as the ending of Avengers: Infinity War did.   

  7. And oh yes, the final battle is - like it was in AE - pretty epic, in every sense of the word. A commendable feat, considering the battles that came before in the earlier books.
  8. The risk of loose ends exists because there are multiple story arcs throughout these 4 books. Friendships are forged, alliances betrayed, conspiracies played out sneakily and yes, epic battles too. In juggling so many subplots, it is easy to lose focus. I could not find those loose threads myself.
  9. Like the Avengers, this is one of the few series that held my attention for years. I was looking forward to knowing how it all ends which says a lot, since I have walked away from other book (as well as movie) series, midway if I felt my interest waning. 
    I have literally grown old reading this series :)

  10. For readers on the fence on whether to start a new series, let me assure you - this is a complete series. Much like with AE, you end the final page with a smile, knowing that all the loose ends have been tied satisfactorily. 

I consider Shatrujeet Nath's Vikramaditya series better than 99 percent of all Indian mythological fiction present in the market today. There are plenty of historical fiction / mythological sagas in India currently but none compare to this one. His vocabulary has always been top notch and pacing dynamite; he knows to make the reader's journey worthwhile. 

Years ago, having read his first book, The Karachi Deception, I ended my review by wishing that he would not venture into the fantasy genre because his spy thriller was so damn good. Having followed his journey now over a decade, I am happy to admit that I stand corrected. 

Shatrujeet Nath proved me wrong and I'm glad he did. 

Shatrujeet Nath Author
The author has teased releasing the complete saga in a single book format shortly. This, in my opinion, would be perfect for new readers who want to get the entire story in one go.

This time, I will end my review by saying this much - this is not a series that can be made easily into a movie should an option arise someday in the future. To flesh out these characters, you need to allow for time. This would be an excellent tv series for me, each book encompassing a season by itself. 

Are any sensible production companies listening? 

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