At the start of the year, I vowed to read more books, start working out, and
stop masturbating get a girlfriend. It’s now halfway through the year and the only I’ve succeeded in doing is read more books and do 3 reps of sit-ups and 2 reps of push-ups in the morning. I can’t afford a 45 dollar gym membership because I don’t have a job yet. But if there’s one thing I, my money, and my persistence in searching pirated e-books online can pull off is a good book.
Two weeks ago, I saw this particular book on the shelves of Periplus (that’s an Indonesian bookstore that sells imported books). I gotta admit, I fell for the title and the catchy cover. I looked at the price tag and it was only 11 bucks, so what the heck, I picked it up and brought it to the cashier. Five days later, I finished the 400-page book of awesomeness. That was quite slow for me, since I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the adult version published by Bloomberg, which is 700 pages in length) in only three days.
I am now searching for the other Pantheon Series, specifically Age of Zeus. Damn its really hard to find good books in Indonesia.
Zachary Bramwell, known as Zak Zap, draws comics for a living. One day, when he goes out for coffee, he gets nabbed by a group of Men in Black. He is then brought in front of the bosses of the Trinity Syndicate, who want him to design costumes for a team of superheroes. Given the rewards, Zak accepts the offer. The superheroes that the Syndicate endorses are based on Hindu mythology, the Ten Avatars (Dashavatara, in Sanskrit). Normal humans are turned into superheroes through a process called “theogenesis”, a really complex biochemical alteration of the body’s genetic sequence and mind. Once the costumes are designed, Zak gets a front row seat to every nerd’s dream: seeing real-life superheroes fight demons known as asuras.
But is that really all to it? Is this just about creating superheroes for the sake of the world? It turns out that the Syndicate is hiding a big, dirty, corporate secret that could possibly bring an end to the final yuga in the Hindu universal cycle, the Kali Yuga, and only Zak and the Ten Avatars of Hindu lore can stop them.
My Thoughts on This
Hindu lore wrapped up in an awesome, fast-paced military action novel? Color me interested. Being a Hindu myself, I loved how James Lovegrove caught the essential traits of every Avatar in Hindu lore. For those who are curious of what the Avatars are, try a Wikipedia search. Beyond capturing the Avatars’ traits, Lovegrove added more to the awesomeness by making them as superheroes, something I don’t see very often in the sci-fi genre.
The pace of the story is sometimes slow and most of the time breathtaking. There’s adequate exposition on the powers and mechanics of theogenesis, which means “creating gods”, and the evil plot of the Trinity Syndicate. There’s also a short, sex scene too. The action sequences, on the other hand, are fast-paced, like you’re reading a comic book. Which connects nicely with the main character being a comic book nerd. Whenever it’s about the Ten Avatars chasing down the Trinity across the globe or fighting asuras or engaging the Pakistan military or stopping a nuclear crisis, Lovegrove makes all of that action feel like you’re actually experiencing it first-hand.
But what made the book truly amazing was Lovegrove’s predictions and insight on the Hindu grand cycle near the end of the book. Since I had a basic grasp on Hindu lore and teachings, I thought Lovegrove’s insight was a plausible theory on how the world would end. Heck, the entire book can be considered Lovergrove’s theory on how the Kali Yuga would end. Human avarice, wrath, and Dharma only standing on one leg, only to collapse from the burden of man’s evil. It was well-researched and well delivered.
The only minor flaw of the book was the lack of depth, especially concerning the backgrounds of the Avatars. The occasional footnotes only help reveal a very small portion of an Avatar’s background. I would’ve loved to read how a Japanese equestrian was chosen as one of my personal favorite Avatars in the book, Kalki the Horseman. But then again, there are TEN Avatars. It would really be a pain to write TEN background stories.
Nice novel, really worth the 11 bucks I paid for it. Especially recommended for those of Hindu religion or those interested in Hindu lore. If you’re looking for a nice action novel with a nice mixture of fantasy and military action, go no further than this. Heck, I would recommend the entire Pantheon Series based on this book alone.