This first part of an epic poem introduces the royal families of ancient Greece and India and reveals their burden of responsibility.
This ambitious debut work seeks to reanimate the worlds of two very different ancient civilizations over the course of 24 books. Part 1 consists of the first eight books in the series and opens in Greece with an envoy arriving at King Solon’s palace with news of a great flood. Instructing a disgruntled Prince Diokles to watch over his lands, Solon gathers his troops and, at sunrise, heads east for the flood zone. Accompanied by Meletus, a great fighter, and his son, Elasus, Solon aims to provide aid to the poor souls whose world has been crushed by the wrath of Poseidon. They meet Alanam, a wise old man who tells of how thieves descended on his town, slit his wife’s throat, and took his son. On learning this, Meletus vows to return Alanam’s son and seek revenge. The narrative then shifts to India and introduces the royal family headed by King Sarvagya, including Queen Radhasati, Prince Dharmajyoti, and princesses Esha and Isani, whose luxuriant lives at first seem effortless, yet appearances prove deceptive. Set in the period following the Trojan War and the flood of Dwaraka, this poem may be difficult to follow for those unfamiliar with Greek mythology and the Sanskrit epic of ancient India, the Mahabharata. Background information is not forthcoming, and Bhattacharya’s text would greatly benefit from annotation. But the language is richly detailed and evocative of classic epic poetry, from Beowulf to Gilgamesh. When describing the “Dark Riders,” a band of feared warriors, the poet writes: “The faces—horrid faces—that are scarred / With marks and scabs that bleed a ghostly pus / As white as snow when struck with jagged spears, / The bane of gods that gave them death in life.” The passage is utterly captivating and draws parallels with Milton’s revered description of archfiend Lucifer in Paradise Lost. Bhattacharya is a talented and elegant writer who is breaking new ground by fashioning an epic poem from this little-known story. Illustrated throughout with full-color artwork by debut illustrator Fabre, the result is a lavishly described adventure that spans continents.
This precise, melodious poem about two ancient civilizations could benefit from notes for the uninitiated.