A unique, entertaining attempt to reconcile the ambiguities of an ancient myth with its archaeological record.

The Making of Bhishma

From the Great War, Re-Imagined series , Vol. 1

In this debut installment of Ramakrishna’s retelling of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, warrior Devavrata Bhishma recounts a long road of intrigues and misunderstandings that led to his renunciation of a crown and the eventual eruption of a war.

Devavrata is captured by his grandnephew Yudhishthira and mortally wounded by his former lover, Amba. Knowing that the arrowhead lodged in his lungs could kill him at any time, he agrees to tell Yudhishthira his life story. He starts with his mother’s suicide, which was caused by the harsh limits on the number of children that Devavrata’s father, Shantanu, had placed on Hastinapura families. After her death, Shantanu fell in love with a Naga girl, Satyavati, who—to protect her future children—demanded that Devavrata give up his royal claims. Devavrata had fallen in love with her as well and yielded to her desires, but they treated each other as enemies ever after. Tragedies haunted Devavrata through the four regencies he served, including the mysterious death of his nephew Chitrangada, which earned Devavrata the title of Bhishma (“The Terrible”), and the murder of his only son, Shikhandin. Yudhishthira and Vyaasa Shukla—Satyavati’s brother and the leader of Hastinapura’s society of poets—listen and contribute to Devavrata’s tale as the archivist and mnemonist Lomaharshana preserves the words for posterity. As they each take turns illuminating their corner of the story, it’s a joy for readers to watch how the characters, and their understanding of each other, shift. Ramakrishna’s explanations of the relevant traditions of Hastinapura, and the other societies around it, help to pace the heavier revelations. He also uses Devavrata’s descriptions to capture the Hastinapuran civilization, drawing from historical records and explaining details in appendices and frequent asides. The sheer amount of reference material can be overwhelming, especially when it repeats itself—for example, the etymology of the name “Drona” is explained three separate times—but the complex narrative and sociological elements justify its inclusion.

A unique, entertaining attempt to reconcile the ambiguities of an ancient myth with its archaeological record.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-939338-05-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kashi Software Architects

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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