Book Reviews

The below mentioned review was published on the blog Astute.
Cover Page - Age Of Hiblisk
Publisher’s write-up:
‘”Age of Hiblisk: A Story with a Soul” is the journey of Prince William and Princess Sara, the protagonists , through the magical and spiritual worlds of Pantolis, Hiblisk, and Ikra. As their voyage unfolds, they realize the true motive behind the terror employed by the forces of Dushtt to claim supremacy over the lands of Pantolis and beyond. Every new revelation brings to light the methodical madness employed by the dark forces and secrets of Mother Nature, which have been safely guarded for ages by the various civilizations of the secret worlds.
Their journey also introduces them to the divine forces that monitor the functions of the world and gives them access to legendary, mystical weapons and advanced spiritual knowledge which illuminates the flow of their understanding actions towards various aspects of life. They use the knowledge gained, to try and bring peace to their war ravaged lands and fight the ever growing might and influence of the mysterious dark forces that haunt their kingdoms.
Will the light of all that is divine, fighting under the banner of Prince William and Princess Sara, flicker away into oblivion against the might of the dark forces under Dushtt, or will they survive? … Only time in her womb holds the answer, potent enough to change the outlook of the very world we live in.’
Age of Hiblish: A Story with a Soul is a novel written by the Sumukh Naik, a HR professional turned author. This is his first novel although it might come as a surprise to some who have read the book without knowing that as the book hardly showed any characteristics similar to that of one written by a callow author.
To say something about this book in a few words is, it is nearly a standard fantasy novel with a good mix of adventure and philosophy, a prince and princess fighting against an evil plot threatening the very existence of their world, well written along with nicely constructed dialogues.
The story revolves around three worlds; Pantolis, Hiblisk and Ikra with Pantolis being the land inhabited by normal humans but for a few shamans and members of the order who ensure the smooth functioning of Pantolis whereas Hiblisk is a world of diverse magical creatures with unknown secrets and several unexplored lands and Ikra is an illusionary world.
The story begins in the world of Pantolis where in the border of the two quarrelling kingdoms of Jaguar and Ivory, weird incidents are taking place, trees turning black, a plague spreading and houses along with the people in it vanishing without a trace. The matter is brought to the prince of Jaguar, William who decides to help the village but in turn, gets trapped by the forces of Ivory while evacuating the villagers and gets forced into an unconditional surrender.
It was found out by the Eleventh Master, the chief of the Order that the person who was helping the Kingdom of Ivory was in fact, Dushtt, the son of his close friend Ratraa, the lord of the underworld. The Eleventh Master helps the prince escape the dungeons of Ivory along with his subjects and also, Princess Sara, the princess of the Kingdom of Ivory, a member of the Ivorian royalty against the conflict on Jaguar.
The Eleventh Master understands that William and Sara are two people with a pure heart and noble intentions and are people whom he can trust and blesses them with magical powers for their battle against the evil forces of Dushtt and sends them to the world of Hiblisk, in order to prepare them for the battle which would decide the future of Pantolis.
A really good thing that I liked about the way in which the author presented the story was that it was to the point, with hardly any digressions from the main plot although there was a lot of scope for it, such as, although there was a prince and princess carrying on a task together, no pages or chapters were wasted on romance, something for which the author ought to be appreciated. Elaborating on my other point about the perfect mix, there was an adventure, like in the case of any fantasy novel but with it, philosophy was also involved, and on several occasions, the author sounded like a philosopher more than a story teller, very interesting philosophies on nature and the balance between good and evil, on women, the duties of good people, etcetera, indeed making it a story with a soul; although, personally I may not agree with some of them regarding the limits which science shouldn’t cross but it would be best if I refrain from bringing in my personal beliefs into a review. The history of Pantolis and Hiblisk was also well narrated and to help the reader to keep track of the places, the publisher has so generously provided the maps of both Hiblisk and Pantolis and not to mention, the most important aspect of any book, the plot or the story too, was really good, although some might feel that the philosophical element to it was rather boring, I felt it was very much necessary (though I hardly felt that it was boring). A good plot when it is written well would be add more flavour to it and that is the case with this book, barring a few errors some of them caused due to oversight and some inexcusable phrases such as using few with the meaning of some and without using an article and also, very frequent usage of the phrase ‘comprises of’. It was also rather different, rather than focussing on the conventional battles of ‘goodies vs baddies’, it approached the whole task in a different manner with a lot of twists and turns; certainly a combination which any reader would look forward to.
The author constantly reiterates that the good aspects and evil aspects go hand in hand although the degree may vary and that happens to be the case even in the real world, including his book. To start off, the names were weird, really weird. Probably, at first the author planned a global audience for the book initially and the initial names were all sounding European (Pantolis sounded Greek to me) and if not, not Indian, to say the least, with names such as William, Sara, Pedro, Philip, Aaron, etcetera but eventually, distances were being measured in yojanas (ancient Indian unit of measuring distance, approximately equal to 5-8 miles) and suddenly a ‘Captain Sharma’ popping in and after around the 50th page, most names appearing were Indian. However, there is nothing so negative about this as it doesn’t affect the story in anyway and after all, what is in a name? The end too was rather abrupt but the way in which ended, I could only assume that the author is probably only planning a sequel. Another problem is, personally, I’m unable to categorise the novel, although I’m not sure whether it is because of my incompetence or by virtue of its nature since I’d certainly not say that it would appeal to all the young adults because of the excessive amount philosophy involved although it wouldn’t be seen as a hindrance to anyone who is interested in it or looks forward to learning such things and at the same time, being a fantasy, I’m not sure how this could be termed as a fully adult novel but if I’ve to choose one, I’d go for the former.
I think I can close this review here with the comment that it was really an enjoyable experience reading it and with all eyes being on the Shiva Trilogy right now in India for fantasy, I feel this too, deserves some attention. Since I felt that this book was really more than just good, I’d gladly award a rating of eight.
Rating: 8/10
Have a nice day,
Courtesy : Andy

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