There is no dearth of mythological fiction in India. In fact, nowadays so many Indian English authors write on this category that it deserves a separate section of its own in bookstores.
However, just because it is a popular genre doesn’t mean it is easy to write this kind of literature, which not only resides in the shadowy valleys between mythology and history but also manages to engage today’s social-media-addicted and always-scrolling-on-their-phones millennial readers.
There are only a few authors who have tasted success with this genre and if popularity is anything to go by, writer Christopher C. Doyle, whose previous series, The Mahabharata Quest, quickly created a stir among young adult readers, is definitely one of them.
In 2018, Doyle launched a new series called, The Pataala Prophecy with the book, The Pataala Prophecy: Son of Bhrigu. And, within a year’s time, the author is ready with the sequel of that book, titled The Pataala Prophecy: The Mists of Brahma which was launched earlier this month.
One of the qualities of Doyle’s books that perhaps makes him popular with the younger crowd is that unlike other writers of mythological fiction who only dwells in past, Doyle’s books interweave mythological lands and modern realities together.
The new book claims to have an amalgam of mythology, mystery and adventure, as the teenager protagonists of the series, Maya and Arjun, return to have a face-off with a new ruthless enemy. The book’s blurb also promises ‘an enigma, an ancient mystery’ that even maharishis fear, which needs to be solved to stop an impending doom on this world.
In the previous book, that is, ‘The Pataala Prophecy: Son of Bhrigu’, we first met Maya and Arjun as 15-year-olds whose simple lives were completely altered after the brutal murder of their favourite history teacher.
The book introduced a formidable mysterious antagonist, a ‘stranger’ who resurfaced from the Pataala after 5,000 years with the aim of destroying a secret society called the Sangha. However, Arjun and Maya joined forces with the Sangha (a secret society) to fight the stranger and if you want to know how that fight ended you’ll have to read that book. However, the sequel signifies that Maya and Arjun clearly survived that ordeal and is ready to dive into another mystery-solving adventure.
If you wish to know how the sequel of the book, i.e. ‘The Mists of Brahma’ begins, here is a section of the book’s preface, written by Christopher C. Doyle, for your reading.
‘The setback is only temporary, O Wise One.’ Shukra had been lost in deep thought. He stirred and eyed the Naga who had spoken, an enormous being more than 10 feet tall and all muscle, who towered over him as he sat brooding in his secret cavern. Encouraged by Shukra’s silence, the Naga continued, “Garuda will not stay at the Gurukul for long. His place is near his Lord, near Dwarka, the place where Krishna lived in Bhu-lok. If he hasn’t returned yet to his island, he will, and soon. There are more Gurukuls spread across Bharatvarsha. How many will Garuda defend?”
“There are the sadhs,” a second Naga, equally massive, added. “We now know the Sangha is weak. If we spread out among the sadhs, we can take Bhu-lok by ourselves.”
He allowed the hint of a snigger to escape him. “We won’t need the Daityas or Danavas or even the Mahanagas.” ‘Kuhaka, Kâlya,’ the third Naga, who had been silent so far, addressed the two Nagas who had just spoken. He was the largest of the trio, standing head and shoulders above the other two giant reptiles, and spoke with a tone of authority and superiority.
“You do not understand the thoughts of the Wise One. The Gurukul we attacked is where the One of the prophecy resides. We will achieve nothing if we create chaos and panic among the sadhs or destroy the other Gurukuls, as long as Yayati’s scion lives. And Garuda will defend that Gurukul with his life. We have to be realistic. We have to find a way to get the boy.”
“No, Takshaka.” Shukra spoke finally, as he rose to his feet. “You are correct about the boy from the prophecy residing in the Gurukul. But he is weak. He is not ready. I do not see him as a threat. He means nothing to me.”
“Then what do you wish us to do, Son of Bhrigu?” Takshaka asked. “The ranks have been restless this past week. They have not taken their defeat well. None of them had gone to the Gurukul expecting to be routed. Shall we mount another attack and finish off the boy before he has the chance to fulfil the prophecy?” Shukra shook his head.
“No, Takshaka. If I wish to kill boy, I won’t need the Nagas to help me. Even Garuda cannot protect the Gurukul if I bring my powers to bear against it. But there is always a cost. Even for someone like me. And, right now, that cost is not worth it. I have much work to do before my plans come to fruition. And I have learned what I needed for now. But you have raised a valid issue. Your troops need to be satisfied.” He paused. The three Nagas waited for Shukra to continue.
“Here’s what I want you to do,” Shukra began. The Nagas listened attentively. “You can’t be serious, Wise One!” Takshaka exploded as Shukra finished.
“You must listen and obey,” the Son of Bhrigu commanded, his voice stern. “What I have asked you to do is the only way forward for me.”
Takshaka and his companions stood uncertainly for a few moments. Then, with one accord, they bowed and left the Son of Bhrigu alone with his thoughts.
The following excerpt from the book The Pataala Prophecy: The Mists of Brahma, written by Christopher C. Doyle, has been published with permission from Westland Publishers. The book costs Rs 399 (paperback)