by Falguni Kothari
Available now on Amazon Kindle
“Once, gods and demons walked the Earth free as any man. There was a time of great feasts and warrior glory. Until that stupid game of dice!”
~ The Canons of Kali Yuga
Fight fate, or succumb to destiny?
In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.
Spanning the Cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child.
This is one of those books I’m conflicted about. On one hand, it has everything a fantasy epic could ask for – gods, mythology, an epic battle, and conflicted heroes. On the other, the style and pacing of the storytelling detracted from the story elements that should have made this a can’t-put-down book.
Based on the epic Indian poem, Mahabharata, Soul Warrior follows Karna, as he trains six godlings in preparation for the fulfillment of two opposing prophesies. His human daughter, one of the six godlings, is prophesied to be either the harbinger of doom or the slayer of souls – depending on whose prophecy you believe. Although rich with mythological characters and storytelling, I never really felt drawn into the story nor was I ever invested in the characters.
I’m not familiar with Indian mythology and there were times I felt lost. The author’s knowledge comes through in the story, but this may have caused her to leave out some vital explanation. I felt at times she assumed the reader would have as much knowledge of the Mahabharata and Indian pantheon as she does. I also struggled at times to keep track of who all the characters were as some of them were introduced with little explanation or context.
Soul Warrior ends in a cliff hanger, just after what I assumed was going to be the epic battle between good and evil. Not so much. 90% of the book was spent building up to this epic battle and it was over in less than 2% of the book. I had to go back and re-read the last few pages a couple of times to make sure I didn’t miss anything (my math isn’t off, the rest of the story was on the romance between Karna and Draupadi, the celestial mother of the godlings).
I wanted to like Soul Warrior more than I did. I love epic fantasy fiction that puts a different spin on established tales, i.e., retelling of an epic Indian poem. However, at times the story rambles on and does little to progress the plot. I found myself skimming entire passages. This is when a good beta reader or editor would come in handy to help the author pare down the story for content and pacing and make sure she added context so those not familiar with the story would be drawn in.
About the Author
Falguni Kothari is a New York-based hybrid author, and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful and cultural threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. She’s published in India in contemporary fiction with global e-book availability, and will launch her mythic fantasy series, The Age of Kali, in November of 2015. When not writing or dancing or being house-wifey, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with readers.
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