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Sons of Darkness cover art

Sons of Darkness

By: Gourav Mohanty
Narrated by: Homer Todiwala
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Summary

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON MEETS SUCCESSION IN AN EPIC REIMAGINING OF THE MAHABHARATA

SOME BALLADS ARE INKED IN BLOOD

Bled dry by violent confrontations with the Magadhan Empire, the Mathuran Republic simmers on the brink of oblivion. Senator Krishna and his third wife Satyabhama have put their plans in motion, both within and beyond the Republic’s blood-soaked borders, to protect it from total annihilation.

But they are soon to discover that neither gold nor alliances last forever – and that they are not the only players on the board.

Mati, Pirate-Princess of Kalinga, has decided to mend her ways and become a good wife. But old habits die hard, especially when one habitually uses murder to settle old scores.

Brooding and beautiful Karna hopes to bury his brutal past, but finds that destiny is a miser when it comes to granting second chances.

Hero-turned-torturer Shakuni limps through a path of daggers. Meanwhile, his foes and woes multiply, leaving little time for vengeance.

Their lives are about to become yet more difficult, as a cast of sinister queens, naive kings, pious assassins and ravenous priests are converging where the Son of Darkness is prophesied to rise . . . even as forgotten Gods prepare to play their hand.

©2023 Gourav Mohanty (P)2023 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

'An unforgettable wild journey set in re-imagined Vedic India' SF Book Review

'Like Game of Thrones in an Indian alternative universe... exhilarating... heralds the arrival of a special new talent' Dan Jones

'The sprawling scope of the epics with all the brutal and bleak nature of your favorite grimdarks. Complex geopolitical drama, strife, and military battles to rival the greats of the genre and will have you sitting by the seat of your pants. You're going to want to read this dark South Asian fantasy infused to the brim with Mahabharata and Malazan's DNA' R.R. Virdi

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Indian epic fantasy, at times brilliant

Mohanty is clearly a talented writer. I love the way he inspired the story on the epic poem Mahabharata, with which I was not familiar. Therefore I can unfortunately not make a comparison between both works. However, if I understand correctly, Mohanty set out to create a story of his own: to write 'Indian epic fantasy'. At that, he has certainly succeeded.

When I started Sons of Darkness I did not know what to expect exactly. Based on the marketing I had high hopes. And am always looking for a story that'll sweep me away. With imperfect, slightly dark characters I can relate to. Preferably also an intricate storyline with lots of intrigue and twists and turns. Yet, original and 'not tried before' .. So much for reasonable expectations I guess, because that is a lot to ask of any author. And I'm not a very patient listener either: it probably makes me and people like me a tough audiance to please.

However, when I started Sons of Darkness I was at first pleasantly surprised. Both the prologue as well as part one of the book are, I must confess, absolutely brilliant. The prologue and some of the chapters can also be considered 'grimdark'. Which is a more dark and raw subgenre of fantasy, usually featuring villains instead of heroes.

Mohanty sets out to introduce an interesting cast of characters that I could relate to very quickly and wanted to know more about. At the background is the clash between the Magadhan Empire and Krishna's Mathuran Republic.

From part two onwards, however, new points of view are introduced. And the main storyline kind of slows down in order to elaborate on some of the other events taking place simultanously (with these new POVs). But these chapters, though probably making sense from an author's point of view, to me felt very much like a lengthy aside. And in the end I started skipping some of these chapters.

Also, sometimes references to GoT and The First Law trilogy are too obvious and very unoriginal. For example: Shakuni is in my opinion too reminiscent of inquisitor Glokta (The First Law Trilogy-Joe Abercrombie), which could raise the question whether this (and just a few other parts of the book) are authentic enough.

All together, credit where credit is due: some parts of the book are absolutely brilliant and inspiring. Near the end the story features an epic battle. The narration is very good. Some POV could have been left out imo. And it would have been better if some references to other epic fantasy had been less obvious.

To conclude I would like to rate this novel 3.5 stars, but will settle for four as Audible only allows either three of four stars.

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