Author: Shubha Vilas
Stolen Hope is the third book in Ramayana: The Game Of Life series after The Rise Of The Sun King and Shattered Dreams. Authored by Shubha Vilas, the story continues during Rama, Sita and Lakshmana’s exile period in the Dandakaranya forests. Despite living a life of ascetics, the trio is happy in their own world amid sessions of storytelling. However, they are forced to encounter demons a couple of times but Rama defeats them comprehensively.
But a bigger misadventure awaits them when the demoness, Supranakha falls madly for Rama and, later, Lakshmana. Infuriated by her evil antics, Lakshmana chops off her ears and nose. When she narrates her sorry tale to her brother Ravana, the king of Lanka, she also mentions about Sita’s exquisite beauty. Being a lustful womanizer to the core, Ravana decides to ‘enjoy’ Sita at any cost.
Shubha Vilas has continued with his delightful writing this time around too and this is hardly a surprise. Almost every sentence of his is rich, free-flowing and gripping. Like his previous two attempts, it will appeal to those who love reading rich literature as well as someone from vernacular medium.
The story takes some time to develop properly though. But once it gets into the action mode, there is no looking behind. The most important sequence of Sita’s kidnapping is handled with a lot of creativity and maturity. Going by the theme of the series, the author has provided important and positive messages even during tragic sequences.
This book lives up to the tagline – Seek courage when everything, including hope, is stolen – with some handy messages of wisdom woven throughout the narrative. There are short wisdom snippets at the bottom of each page again. It’s just that on few occasions, they are quite lengthy this time around.
Apart from the slow pace early on, the book suffers from some sexism, like the previous one. In order to point Rama’s weakness, Sita taunts him for being a woman disguised as man. To consider any type of weakness as a byproduct of being a woman is downright sexist. Since the book is written for today’s generation and the fact that we don’t exactly know what Sita must have said to Rama, the author could have easily given any other analogy.
Coming to the appearance, the cover picture is a beautiful work of art. It forces you to glance at it again and again. The quality of pages is smooth and the font is eye-friendly. This book also has a flip book feature, which is a pleasant surprise.
Rating: * * * ½
Additional feature: Preview of the fourth book in the series
Price: Rs 299 (discounted rates available online)
Review by: Keyur Seta