Monday, November 28, 2011

The Iron Tooth

The latest entrant in the children’s fiction genre, Prithvin Rajendran’s ‘The Iron Tooth’ is a tale of fantasy and adventure set in the fictional land of Goodabaiya. The book begins by narrating the story of a young girl, unmarried and pregnant. She is thrown out of her home and makes a new home for herself at the foothills of the Mala Mountains, where few people dare to live. When she gives birth on a dark stormy night, she has two babies – one human and one troll.
The girl’s story that forms the prologue of the book is then linked to the events in the story at the end. Meanwhile Chapter 1 opens with the story of Dashter, a great and mighty kingdom ruled first by a good king, Dashtum and then by his equally strong but evil son, Darum.
King Darum is hated by his people who repeatedly rebel against his unfair and tyrannical practices. Darum does not really care for the opinion of his people, he is happy to enjoy the luxuries of being the most powerful man in the kingdom.
Princess Nova, Darum’s eldest child, is exactly like her father – arrogant, selfish and rude. When she insults the master magician, Faerum, he curses the entire kingdom of Dastur and imprisons Nova for the rest of her life.
The book then introduces us to the kingdom of Greatix, which is also the home of our protagonist, Princix and his family. Setting out on an adventurous quest for fame and wealth, Princix, who is both kind and brave, wins magical weapons that help him to become the Champion General for the kingdom of Greatix.
Princix’s first duty as Champion General is to find out who has cursed the neighboring kingdom of Dastur and help them lift the curse. To this end he sets out with two other Imperial Guards, Candelbre and Hammil. How Princix fulfills his quest and discovers the all-important iron tooth, (from which the novel gets its title), forms the rest of the story.
The story begins rather slowly, but becomes more readable as it devolves into the customary framework of fairy tales - that is, sending off a hero to a quest, in the course of which he also finds out about an imprisoned Princess and chivalrously decides to rescue her.
Other elements that help create the fairy tale atmosphere include the hero who does not know his own heritage, the sage who foretells the destruction of the kingdom and its resurrection by a stranger, an evil magician who will curse the kingdom, the Princess who will directly or indirectly cause the trouble, brothers who are jealous of their youngest brother who is vastly more successful, grateful strangers giving magical weapons in return for help rendered… all well entrenched examples from popular fairy tales. Rajendran has faithfully followed the fairy tale genre to give us a tale full of the fantastic and displays his own rich imagination and inventiveness in the process.
In the introduction to this, his first book, Rajendran tells us that his influences are the stories of mythical creatures that his mother used to tell him and the action figure toys that his dad bought for him.
The pages naturally are filled with fabulous, mythical creatures. There are vampires, trolls, Medusas, fairies from the Saxeaxs family, an immortal Custodian of the First Light, zombies, ghouls and creatures from the author’s own imagination such as the elite soldiers, the Baks.
I certainly felt that the cast of characters was overcrowded. Some of these mythical beings have very little to do in terms of furthering the plot but on the plus side, no one is going to complain that their favorite fantastic species is not mentioned in the book!
In terms of characterization, some stereotypes are inevitable because of the fairy tale genre, and do not detract from the book. I am surprised though that Rajendran was happy with such a tame portrayal of the Princess. After all, this is the 21st century, where princesses no longer sit around waiting for rescue. Quite often, they are the ones doing the rescue act so to meet someone like Nova who cannot do anything but repent her actions is a bit of an anticlimax for me!
Rajendran uses a medley of languages in the novel – there are brief snatches of various languages including one invented by the author, the language of the Bak. Both old and modern English are used throughout the book. And verse finds a prominent place in the text as well. I sometimes found the variety bewildering but the challenge may appeal to a younger audience.
In terms of plot, there is certainly completeness to the novel. The story gallops from one adventure to another, neatly picking up loose ends along the way so that by the end of the book, everything is neatly tied up. There is loving attention to detail both during the story and after the book, in the appendices which include a chronology, maps, a translation of the Bak language,Nivthrip and more.
‘The Iron Tooth’ is definitely an interesting read and I look forward to seeing how Rajendran’s next book turns out! Thanks to Blogadda for the review copy.
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1 comment:

  1. I was thrilled to see your wonderful review. It really warmed my heart. You have given a very comprehensive view of the book which is really encouraging. Awesome!!! Thanks.