Saturday, June 28, 2014

Far Beyond The Dead End - Review

Millennia ago, the valley of Mohenja-Daro held one of the most organized and advanced civilizations for its time. Discovered in the late nineteenth century, all that was left of it now were ruins, and dead bodies. The mound of the dead, they called it, and rightly so. There were many dead bodies lying everywhere, and their stories were as mysterious as their states. What happened to the city of Mohenja-Daro? In a time when the city thrived, Koli was a seductive girl with an enigmatic charm. Sindhu lived with dreams burning in her eyes, and Girad with his burning passion for life. There were others, like the priest who professed to seeing a doomed future, a future cursed for all time. Their love, dreams, greed, mania and delusions formed a part of their lives, and added color to it all the way. A mysterious series of deaths follows a frantic hunt for lust, gold and glory, and they do not stop until they destroy the very foundation of the city. Or until they venture Far Beyond the Dead End, to be discovered in the remnants of the lost city thousands of years later.

About the Author
Saikat Bakshi is an Indian writer and mechanical engineer. He enjoys exploring the unseen alleys of life, and observing people as he goes along. He enjoys taking in history, literature and art as well as writing whenever he finds the time. This is his fourth novel and he has also written: Did You See The Joker?, Fallen Leaf, Weathered Wind and Something In Your Eyes: Smiling In The Sky.

The best thing about historical fictions is that they hold the promise to transport us into a world that we have visualized in pages, playing with our imaginations and painting an image that caters to our story seeking mind. History embraces the present and we are bestowed with the power to travel across times. The ancient world holds mysteries we know not, and the subtle excitement gradually leads to a hunger of uncovering what lies beneath.

The Indus Valley Civilization has always been a part of India’s historical legacy. The towns of Mohenjodaro and Harappa were supposed to be well planned, with advanced social and cultural life. The artifacts from that period had always been a subject for great study. However, among the numerous mysteries that lies hidden in the sand of times, the most intriguing one is of course the sudden disappearance of the civilization.

Saikat Baksi’s fourth novel ‘Far Beyond the Dead End’ is based in the city of Mohenjodaro. The intensive research of the author helps him in recreating the scenery that dates back to centuries, and it does feel real in the way he has depicted the culture and livelihood of the people during those times. An impending doom has been prophesied by the head priest that warns the native of the calamity that might fall on them if they fail to appease the lords. Sacrifices take place for this purpose, and several rumors flood the state.

The plot revolves around the lives of three inhabitants – Koli, Sindhu and Girad. Koli is beautiful, sensuous and intelligent and craves for freedom. She is like a free bird, dreaming to soar high and high on her own free will. Sindhu is her friend who always thinks of her good, advising her time and again on various aspects of her life. While Koli harbors special feelings for Sindhu, the latter doesn't reciprocate, leaving Koli and her father sad and distressed. In comes Girad, a merchant, who had always harbored a deep fascination and lust for Koli. With his trickery he convinces everyone that he is the ideal man for Koli, and succeeds in marrying her. However, his evil intents do come to light, but by then, it’s already too late.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part does a good job of framing a proper introduction to the plot, and brings forth the characters and their traits. It highlights the customs and traditions that were practiced during those days which help us relate to that period. The second part performs a decent task of taking the story forward, narrating the events that take place in the lives of the protagonists. It’s the third part that comes as a real shocker, when several secrets start tumbling, and what seemed obvious initially suddenly turns out to be overpowered by a more nefarious truth.

However, the thrill and the excitement that adorns the conclusion is sadly missing in the first and second parts. The story runs at its own languid pace which again is not a bad thing, but then the sudden urgency towards the end does disturb the overall flow of the story. Also, the much needed emotional content is missing in the piece. For a character like Koli, a reader would surely like to have an emotive and sensitive connect. The author focuses more on the events rather than the nurturing of the characters, and portraying their feelings and sentiments.

‘Far Beyond the Dead End’ is a good read. It’s not easy to pen down an historical fiction, and full credit to the author for taking up this genre and doing full justice to it.

Title: Far Beyond the Dead End
Authors: Saikat Baksi
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Publication Year: 2014
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Suspense and Thriller
No. of Pages: 240
Price: Rs 150
My Rating: 3/5