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Books to read this weekend

From Wilbur Smith's Those in Peril to Ashok K. Banker's The Vengeance of Ravana, this week's book shelf is a bohemian medley of adventure, spirituality, mythology and history.

books Updated: Apr 22, 2011 06:21 IST

This week's book shelf is a bohemian medley of adventure, spirituality, poetic sorties into nature, mythology and history.

1. Those in Peril; Written by Wilbur Smith; Published by Pan Macmillan-India; Price: Rs.325

Hazel Bannock is the owner of the Bannock Oil Corporation, one of the major oil producers. While cruising in the Indian Ocean, her yacht is hijacked by Somalian pirates and her 19-year-old daughter Cayla is kidnapped. Major Hector Cross is an ex-SAS operative and the man behind the Cross Bow Security - Bannock's security agency.

The pirates demand a crippling ransom for Cayla's release and complicated, political and diplomatic sensitivities render the major power incapable of intervening. With growing evidence of the torture Cayla is subjected to, Hazel calls Hector Cross to rescue her daughter. A dramatic chain of events is unleashed...

2. While I Write; Selected poems by K. Satchidanandan; Published by Harper-Collins India; Price: Rs.299

The poet's oeuvre is marked by a keen awareness of his roots and an endearing intimacy with nature because he grew up talking to cats, crows, gods, spirits, the wind and the rain. From these sensitivities are born poems that are global in their outlook and concerns and hide the many layered realities of the world around us.

His pen moves from the real to the surreal, from the revolutionary to the existential, with admirable ease.

3. Giver of the Worn Garland (Krishnadevaraya Amuktamalyada); Translated by Srinivas Reddy; Published by Penguin-India; Price: Rs.250

The emperor Krishnadevaraya's epic poem depicts the life of the medieval Vaishnava poet Andal or Goda Devi as she is known, and her passionate devotion to Lord Vishnu. The king's poetic imagination brings to life a celestial world filled with wonder, creativity and vibrant natural beauty.

The emperor believes that god is everything and the pantheon is re-imagined as living persons in the poet's mindscape. It is one of the best examples of Bhakti rasa.

4. The Vengeance of Ravana (Book Seven of Ramayana); Written by Ashok K. Banker; Published by Penguin-India; Price: Rs.299

Ravana is dead. The threat of the Asura is over. At last Rama is on Ayodhya's throne seeking to live in peace with beloved Sita. But the peace does not last because evil never dies. It only changes form and shape. An old enemy breaks free of his subterranean prison to convey a shocking message. An army arrives at the gate of Ayodhya, led by a mysterious being bearing a terrible weapon.

And Rama has to decide, and probe, whether it is his dharma or fight the being or is it a plot orchestrated by the spirit of Ravana.

5. The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company; Written by John Keay; Published by Harper-Collins; Price: Rs.399

Over two centuries the East India Company grew from a loose association of Elizabethan tradesmen into the grandest society of merchants in the world. It was a huge commercial enterprise that controlled half the world's trade and administered an embryonic empire. A tenth of the British exchequer's revenue sustained itself on the customs receipts on Britain's imports.

The historian reconstructs the epic of the expansionist endeavours from the journals and records of the company's employees.