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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

Sequel to The Simoqin Prophecies

Mishty Varma, PTI  New Delhi, December 15, 2005
First Published: 18:07 IST(15/12/2005) | Last Updated: 18:07 IST(15/12/2005)

The Manticore’s Secret

Part Two of the GameWorld Trilogy

By Samit Basu

Penguin Books

Paperback

Pages: 528

ISBN: 0-14-400067-9

 

The Manticore’s Secret is the spellbinding sequel to The Simoqin Prophecies: Part One of the GameWorld Trilogy. Once again, Samit Basu creates a mesmeric landscape bursting with weird and wonderful characters and a gripping narrative that’s complex, playful, sometimes sombre but always inventive.

 

A mysterious Dark Lord and his grotesque army threaten all that is good on earth… or do they? The heroic immortals who vanquished his rakshas father long ago have returned to do battle with the forces of evil. Which is good news… or is it?

 

In the shadows a secret society of shape-shifters battles deadly mind controlling foes who threaten history. Humanity and the future of the planet. A beautiful, amoral rakshasi plots world domination while a strangely civilised barbarian fights to save the world.

 

But the world is spinning out of control. Because the gods are back. And they want to play…

 

Excerpt from the “Prologue”

“Apart from the occasional croaking of a small and angst-ridden tree frog, the circular clearing in the heart of the Great Forest is silent in the darkness. The tree frog (Melnkohli flaikatcha) in question has a lot on his mind. He has spent most of his short life contemplating the historic injustice he has suffered – an old aunt his parents had owed flies to had been allowed to name him, and she had named him Sweetie Croak.

Sweetie’s somewhat limited vocabulary prevents him from launching into a moving speech, but from the anguished bulging of his eyes it is clear that his soul is in deep torment. It is all very tragic. But tonight, this clearing in Vrihataranya is about to witness an event of far greater significance than the desolation of Sweetie Croak.

Tonight is the night of the new moon, the third night of Tigermonth. From all over the world, followers of the rakshas Danh-Gem, living in hope of his prophecied return, have assembled in Vanarpuri for a great council. At this very moment, Angda, sister of Bali the vanar-Lord, isaddressing them. Great gongs are still ringing in the ancient vanar city, but the mighty trees of Vrihataranya have deadened the smalles echoes; not even a whisper filters through to the clearing.

In a small ruined temple outside Vanarpuri, the Brotherhood of Renewal has just assembled. It is a historic meeting; Bjorkun Skuan-lord and Omar the Terrible, Scourge of the Artaxerxian Sands, are meeting the Dark Lord-in-waiting. Danh-Gem’s heir, Kirin half-ravian, for the very first time. Their secret deliberations this night are going to shake the very foundations of the world.

But the cloaked conspirators of the Brotherhood do not know what is happening here, a few days’ march from their temple. Had the known, they would have been here. Here, where there is no hum of excitement, no animal night-song, no starlight; here, where there is only darkness.

And Sweetie Croak.

The clearing is no random space in the middle of the jungle; it has been worked upon by hand. There is a small pit in the clearing, hollowed with great skill into a perfectly smooth hemispherical basin, with a raised triangle of earth in the centre. Three large, perfectly spherical globes have been placed in the basin, one at each vertex of the triangle. The globes are made of a metal that is not of this world. It is a ravian metal, irichalcum, commonly knows as moongold.

Sweetie Croak croaks soulfully.

Sudden movement. Out of nowhere, a bone-dart suddenly whistles across the clearing and catches him in vocal sac, causing him to explore in a rude and amusing manner.

As his insides form an interesting pattern on the jungle floor, Sweetie Croak’s dying thought is this: If his aunt had been present at his death, she would have renamed him Splatty Croak. Which, all said and done, is a much more respectable name.

            He dies, slightly mollified. The silence is now complete.”

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