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The Forest of Stories (Book 1) (English)

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Language: English
Length: 376 Pages
Publisher: Westland
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The Forest of Stories (Book 1) (English) By Ashok K. Banker
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The Forest of Stories (Book 1) (English) (Paperback) Price: Rs.148

The Forest Of Stories (Book 1)  is the first in the series of books written by Ashok Banker on the great Indian epic, The Mahabharata.


Summary Of The Book

The story starts in forest of Naimisha, which is the setting for the narration of a part of the great epic, The Mahabharata, in this book. This book is the first in a series of around 18 books planned by the author in his bid to retell the Indian legend, and the story is carried forward by its subsequent sequels, The Seeds of War and The Children of Midnight.


The book begins when members of Kulapati Shaunaka’s ashram are startled with the arrival of a weary traveller. He turns out to be Ugrasrava Lomarsana, a Suta Pauranika, a reciter of histories and epics. He is also called Sauti, and is a disciple of Sage Vyasa himself. He brings the sad news of the death of the great Vyasa.


The sages at the ashram greet him with affection and respect, offer some food to eat, and give him time to recover from his long journey. Eventually, they ask him to recite to them the great epic composed by Vyasa. Sauti obliges and begins the story. Just like in the great epic, the beginning of the story is entirely disconnected from the crux of the great epic and its central characters.


The main characters are summed up in a small introduction by Sauti. Then the story branches out. It starts with the story of creation and then goes on to trace the lineages and stories of the various races that have been created - Nagas, Yakshas, Asuras, Devas, and humans.


The story of Parashurama is told in detail in this book. It begins with the stealing of the holy cow, Kamadhenu, from Sage Jamadhagni’s Ashram. It then goes on to narrate how the great Sage Jamadhagni is then killed by the king Arjuna Kartavirya’s sons. Parashurama vows his terrible vengeance, and sets out to wipe the entire generation of Kshatriyas off the face of the earth.


This book also describes the great Sarpa Yaga conducted by Parikshit’s son Janamejaya to avenge his father’s death and destroy all the snakes in the world. As foretold, this Yagna does not really succeed in what it sets out to do. The other story shared in this book is the well-known one of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, the couple that started the Bharata clan.


Through its varied stories that cover a range of different races and times, The Forest Of Stories (Book 1) sets the tone for the vastness and splendour of The Mahabharata.


About Ashok K. Banker

 

Ashok Banker is an author, and he is best known for his Ramayana Series, a fantastic retelling of the ancient epic that combines the traditional story with sci-fi and fantasy elements. The series was a bestseller and even spawned a TV series.


He has also written other traditional Hindu stories in the same style, and some of his books include Bridge of Rama, Siege of Mithila, King of Ayodhya, Demons of Chitrakut, Prince of Ayodhya, The Valmiki Syndrome: Finding the Work-Life Balance, Gods of War, and Bollywood.


In his retelling of The Mahabharata, Ashok Banker has refrained from modifying the story to cover other genres. The Forest of Stories (Book 1) is just a straightforward retelling of the original story. The story is narrated in his dynamic style, and this book serves as an excellent introduction to the series for the younger generations.


Ashok Banker lives with his family in Mumbai.

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Specifications of The Forest of Stories (Book 1) (English) (Paperback)

Contributors
Author Ashok K. Banker
Book Details
Publisher Westland
Publication Year 2012
ISBN-13 9789381626375
ISBN-10 9381626375
Language English
Binding Paperback
Number of Pages 376 Pages
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Book Reviews of The Forest of Stories (Book 1) (English)

TOP REVIEWS View All Top Reviews (13)

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★★★★★
★★★★★
Jeevak Shetty
27 Feb 2012
first to review
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a very mature read.....

I still remember the first time i read the "Prince of Ayodhya". I just couldnt put the book down!!! I finished it in a day and a half and the next day i went back to the library and borrowed "siege of mithila" I was not disappointed. In the same voracious manner i devoured the whole Ramayan series and instead of being satiated i craved for more and more (gluttony, in this case, is not a sin!!!). I bought three of the Krishna Series and I'm nearly done with them....
The MBA, on the other hand, was not what i expected....
To be fair to the author, he has warned us in the I...
()

I still remember the first time i read the "Prince of Ayodhya". I just couldnt put the book down!!! I finished it in a day and a half and the next day i went back to the library and borrowed "siege of mithila" I was not disappointed. In the same voracious manner i devoured the whole Ramayan series and instead of being satiated i craved for more and more (gluttony, in this case, is not a sin!!!). I bought three of the Krishna Series and I'm nearly done with them....
The MBA, on the other hand, was not what i expected....
To be fair to the author, he has warned us in the I...
I still remember the first time i read the "Prince of Ayodhya". I just couldnt put the book down!!! I finished it in a day and a half and the next day i went back to the library and borrowed "siege of mithila" I was not disappointed. In the same voracious manner i devoured the whole Ramayan series and instead of being satiated i craved for more and more (gluttony, in this case, is not a sin!!!). I bought three of the Krishna Series and I'm nearly done with them....
The MBA, on the other hand, was not what i expected....
To be fair to the author, he has warned us in the Introduction and i quote " This is not an epic fantasy. It's not a sci-fi rendition. It's not a futuristic version. If you're expecting any of those things, you're going to be disappointed". Ladies and gentlemen...no truer words have been spoken. I went into the book expecting it to be another Ramayan...It wasnt. What it is, is what it is...the Mahabharath...researched right down to the "T" (or rather the H). Banker has obviously put his heart and soul into his book...Its his greatest piece yet and he needs to be appreciated for that...but unfortunately the book doesnt appeal to me...maybe it will 10 years down the line when my life has slowed down enough to soak in and absorb all the intricate details...
Ashok K Banker, you have impressed me once again! you're an inspiration to all the young Indian authors out there!!! I applaud you.
(Flipkart....what can I say...you have managed to find a loyal customer in me!!! keep up the good work!!)

10 of 10 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
Aryan Vaid
17 Jul 2012
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certified buyer
Aryavarta brought alive!!

I first discovered Ashok Banker's Prince of Ayodhya in my school's library and since then I have eagerly read all of his works. His Ramayana, Krishna Coriolis and now the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is his magnum opus as he deftly strings together one story after the other. I loved it. In fact, some of the stories mentioned here are completely new to me which enthralled me. Go and pick this up now!!

4 of 4 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
Bidisha Sen-Desai
12 Mar 2012
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certified buyer
Wonderfully written

Pre-ordered this book from Flipkart, received it on the first day of it's release! wonderfully crafted stories taken from Mahabharata..flawless style of writing keeps the readers spellbound till the last page. This book is definitely worth reading. I am eagerly waiting for the part 2 of the MBA series...

3 of 3 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
Aritra Biswas
20 Jun 2012
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certified buyer
A re-telling of some classic stories. Very enjoyable read.

This book is not the Ramayana. And it is not written in the same style in which Mr. Banker wrote the Ramayana. Whereas the Ramayana flows from one book to the other in seamless perfection, this epic endeavor is written like a collection (indeed, a forest) of stories. Do not be too disheartened by that though. There is enough in this book to make for an absorbing reading experience.

This is the author’s telling of the great epic. This much he has stated in the introduction. And he has chosen to tell it via the narration of one of the characters in his tale. This has the effect of giving t...
()

This book is not the Ramayana. And it is not written in the same style in which Mr. Banker wrote the Ramayana. Whereas the Ramayana flows from one book to the other in seamless perfection, this epic endeavor is written like a collection (indeed, a forest) of stories. Do not be too disheartened by that though. There is enough in this book to make for an absorbing reading experience.

This is the author’s telling of the great epic. This much he has stated in the introduction. And he has chosen to tell it via the narration of one of the characters in his tale. This has the effect of giving t...
This book is not the Ramayana. And it is not written in the same style in which Mr. Banker wrote the Ramayana. Whereas the Ramayana flows from one book to the other in seamless perfection, this epic endeavor is written like a collection (indeed, a forest) of stories. Do not be too disheartened by that though. There is enough in this book to make for an absorbing reading experience.

This is the author’s telling of the great epic. This much he has stated in the introduction. And he has chosen to tell it via the narration of one of the characters in his tale. This has the effect of giving the reader a third-person view of how literary epics might have been passed down from one generation to another in days long past.

This book is indeed a ‘forest’ of stories. There are many large and small stories told one after the other, and in some places I found myself overwhelmed trying to keep track between them and got lost in the jungle. But I soon found that getting lost here has its own merits. There isn’t a plot here that connects the tales, just the occasional reminder of the narrator reciting the epic he learnt from his guru to an assemblage of hermits. The stories are to be enjoyed one at a time, and not as logically connected parts of a big epic.

Among the stories that are told here, I would rank Parasuram’s tale as the best. Those who have read Mr. Banker’s Ramayana would remember Rama’s encounter with his axe-wielding namesake on the way back to Ayodhya after his marriage to Sita. The author had given a brief background there on how ‘Rama of the axe’ became the legend he was. In this book, that story is told in brilliant detail. I almost felt like reading the Ramayana again.

Other stories include Garuda’s tale, Shakuntala’s saga, the Sarpa Sutra etc. These are also told in detail, but more like a recollection of events. The origin of gods and demons is also told in similar fashion, though it does get a bit dull due the author’s attempt to enumerate almost every noteworthy member of the devas and asuras. The churning of the great sea by the gods to obtain the nectar of immortality is also told in great detail.

I really missed Mr. Banker’s signature writing style in this book. However, I look forward to reading the other books in this series and hope he entertains us with more stories like that of Parasuram’s.

Flipkart’s service lived up to its reputation again. Great work there guys!

2 of 2 users found this review helpful.
★★★★★
★★★★★
Rahul Rajagopal
04 Jun 2012
Interesting Read!

I was introduced to the Mahabharatha epic through the evergreen Amar Chitra Katha vignettes and C Rajagopalachari's Mahabharatha. As a kid, the stories were sugar coated for my tastes and I was happy to gobble what ever was served

However this book seems to be a different version, where all the "goody goody" heavenly characters are portrayed as normal beings with all the regular misgivings any human being can have.

Truly enjoyed the parts in the book that told us the story of Parashurama and the tale of Dushyantha and Shakuntala. It was also interesting to see a lot of research....
()

I was introduced to the Mahabharatha epic through the evergreen Amar Chitra Katha vignettes and C Rajagopalachari's Mahabharatha. As a kid, the stories were sugar coated for my tastes and I was happy to gobble what ever was served

However this book seems to be a different version, where all the "goody goody" heavenly characters are portrayed as normal beings with all the regular misgivings any human being can have.

Truly enjoyed the parts in the book that told us the story of Parashurama and the tale of Dushyantha and Shakuntala. It was also interesting to see a lot of research....
I was introduced to the Mahabharatha epic through the evergreen Amar Chitra Katha vignettes and C Rajagopalachari's Mahabharatha. As a kid, the stories were sugar coated for my tastes and I was happy to gobble what ever was served

However this book seems to be a different version, where all the "goody goody" heavenly characters are portrayed as normal beings with all the regular misgivings any human being can have.

Truly enjoyed the parts in the book that told us the story of Parashurama and the tale of Dushyantha and Shakuntala. It was also interesting to see a lot of research. However chapters like the one where the author spells out the lineage of all the races, gods, animals, seems like an exercise to portray his research and does not really merit any literary excellence.

Barring a few, this book is mostly readable and indeed gives a different insight to the stories of lore that we have heard so many times over and over again.

2 of 2 users found this review helpful.

Recent Top Reviews

View all
★★★★★
★★★★★
swagat
23 Mar 2014
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certified buyer
interesting reading

some parts are too much detailed. it is difficult to remember so many names. otherwise, it was interesting to know about various stories related to parasurama, Janmejaya, garuda, satyavati, shakuntala, parikshit, and many others. overall, it is a good book and keep you hooked if you are interest... (View complete review)

★★★★★
★★★★★
Surya Narayanan
25 Feb 2014
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certified buyer
A Good Read for History lovers

Really good read and for someone who would love real epic over modified stories will love it. The way it has been put forth is appreciable, waiting for the third part of the MBA series. (View complete review)

★★★★★
★★★★★
Shashank Sharma
20 Jan 2013
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certified buyer
Surprisingly engrossing

I've always enjoyed the Mahabharata as a more enthralling tale that the Ramayana. As a kid, I used to sift through my grandmother's tome and read in random bits. I followed Ashok Banker's Ramayana series, and quite appreciated its modern re-telling and rather racy narrative, so I was quite excite... (View complete review)

★★★★★
★★★★★
Kushal Abrol
28 Dec 2012
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certified buyer
Certainly Not "Yet Another Book"

Even if you have watched, heard or read the Mahabharata many times in different forms, you will still have much more to learn and experience through this book by Ashok K. Banker.

The book elaborates many of the lesser discussed tales and mysteries of the Mahabharata in a descriptive and captivat...
(View complete review)

★★★★★
★★★★★
Shaunak De
13 Nov 2012
Engaging, Thrilling, Timeless

This is an interesting retelling of one of India's greatest classics. It is faithful to the original, and complete in every sense. Its not a simple translation, but a recreation of the epic.

The Mahabharat is a story of human nature. And the unchanging nature of the subject makes it timeless. Th...
(View complete review)

    Book: The Forest of Stories (Book 1) (English) by Ashok K. Banker
    ISBN Number: 9381626375, 9789381626375, 978-9381626375

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