Cover Image: The Long Road to Nalanda

The Long Road to Nalanda

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Member Reviews

The Long Road to Nalanda is the first book in a new series by Thupten Lekshe. Released 28th May 2019, it's 306 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.

Based on a mythological retelling of India from thousands of years ago, this is an epic coming of age story telling the story of Abhi whose twin sister was sacrificed by her villagers in a ritual which should have taken both of their lives. She escapes being killed and eaten and begins her journey. 

There is a mystical/dreamlike aspect to the storytelling which seems to be more ritual and trauma based hallucination than actual magic. The value of the story for me was in the illustrations of different paths for enlightenment and the destructive costs of choosing anger and revenge. As Abhi travels further and learns more, her reactions change from the destructive and revenge seeking person she was.

It's an odd book, but very well written with lyrical and sometimes surreal descriptions. There is an included glossary with some background history and information. It's also worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become fond of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This could make a good selection for a comparative philosophy class for older students. I found the violence (sexual threat, child sacrifice, physical violence, ritual poisoning, parental abuse and neglect among other things) pretty tough going at a lot of points. It's a difficult read in some ways.  The prologue provides strong foreshadowing of the success of the protagonist's quest, but that doesn't make it much easier to read.

Three stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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I thought that this book was okay. I felt that the mythical elements in this book were fairly non-existent as there seemed to be very little that was of other-worldly aspect. Everything seemed to be based on the religion of real people rather than magical beings. 

The characters in this book seemed to have little to know characteristics or personality and seemed to be the personification of a singular emotion. Abhi is anger, her father guilt and everyone else was just annoying. It was clear that everyone had a strong motivation for their actions, but I felt that since we spend so little time in each of the five groups, I couldn't understand how what they were doing was important to their societal values. 

Each of the five groups seemed to have one trait that would make it hard to survive on its own, yet these groups all seemed to hate each other despite living in close proximity to each other. While we get to see all of these groups, the protagonist spends a lot of time hiding from the leaders of them and living in the fringes of the society so not much is known about them, making it hard to connect with the story.

The quick tour of the surrounding area forced too many characters to be introduced who had no lasting impact on me but were seemingly important to the plot, making the story quite hard to understand. This book had the potential to be great if it had been longer and more fleshed out.
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Unfortunately, DNF at 64%. I really wanted to like this book but I just found the main character very flat. And the zee stone thing was just a bit odd.
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