The Prince of Naraka
by Sundar Nathan

"Of all my priceless lessons, The Teacher had said that day with a wry smile, the most valuable by far will be learning to suffer..."

Raa One is the prince of Asurapura, a tenuous but traditional nation located in the land of Naraka. He is on a seven-day trial of survival in the jungle, encountering strange creatures and uncovering dark secrets. But he carries within a significant means of passing this test: along with the religious lore of his clan, he has the words of a wise teacher that motivate and inspire in the ever-changing struggle. As well as learning the ways of the wilderness, he discovers secrets about the Devan clan that rules Naraka, witnessing the cruelty shown by them toward their underlings. He returns home four days late and much changed, having observed the perilous wilderness and the perfidies of his overlords.

Back home, Raa One finds that his sister Soo Pan, one of the delights of his family life, has disappeared, spurred by Raa One's over-long absence to explore for herself. A saga of murderous conflict follows with the ending always in doubt and Raa One's loved ones, including two warrior women, at its center.

Author Nathan grew up on the Ramayana and Mahabharata, classic Indian sagas which combine, as he has done here, elements of traditional Hindu beliefs, grand multi-faceted scenarios of intertwining rulers, religion and romance, and pure fantasy. Balancing these weighty portions is a feat that the author, who has created this novel as the first of two parts, handles with the skills of a wordsmith warmed to his task. In addition, he has subtly infused his work with an over-arching universalist viewpoint reflecting higher spiritual truths, represented in the words of Raa One's teacher. Nathan targets this complex tale to young adults, and no doubt older readers will also wish to immerse themselves in the new perspectives he brings to classic archetypes.

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