Monday, November 16, 2015

Equilibrium by Paras Joshi

Paras Joshi
236 pages, pulp fantasy

Thank you to Fingerprint! Publishing for providing a review copy of this book.

According to his author biography, Paras Joshi’s friends call him the “Paolini of the East.” I find this comparison rather appropriate, both because of his age (21 when this book was published) and because of the quality of his writing.

Equilibrium seems to be two different books, and the transition is rather startling. The first section is a heist story, in which a ragtag group of thieves attempts to steal treasure from the highest-security building in the country, which, by the way, is apparently a dystopian society with a huge gap between the rich and the poor. With little background, we are introduced to our hero, Arya, who, despite having the same name as the female Game of Thrones character, is male. Arya may be young, but he’s a great thief because he has a magic key that opens any lock.

After the heist goes wrong and Arya is the only one to (miraculously) escape, the Lord of the Rings fanfiction begins. Arya is rescued from a shadowy, evil being by a member of a wise, humanlike species and is taken to the “House of Ayrof.” This is where he is told by the Saatvikas, the magical elders, that the Ring of Aavaasya (that Arya stole in the first section) is magical, and needs to be taken back to where it was created in order to prevent the apocalypse. Gathering a group together, Arya and the elders set off to return the ring to where it came from.

Sigh. You see the similarities. 

The time period and level of technology of this world is very unclear. At times, the story appears to be set in a future with very advanced technology; at others, it seems to be set in a medieval period. It is ironic that Joshi did not provide consistent details when setting the scene, since a majority of this book is taken up with descriptions, either as narration or as characters telling each other something. While Joshi tries to describe the political situation, it ends up being a disjointed, dry description of events and political parties that does not make the reader care about the characters or what is happening. There is a civil war going on, but it is unclear why I should care. There are some sort of ongoing trade problems, but I don't know why that is important. Most of what Arya does (and therefore most of what the reader is privy to) is listen to or follow the other characters; his active actions are confined to stealing the Ring, which he does on accident, and, in the very last pages, performing magic.

Many of the problems with this book stem from the youth and inexperience of the author. I hope that he will learn from this critique and produce better work, with less description and more action, in the future.

This book might be worth a read if you like fantasy and you want something pulpy to read on the train. I wouldn’t recommend it for anything else.

Equilibrium is available from Amazon US/UK/IN and flipkart

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