According to me, one of the most important elements that go into the making of a book is the writer’s choice of words. However, in Anand Ranganathan’s The Land of the Wilted Rose, this basic element itself seems to have gone wrong. The first page itself is enough to put any reader off. At first glance, the writing seems forced and the sentences, too long and rambling.
The writer welcomes us to an era where Britain is a part of “the great Indian Empire”. Yes, the concept does sound a little intriguing though no justice has been done to this idea throughout the course of the book. It is a play on the colonization of India though here, it is Britain which is ruled by a 17-year old king who dominates almost all the regions of India. This king, referred to as Maharaja in the book, has been on the throne since the age of 12 and is quite the womanizer. He needs bathing attendants and has an instant affair with a woman who he later crowns as the Governess-General of Cyprus. If these examples weren’t already enough, the author gives more instances which prove that this 17-year old is really no teenage superhero.
However unique the concept might sound, it really is not explained well at all. This book is the first to a four-part series known as The White Mahatma Quartet. The ‘white Mahatma’ as one might guess is taken from the status that Gandhiji gained during the time of independence and after. Here, Britain yearns to free itself from the clutches of the evil Indian Empire and seeks a Messiah that will steer its boat ashore. This savior comes in the form of a certain Jack Riley who the reader realizes will be the ‘white Mahatma‘ that Britain needs.
On a general note, it seems as if the author has stretched this book more than required. The writing style is detailed but is a little irritating with the usage of too many words at once. The protagonist is the underdog in the book till the end but maybe that’s what the author intended to do. Well, imagination is a tool that any writer can transform into even an weapon if required; though in the case of this book, the imagination seems absurd (almost weird) because of the way it has been written.
I can only hope that the other three books in this series are more engaging. I felt that many characters were given unnecessary importance and this can even induce boredom in the reader. The book, which seems like a one-sit read because of its size is in reality something that you will have to devote time and attention to if you want to read it in its entirety. And no, calling the British ‘Caukrows’ (Caucasian cockroaches) is in no way a redeeming quality for this book.