Title: Age of Amzoq: The Valantian Imperium
Author: Rajamayyoor Sharma
Category: Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Self Publsihed (2018)
Price: 499/ Kindle edition (free)
Serious fantasy fiction lovers have one more reason to rejoice- The Valantian Imperium, the first book in a series called The Age of Azmoq, is finally set to captivate readers into a fictional world where a gripping saga unfolds.
A series of events…
The protagonist, Dev, works as a shop assistant in Villasboro, a self-contained village where the last ‘outsider’ had come three centuries ago. Not surprisingly, the extended presence of an outsider makes one of the villagers worried. This sets the ball rolling. Dev befriends the visitor. A series of events follow that leads the young unsuspecting boy into a long and dangerous adventure.
On his journey he befriends Karn and Eric, two brave people who stand by him. The three have their own reasons to get together for a common goal. On a quest, the reason for which is revealed as one reads the story, they have a series of adventures and unique experiences. They learn mysteries of the mind from nomads, fight with soldiers and escape death a multitude of times. Grim, who is Dev’s employer, also plays a vital role in the story.
These three individuals have an individual goal they want to achieve. Little do they know, that a more supreme cause waits them. It is to do with Azmoq. Azmoq is a magical metal that holds a supreme power thanks to its properties. Those who control Azmoq control the world. The ‘fight’ for this control is the crux of the entire story.
The world he creates:
One of the biggest challenges of writing fantasy fiction is actually creating a fantasy world. This book is set in Valantia. The continent of Valantia is vast and exists in a world with five oceans and seven continents. The Valatian Imperium rules the continent. However, after a revolution against the rulers, there seems to be a witch hunt for the revolutionaries. Amidst this, there is a trio of dedicated young men who are on a mission to seek justice.
The author creates a believable fantasy world, replete with the minutest of details. For instance, one of the key villages where the source of action begins, is Villasboro. Not only do we know about the very different and unique personality of people there but also mundane details like their monetary system and so on, complete with explanatory footnotes! He also invents the fictional language Deusorthok, that is used in the book at some places. The appendix at the end of the book explains the entire creation and functioning of the government- The Valantian Imperium.
There is a lot of elaborate history of this fictional world- how it was created, who ruled it and how the order was now threatened. The author uses footnotes at various points in the story to introduce finer details about this world. He gives the reader a choice as to whether he wants to read the footnotes and understand the setting a little better, or move on with the story. This makes the place alive in the mind of the reader.
The pace is leisurely though the novel is filled with many details. This is not a regular quick weekend read. It is a book that needs to be read with time on hand.
However, despite the length and the plethora of details, it never gets tedious. Something new crops up in every chapter which adds to the element of suspense, and you just want to know what comes ahead.
Another element which keeps the excitement going is the changing narrative. The novel switches between the first and third person, thus adding to the element of interest. It also experiments in the narrative- parallel stories across time are narrated and the loose ends come together. The book starts off with Dev as the narrator but there are instances when the story is in the third person or when another character takes the narrative strings in his own hands. The story also oscillates between the past and the present.
For me, this experimentation in taking the story forward and building added to the experience of reading the novel.
Everything is political
On a basic level, this is a good versus evil story. The underlying theme is the quest for power by controlling Azmoq. A lot of themes emerge in the novel- the dangerous nature of power, the ambiguity of what is good and what is bad, the nature of true friendship, the futility of war and most importantly the nature of government and how governments can control the minds of people.
At a deeper level the story is also about power and how those in power, manipulate it in order to control the general public and retain the power. When it comes to power politics it is difficult to understand what is good and bad or right and wrong. Can society be controlled and manipulated by those in power, even without the victims being aware that they are being controlled? On careful reading this aspect comes out strongly.
Consider this quote by Karn:
“There are many forms of oppression. The cow that fills the land doesn’t think that it is oppressed. It gets beaten twice a day and its masters tell it repeatedly that it’s forefathers world get beaten every hour,”
Or, what one of the opposition assassins tells the protagonist:
I killed a man I didn’t know, for rulers I have never met....your friend never had a chance. If not me, there would have been some other assassin who would have come to kill him. As long as the Imperium dictates who lives, who dies....there is no true...choice
The theme of authoritative powers controlling the entire perception of a society recurs.
As another wise character puts it,
“Reality was finally, a convergence of infinite perceptions. Our perceptions were being increasingly bound by the information we possessed, which was being molded and controlled by the rulers of our land. There was no avenue available to anyone to shake the shackles placed on their mind by the Valantian Imperium. This made it easy for the Imperium to hold onto power, while we languished and suffered without even realizing it,”
Elsewhere in the novel a sage talks about the four key components that are needed to lay concrete foundation for a successful and sustainable society, thus cementing this philosophical angle.
Wars make up an integral part of the novel. Both the futility and the necessity of war is something that is sensitively brought out in the story.
The turn of events spirals towards a satisfying conclusion...or rather a pause. For though things are good for now, the varied incidents in the story have set in motion a chain of events that will change the world forever. And the story will continue...
Looking forward to the next book.
Grab a copy here:
Grab a copy here: