Publisher: APK Publishers
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Age of Hiblisk is a work in the fantasy adventure genre, written by debutante author Sumukh Naik. The story deals with the evils and perils befalling the land of Pantolis, which is divided into two empires – Jaguar and Ivory. It starts off on a mysterious note, with tragic incidents of black magic spreading through a forest, affecting the villagers dwelling nearby.
The prince of Jaguar, William and the princess of Ivory, Sara, are given the task of righting the imbalance in Pantolis by the ‘Order’. To do so, they must travel to the magical land of Hiblisk. The adventures they go through, and the lessons they learn from the various unique beings they meet form the bulk of the narrative.
On the positive side, the imaginativeness and the richness of detail in the work stand out. The description of the different races of Hiblisk was one of the highlights of the book. The Kikokers seem to form a sort of a utopian society, existing in a state of tranquility, gender equality and self-sustenance. The inventions of the Vimanikars, beings who dwell in the sky, are similar to scientific inventions we use today. The concept of good and evil was dealt with in a very scholarly manner in the part where the two young royals travel to Indravati. There was a trace of déjà vu though, it reminded me of the Vasudevs in the Shiva trilogy by Amish.
There is quite an influence of Lord of the Rings in some parts of the book; for instance, the part where the Mt. Ranges of Dust are described seems similar to the aura surrounding Mt. Doom. The Indravatikers seem to resemble the elves of the Inheritance series, with their ability to take on the forms of plants and animals at will. And lastly, since I’m doing comparisons with other books, there is also a Dumbledore-ish insistence on love being the most powerful magic of all; and a Mirror of Erised-like ceiling! The helpful provision of a map at the end of the book does wonders as an aid to understanding the geography of Pantolis and Hiblisk.
Taking a look at the less appealing parts, the opening section lacks in terms of pace. Although this is rectified as the tale progresses, this is a slight drawback in terms of first impressions. Also, there is a slight ambiguity with respect to naming of places and characters, with a few of them having names in Indian languages, and the rest in English. This creates an unrealistic impression; for instance, the Great Gorge of Florencia and Rajdhani are both part of the landscape in Pantolis. The character development of the Sage could have been better, given the importance of his role in the overall plot. The relationship between William and Sara, though interesting at the beginning, becomes a tad cliché as the pages go by. The narrative also tends to get a bit too melodramatic at times, especially where magic spells or illusions are concerned. The editing could have been improved too; a smoother flow of language would certainly have complimented the flow of thought of the author.
I’d say it was a worthy first attempt by the author, who has made good use of his imagination to create a fantasy world and who certainly has a message to share with the world. The language and overall lack of depth sometimes got in the way of a good read, though. It would certainly be interesting to see if the author decides to write a sequel to this book, and watch how the story pans out!