Mythological fiction has emerged as a very interesting and intriguing genre in the field of writing. We see new authors coming up with refreshing new ideas of how these age old mythical stories could be written in today’s dynamic setting. With the many gods and goddesses, kings and queens, princes and princesses, instilled in our childhood memories it has become ever so exciting to pick up the next best book that caters to our never ending imagination and feed our hunger of more such tales of old times.
So, today we bring to you the 15 must-read mythological fiction novels written by Indian authors that are loved by all and few that break barriers of imagination and creativity.
Retelling of Mahabharta from Panchali/Draupadi’s perspective, Palace of Illusions is pretty unique in its approach. It sums up the epic in 360 pages with a perspective that many mythology enthusiasts would love to read that is from the woman around whom everything was happening. When we read Mahabharata we wonder what Draupadi would be feeling in those circumstances of her forced marriage to five, when she was put on stake in a chess game that went south. This book deals with her side of the story.
The most talked about Shiva mythological fiction is the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi. He is known for his storytelling and lucid writing. The way he brings fiction into Shiva’s story and weaves such an engaging narrative is commendable. Every mythology fan must read this trilogy, especially Shiva Fans.
In The Immortals of Meluha, the Tibetan immigrant, Shiva is the only hope of the Chandravanshi’s against the evil. The Secret of Nagas shows Shiva as the God, the destroyer of evil, now set to find the door of the Nagas with vengeance in his mind but nothing is what it seems to be. The third in the series, The Oath of the Vayuputras, is the final showdown between the destroyer of evil and his enemy who is feared by all!
A very intriguing fictional tale of Yuvanashva of Mahabharata, a childless King, who accidentally drinks a magic potion meant for his queens to bare children resulting in him giving birth to a son. This story is not intriguing for just this fact. It has many such characters blurring the lines of male-female, king-queen, son-daughter. It is about Yuvanashva, his mother who can never be a king because she is a woman, his son who surrenders his genitals to be a wife; of Arjun, who is forced to masquerade as woman after being castrated by a nymph. This one breaks quite a few barriers and present a very fictional yet relatable tale. It’s all these elements that makes it a risky, yet entertaining read.
If you love Sita or strong women, you HAVE to read this book. Volga’s Liberation of Sita is a very distinct take on Sita’s character. In this book, Sita goes around meeting other female mythical characters like Surpnakha, Renuka, Urmila and others. Through conversations with these women and listening to their stories, Sita finds her own way which resonates with the story of Ramayana too.
Tripathi pens another great mythological saga with his wand, this time around Ramayana. Not as proclaimed as the Shiva Trilogy, Sita: The Warrior of Mithila (the second in this series) is much better when it comes to plot and storyline. The first, Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku is from the perspective of Ram. The third installment in the series will give all the unique perspective of Ravana.
This series has Roll of the Dice and Rise of Kali as the first two books. Retelling of Mahabharata from Duryodhan perspective, this duology presents an elaborate plot, a different set of eyes registering the events of the epic and the writing just flows. One should read this for its unique narrative.
We have read Ramayana from Ram’s perspective, Sita’s perspective; but Asura tells the tale from the side that lost the battle. Asura’s, the declining clan, saw Ravana as a young leader and their only hope for development and prosperity. One such person, Bhadra narrates the story from his and Ravana’s perspective. That’s what makes this book different from the others written around a similar plot.
The author tells the story of Kalki, the 10th Avatar of Vishnu, as a hero, the one we all are waiting for since Krishna told the prophecy. The characters, the plot, the writing! Everything fits perfectly. It’s a feel good book with thrill and some wow moments. The second book in the series is to release soon so get your hands on this one before the next is out!
The series starts with The Winds of Hastinapur depicting the tale of Ganga and her struggle with each of her seven kids dead and the eight one left who will determine the future of Hastinapur, and Satyavati, who lures Shantanu into marrying her with the dream of making her sons future kings. The second in the series, The Rise of Hastinapur puts forth the story of Amba being setback by men who conspire against her, Kunti puts everything at stake to free her brother Vasudev and Gandhari with her dilemma to marry the bling prince of Hastinapur in order to save her motherland. This is Mahabharata like never before! The third installment, The Queens of Hastinapur, as the name suggests revolves around the different female characters, Gandhari’s attempts to secure her position to be the future queen, Pritha trying to make a place in her husband, Pandu’s, heart when he has taken a second wife. On the other hand, Kamsa making all efforts to take control over Mathura.
A strong retelling of Mahabharata with a touch of fantasy and fiction.
If you are looking for a new author, Manthan can fulfil your thirst for fiction on Kalki. A young Vasu is haunted by his dreams when Vishnuyash, his father, remembers that fateful night when he promised an old man who called himself Parashuram, that he will give away his son if he saves his pregnant wife. Later, Vasu comes to terms with his truth, saved by Ashwathama from an attack by Kalachakra, Kali’s disciple. The will to defeat Kali and realise his true destiny, Vasu sets on a journey that is guided by Krishna, Parashuram, Vishnu and above all his belief. HeManthan has the right dose of mythology with anecdotes and sayings from the holy book, and fiction with a bit of fantasy too. Pick this one if you wish to read something different on Kalki.
Yet another re-telling of Mahabharata but with more fiction and mythology at core. The first on the series, Govinda, centers around Aryavarta, the ancient realm of the noble with the Firstborn of scholar-sages and protectors of the divine order ruling over and the Angirasa family of Firewrights, weapon-makers and master inventors who have always defied the former. Soon, a battle is raged upon with Govinda Shuri as the cowherd-turned-prince commander of the armies of Dwarka to take charge. The second installment, Kauarva, brings in Emperor Yudhishtir and Empress Panchali Draupadi to rule over Aryavarta, given to them by Govinda after having defeated Firewrights with the help of the Firstborns. Now, the Firewrights have risen from the ashes and pledge to destroy Govinda’s Dwarka. With Yudhishtir gambling away his empire, Aryavarta too is at the brink of destruction. The last in the trilogy, Kurukshetra, deals with the ultimate battle. Govinda driven by fickle allies and failed kings sacrifices all to bring peace. The perfect dose of fiction in mythology.
With this book, Ashwin Sanghi weaves a historical fiction with mythology at its foundation. A young rich boy grows up believing he is the tenth avatar of Vishnu, and ends up being a serial killer. He is out executing people with his thought-out schemes in the name of God that looks like a conspiracy to expose an ancient secret. A historian now sets out to find Krishna’s prized possession in the submerged remains of Dwarka, to a Vrindavan temple destroyed by Aurangzeb. A sublime blend of history and mythology woven together by fiction.
Mrutyunjay, a Marathi novel later translated to English, comes off as an autobiography of Karna, the son of the Sun-God himself. In this particular rendition of Mahabharata, there are multiple POVs. The first few parts are from Karna’s perspective followed by his unwed mother Kunti, Duryodhana, Vrishali (his wife), Shon (his step-brother) and lastly by Krishna himself. It so much as deals with the different layers of Karna as a character with a realistic touch of being questioned about his birth and honour associated with that at every point in his life. Mrutyunjay voices these characters that had much less to say in the real epic. Karna emerges as the hero despite the atrocities he has been subjected to all his life.
Different from other books on this aspect of Mahabharata, Karna’s wife is a story told from Uruvi’s perspective, Karna’s wife. Karna was always considered an outcast, more like the unsung hero of the epic. This particular story brings forth Karna in the image. Uruvi, a Kshatriya princess who falls in love with Karna and chooses him over Arjun, comes to terms with the social implication of her marriage with Karna and finds herself helpless over his blind allegiance to Duryodhana. She is a spectator of the epic battle and the twists and turns Karna’s fate takes alongwith. A new refreshing perspective to Karna’s side of the story.
It is a fictional tale of the tenth avatar of Vishnu, Kalki. It’s 2025, Anirudh has dreams of Krishna’s life that are no ordinary visions. Soon he realizes his identity and destiny. But there is evil on the outset of bringing him down. Will he succeed in bringing peace to this world? Or was legend of Kalki a hoax created by Krishna?