An Indian author’s book in my hands, and I begin to judge. Not because all Indian authors are bad but because there’s one life to live and so many classics to be read. That being said, with a heavy sigh I open the book ‘The bard of blood’ by Bilal Siddiqi. It’s fate unpenned.
When I say judge (not that I am proud of it), I mean, I weigh each and every word chosen by the author, even dedications and acknowledgements. The dedication and acknowledgment made me smile. Giving a deep insight into how this author feels and thinks. Perhaps the only giveaway of his personality? Getting to know a first time author is as important as reviewing the book. To know whether the author is to stay or sway.
However, a cautionary note, I am not going to review this book laying more weight and consideration on the age of the young author, Bilal Siddiqi. I am reviewing this on the basis of how much enjoyment I derived per page and how many times I left the book in the middle to alternatively use my time as an outcome of the book failing to grasp my attention.
This book feels more like a commercial piece of work rather than good literature. The problem with commercial writing is that it’s always inspired from elsewhere, something out of a movie perhaps or something fit for a movie? The theme is nothing new. There is lack of originality, lack of something that is out of the ordinary, lack of it being path breaking in it’s own genre, lack of it being a game changer by setting new rules for similarly themed books.
A closer look at the synopsis behind the book in itself seems like something that we have seen or known too often, making it predictable and very easy to guess. You know how they say “the plot thickens”? The plot here evaporates. Just another terrorism based thriller with bomb attack being planned in India. In fact, the subtitle “The secret war in Balochistan is about to explode” is quite deceptive, and should probably have been “The secret war in India is about to explode”.
There is no doubt that the book is well researched, but the story got lost somewhere in between the research. What should lead a reader from A to B, is taking a detour too many to get to the point.
In my opinion it is an average non engaging book which is a page turner for all the wrong reasons, like wanting to skip out the research, unless you want a mini tour guide to Quetta. The visualizations that the author presents to the reader are picked up from regular Hollywood action flicks.
Characters are weakly etched. The author hasn’t gotten into the skin of the characters that he builds. Some characters are even irrelevant and diversity within them is largely lacking, they do not tug your emotions or feelings.
Kabir: Lacks strength, charisma, and masculinity
Nihar: Irrelevant and fit only for a desk job, no idea why he is in Quetta at all! Author expects the reader to believe that a day into a high potential war like situation demands someone who has girl like issues that he cannot solve, the very issues which have no basis and get dissolved after a few chapters, indicating that the author only thought it necessary to bring up a weak issue to acquaint readers with the lead protagonist’s past by trying to build an even weaker mystery around it. A mystery that didn’t really set my heart racing.
Isha: This character has not been developed at all.
Thrill and mystery element is lacking severely in the first two parts of the book. It seemed like the entire Balcohistan episode was forceful, and created only to get a computer to help identify the final attack location. There are too many ‘pregnant pauses’ and ‘pregnant silences’ (pun intended), only if they were meaningful rather than pregnant.
The book only gets interesting in the third and final part, which I believe is the way the entire book should have been written. Focussing mainly on the story and sequence of story, just right dialogues and just right information. It’s like the author’s writing style improved per part and finally got a little close to how the book should have been.
In a five word summary review, the book is ‘Predictable, simple and not thrilling.’
It would have been better to read the terrorists’ side of story. As they say one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Maybe then the story would have been dramatically different and would qualify as breaking away from the stereotype.
All in all I am not writing off this writer, I believe Bilal has his best to come out in future and he is on a learning path. Almost like he is warming up his writing skills and will come out with something great later. Bilal Siddiqi is an author to watch out for in future.
Your booknerd faffer,