Book Series: Ramayan Series by Ashok Banker: Mythological epic retold as an amazing and imaginative fantasy

This is an eight-book series where Ashok Banker retells the Ramayan in the style of the modern “fantasy” novel, like the Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien.

The first of the series was written in 2003 and series was completed in 2012 with the eighth book.

Here are the images of the covers of these books:Ramayan Series Cover Images

I had heard the Ramayan in bits and pieces in my early childhood. Later, I read abridged YA versions and graphic art forms (called comics then) from Amar Chitra Katha. Somewhere along the way I consumed the English versions by Rajaji (C Rajagopalachari) and R K Narayan. I was eventually put off this epic by Ramanand Sagar’s teleserial in the 1980s, where it became morlistic, dull, and full of cardboard charaters.

Anyway, a few years ago, my wife (Swapna) had purchased the first of the series, and I picked it up just after she finished it. Once I started reading it, I just could not put it down. I gobbled-up the first six of the series as and when they were released. I was under the impression that the series was over with the six books (maybe there was a gap between the publishing of the sixth and the seventh book, or something in the sixth book gave me that impression). However, I recently discovered that Banker has added two more volumes to the series, making it a total of 8 books.

I have read the first six books twice, and I have re-started with the third round, once again a few weeks ago. While reading these books I am transported into an ancient world  with different sights, sounds, smells and dangers. It is a world full of magic created by through repeated retelling over centuries and repackaged by Ashok Banker in an engrossing manner. It does not matter whether you are aware of the Ramayan before you start reading Banker’s version or not. Also, it does not matter whether Banker’s retelling is true to any of the original versions.

The narrations are riveting and the charaters uniquely distinguishable. The fight/ war scenes are captivating and so are the passages where the characters introspect, discuss, and argue. Banker also sprinkles the narration with some Sanskrit and Hindi words, to give it an authentic feel.

Sita is depicted as a warrior princess who often roams her kingdom incognito. Kaikeyi is a self-centered, weak-willed woman constantly manipulated by her evil mentor – Manthara, who in turn is controlled by Ravana. Dasaratha, a brave warrior king in his younger days is slowly getting decript, spaced-out, and easily manipulated. Ravana is a fearsome and an extermely powerful Rakashasa (not some funny looking guy with ten heads and artificial laughter). Characters of Suphanaka, Hanuman, Sugreeva, Vibhishana, Mandodari, Kaushlya, Janaka, and the seers (Vishishta, Vishwamitra, etc.) are clearly etched out. And then there is the irascible Jatayu, and a strange wild man called Bearface who keeps crossing the path of our heros (Rama, Sita, and Lakshman).

What I found pleasently surprising is that the pace and engaging style has been maintained across all the first six volumes and the eighth volume. I was slightly disappointed with the seventh one (Vengeance of Ravana).

Here is the full list of the series with links to the reviews and online bookstores:

Book 1Prince of Ayodhya
(reviewed here)
Book 2Siege of Mithila
(reviewed here)
Book 3Demons of Chitrakut
(reviewed here)
Book 4Armies of Hanuman (reviewed here)
Book 5Bridge of Rama
(reviewed here)
Book 6King of Ayodhya
(reviewed here)
Book 7Vengeance of Ravana
(reviewed here)
Book 8Sons of Sita (reviewed here)

If you have not yet read any of the books in the series, go for the first one right away! You will not regret it.

Your comments are welcome!



Author: Rajesh Naik

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15 thoughts on “Book Series: Ramayan Series by Ashok Banker: Mythological epic retold as an amazing and imaginative fantasy”

  1. My reading of the Ramanyana has been primarily through the Amar Chitra Katha, Chandamama and host of other story books. And reinforced in my childhood by bed time story telling by my mother.

    I will await your reviews to take up Book 1 of the series…I am presuming that the books need to be read in the chronological order indicated?


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