Curse of the Kalingan: Shobha Nihalani
The desire to live and not die will cost one young man more than what he would ever expect. One battle between the Kalings and the Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, would forever change things. Some would regal in the end result. Many dead bodies strewn and many corpses to bury. But, Ashoka was devastated and pledged to never seek, start or wage a war again. But, there are those that would disagree and to make sure that no one else could break what he promised or vowed his Navatnas or The Nine, guarded their powers, knowledge and spent thousands of years to create and ensure this peace. But, no one realized that one of the Kalingan warriors rose from within the corpses and would promise to seek revenge and avenge the Kalinga Empire at all costs. First on his agenda was to destroy and kill the Nine whose knowledge to rule the world changed more than just his fate or destiny.
When the past becomes intertwined in the present and the Nine are at risk in present time on young man whose life was hanging in the balance would sell his soul to a voice that would haunt him forever and turn him into a merciless killer. With his life on the line he vows that he will keep his word to this faceless voice if his life is spared. As he was lying in a hospital bed hooked up to life-support machines someone comes in, his parents too and a shaman performs something so graphically depicted that the feint of heart might turn their heads but the rest will know that one young man, quite learned in martial arts would now have the power to take down the Nine and kill them one by one.
Enter the cave of The Nine and meet Dr. Kuruvella and Professor Gupta and hear the voice of the monk who arrived hoping that he would solve their problem. The time is near, their fate decided and the final steps begin. Handed a pyramid, taking it in both hands the professor sees a shining white beam emanating from it before handing it back to the monk stating the he has brought shame to The Nine. But why? Next, the Dr. and finally they handed over the pendants around their necks giving over the reign to three young people who will hopefully be able to overcome the evil and bring back the good. What happens next will surprise you, as these two are no longer needed.
Enter Vayu King our young man who promised to avenge the Kalings when facing death. His power we learn is limitless, as he has already created racial strife, poisoned water and created a powerful army called the Kala Yogis who obeyed him without question. Vayu was more than just possessed by the power and was determined to destroy the millennia and old secret society created by Ashoka and which existed as the Nine. He wants it all: the power, the knowledge of all things existing and the wisdom. The Kalinga warrior knew this was his plan and he wanted the control and had the power. Could anyone be stronger that every man on earth? Would he succeed?
One woman decided to take on a position that would cost her more than must her former life. Within the confines of a mental institution nurse Tara would meet a man or maybe an illusion that would summon her to bring an object to the Lomas Rishi cave and then her mission will be explained and understood. Why her? She was the first one to replace a member of The Nine. The illusion or Mr. Bose would remain within her mind as a voice as we find out more about Vayu, his training, his dealings with the Golden Group or those out to destroy the Nine who Vayu has been commanded to kill.
As Vayu walks the campus of Calcutta University his goal is to rid the world of Dr. Kuruvella and Professor Grupta. The outcome you won’t believe as this man walks in, takes the lives of these two men and no one is the wiser. But, three people are about to learn a deep dark secret, will be forced to give up their lives, as they know if and become part of The Nine. Tara, the nurse now longer has control of her thoughts as Dr. Bose has entered her mind, relates his wishes and expects her to follow them. What she learns from this faceless voice allows Tara and the reader to know that The Nine was appointed as “the guardian of all knowledge.” This knowledge is powerful, defiant so that scientists can understand it. Imagine this knowledge kept within the confines of the minds of nine people. Nine Masters who live among the people but go unseen. As the voice continues it explains to Tara why she has been chosen, what she will add to the Nine and what will happen if the wrong people are in control. Their identities kept secret yet they were found. The Chintamani crystal carries all of the knowledge and now Tara has the responsibility to guard it and keep it safe. Forensic expert Zubin is next to be recruited and what he learns about his father’s past leaves him no choice but to agree to join The Nine. A dead body or the ghost of one explains it all as he learns just what is an illusion and what is real. Next, Lise whose job was to take care of an elderly doctor and the end result in his death, so gruesome, results in some startling revelations for this young girl. Dr. Halver was a professor Asian Studies and now he is gone. Lise would learn about the magic of the nine, the powerful stone and the Chintamani fragments. She was now the knowledge keeper: the soul of the Nine. Finally, Akash or DJ Akash is the next to replace one of the dead members. With his bodyguard the monk he would take a journey he would never forget. Called the Trinity: Tara, Akash and Zubin were enlisted to stop one man.
As the three new recruits enter the cave and learn more about The Nine we find out that their secret is in the Chintamini crystal that acts like a transmitter. Imagine all of the knowledge of this world and its sciences in the wrong hands. The council updates it understands on a regular basis and you might think that belonging to the Nine is like belonging to a cult. Each of the new recruits were recruited for different reasons beyond their control. As Zubin would take the place of his father and honor him, Tara would take the place of Dr. Halver and finally Akash would replace Dr. Kuruvella. As you read chapter 30 the author shares the history behind the battle that caused the Kalingan to seek revenge, why Ashoka decided to create a society that would be at peace and why they needed to protect what they knew. But, one young girl would not heed the warning of the Monk, defied what she was told and became a pawn in the hands of Vayu. What happens to Lise you will have to learn for yourself as you might consider what she did a betrayal of her powers or just a young girl being naïve. Able to read minds and although sensing he was evil, she discounted her fears and the end result could take her life or the knowledge that is stored within her mind.
As Tara, Zubin and Akash race to save this young girl before it’s too late, we learn that Zubin now has the power to heal, Akash the spirit and Tara the mind. But, can their combined powers save Lise and will it be enough to overpower the evil that has already spread?
But, there is much more as Tara and Akash are often insulting to each other and facing one monk named Na-khi we hear the voices of all three argue, doubt and inflict pain. With Akash doubting the power of the monk, the power of the Nine and the fact that they control his destiny, we hear the voice of Zubin and his explanation about why they now have powers finally make sense to the other two and created harmony among the three to complete their task.
Tara is connected to the voice of the one man who wants to control it all. Communicating with her but will they be able to stop him? Illusions, ghosts, deceit, betrayals and harsh realities and three young people and one Knowledge Keeper racing time in order to save the world from more evil. Vayu’s voice is next as he relates his mission, his work for the Golden Group and you might say his delusions of grandeur. But, things heat up in more ways than one, Akash faces evil head on and the end result will change it all. Hear the voice of the spirit as it speaks to Vayu and challenges him. Will the Kallingan warrior stop his “ancient ramblings of revenge?” Has Vayu gone over the edge and lost his sanity?
All three are headstrong and impulsive and find themselves in situations that hinder the mission, The Nine and the need to become humble, organized and anonymous still has be ingrained as one member’s life still hangs in the balance and one evil man will do anything to destroy the very definition and soul of the world sinless, virtuous or good.
Just what the Golden Group created to block someone’s mind impulses to thought you won’t believe as all three face the evil and an ending that will leave readers breathless and on the edge as author Shobha Nihalani takes readers inside the minds of two separate groups or cults each striving for power, neither really concerned with mankind. What is the final fate? What will happen next to Tara, Zubin and Akash? We will hold our breaths, hope that no one steals the crystal and wait for the sequel. The first in the trilogy of fantasy but some might think there is some fact to this science or fantasy fiction. You decide.
Fran Lewis: reviewer