The Good Wizard by Prasun Roy is a delightful read in the fantasy genre. While it is written for children, it is equally appealing to adults, especially if you are a fantasy buff.
Set against the backdrop of the Mughal empire in Emperor Shah Jahan’s time, the story is centred around Badshah Bisht, an exceptional wizard. He is the only one that can perform the dangerous ‘Dance of the phoenix,’ an act of magic that he demonstrates in the annual Lunar carnival.
Badshah Bisht is the custodian of the Mangal Mantra Adhyayan, a book that is a repository of information about Mantras, talismans, cures, and secret knowledge. While Bisht is widely respected for his prowess, he also has many enemies who are jealous of him. His nemesis is the evil Gumah Khan, who wishes to seize the Mangal Mantra Adhyayan and kill him.
Unfortunately, Badshah Bisht is afflicted with a disease that causes him to have bouts of memory loss. While he is away trying to find a cure for his affliction, enemies attack, and the Mangal Mantra Adhyayan is destroyed. It is now up to him to find a worthy student to impart his knowledge and make sure it doesn’t fall in the wrong hands.
Bisht is guided by a prophecy:
“Your nemesis and your liberator are the two faces of the same mirror. To save The Dance of the Phoenix, you yourself have to become the Phoenix! “
These deeply haunting words become meaningful and poignant throughout the story.
In the course of Bisht’s travels, we are introduced to the other principal character, the vivacious 11-year-old Titli. She is the standout character in this book; someone who is determined to break the mould and shatter stereotypes, making her an idol for little girls all over the world. Bisht selects her as his student despite facing many challenges. Titli’s grit and zeal to learn assures him that he made the right decision.
Does Bisht regain his memory? Does Titli become a magician? Does she master the exceedingly difficult dance of the Phoenix? Does she become a student worthy of her illustrious master? Are they able to foil the evil Gumah Khan’s conspiracy?
These questions are answered as the plot unfolds to a nail-biting finish.
Whether it is the lucid free-flowing narrative of Prasun Roy, or the lively illustrations of Ishan Trivedi, this book captures your attention right from the first page to the last. Prasun has created memorable characters- be it the loyal student Suraj, the supportive mother Sheila Devi, or the inquisitive villagers. This story also imparts messages of religious harmony and the importance of standing united as a community.
The Mantras are a lot like spells in fantasy fiction; spells that heal, that influence minds, that make people speak truth and many more. The training scenes between Bisht and Titli are reminiscent of Star Wars, similar to the master and the padawan relationships depicted there. I am sure that this generation that has eagerly lapped up Harry Potter, spells, and wizards, will cherish this Indian version of magic and wizardry.
Hoping there is a sequel- can’t wait to see what Titli will do next!
I received this book as part of a Penmancy giveaway.