So, I sped through this before it came out thanks to a galley copy I had, but I didn’t really ~get~ the full experience. I bought a copy and promised I’d get back to it.

Then I did.

There’s a lot in this book, and on a raw, surface level, the plot was good, albeit there was a point just past the middle during the imprisonment stuff where it got bit muddy and dragged. What you need to realize about this book is how deeply connected to the author’s home and Buddhism this really is. My first read, I uhh, didn’t pick up on some of it. The prose is lovely; the characters are interesting and the ideas work really well. Once you can start slotting in the characters into the story of Buddha, right down to Buddha’s abandoned son, named Rahula, or translates literally to “fetter.” You know, like a restraint. That was my first big clue that pointed me in the right direction, and everything else fell into place after that.

I’ll let you sift through the rest. It was a bold choice from the author, if not downright brave. It adds a ton to the story, but I firmly believe the story and book itself works on its own without making these connections.

All of this is interwoven with a lot of modern history. Pandemics, revolutions, state violence and oppression, it’s all there. Fetter’s existence is a strange one, trained from a young age by his mother to be a perfect weapon, but grows up to want nothing to do with the violence of his youth. He learns to come to terms with his upbringing while also hardening his own beliefs on liberation, love and destiny. All of it contrasted by his shadow, which his mother dislodged from him at a young age, but proves to be a strong allegory and ally throughout the story.

This is one of those books where you take away from it whatever you want to put into it. I’m glad there are books like this being released and authors like Vajra Chandrasekera writing these sorts of challenging books.

You should check it out and get a copy for your shelf.

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