Title: The Savage Fortress
Author: Sarwat Chadda
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Ash Mistry Chronicles (Book 1)
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
ISBN-10: 0545385164 (Arthur A. Levine)
ISBN-13: 978-0545385169 (Arthur A. Levine)
Reviewed by: Kayla
The gods and monsters of India roar to life in this thrilling fantasy!
After three weeks of vacation, Ash Mistry is ready to leave the heat and dust of India behind him. Then he discovers a gleaming gold arrowhead hidden in the sands—a weapon used to defeat evil King Ravana in legend.
At least, Ash is pretty sure it’s only a legend . . .
But when Lord Alexander Savage comes after Ash, the legends are suddenly way too real. Savage commands an army of monstrous shapechangers called rakshasas, who want only to seize the arrowhead and restore Ravana to power. As they hunt Ash through magnificent fortresses and brutal deserts, he must learn to work with a powerful rakshasa girl named Parvati, and find the strength within himself to fight on no matter what. Because this isn’t just a battle to stop the end of the world. It’s a battle to stop the end of reality as we know it.
Quick & Dirty: A boy stumbles upon a mythical arrowhead and has to save the world.
Opening Sentence: “That is so not a cobra,” said Ash.
You’ve probably heard of Greek and Roman mythology (Any Percy Jackson fans out there?) Or maybe even a bit of Norse mythology (Thor, son of Odin, a.k.a. Chris Hemsworth *sighs*). But have you even thought of India’s mythology? Sarwat’s The Savage Fortress gives you just enough information to wet your pallet in this enjoyable adventure-filled novel for middle-graders.
While in India on a vacation to visit his Aunt and Uncle, Ash Mistry accidentally comes across an arrowhead in the middle of a excavation site. But it’s just an arrowhead, right? Only, when Ash first touches it, he saw a vision from the past — of the last battle against the evil demon king Ravana. The arrowhead that he holds in his hands is actually the blessed arrowhead of Kali–the goddess of death. But Lord Alexander Savage is also looking for the arrowhead in order to release Ravana from his iron prison. Now Ash has a sliver of the arrowhead in his thumb, a little sister that’s been kidnapped and an immortal rakshaska that claims to be on the good side. Add the responsibility to save the world from a bloodthirsty demon king, and it makes for an eventful summer.
The Savage Fortress gives a creative twist to India’s mythology. There are relatable characters and some absolutely cooky characters. Overall it’s a fun (and really graphic, violence and gore wise, for a middle school book) fast-paced novel that has a lot of potential. I think Sarwat does a great job in creating the busy Indian streets and markets. The world building was great throughout. But the main highlight of the book was the characters.
By far my favorite character is Parvati. She’s a rakshaska that has a secret — or more like nobody asks so she doesn’t tell. Although she has a sketchy background, she helps Ash as he tries to save the world (but honestly in my opinion, Parvati is the heroine because she has the actual ability to kill Ravana and Ash just happens to be there at the same time). This strong, determined character has been reincarnated for thousands of years, failing each time she tries to help the hero. But this time, she’s going to stop Ravana, with or without the destined hero.
Ash is a very normal character. He has no special powers or talents. In fact, he’s a bit chubby and out of shape. He’s a character that happens to be in the right place at the right time. This makes him very relatable, and his point of view is realistic. He’s completely petrified when it comes to fighting an unstoppable demon. But he has a responsibility to his little sister that allows him to plow on to overcome his fear. He may not have the best fighting skills, but he has the perseverance to keep getting back up.
The humor in this book is probably my second favorite part of this book. It’s focused toward a younger audience, so new adults and probably some young adults might get bored with this book. But overall it’s great for middle school readers. Also note: like I said before, there are very graphic blood-and-gore scenes in this book, but nothing rated R. Just a warning to parents.
“You don’t feel fear, do you?” he asked.
She blinked her slow reptilian blink. “What is it you’re afraid of?”
“What else? Death.”
“No. You’re afraid of what you’ll miss, being dead.”
“Yeah, that too.” He looked around, lost. “I’m not even fourteen. I’ve never kissed a girl. Not been to first base, let alone anywhere beyond that. Not one decent kiss, and here I am, trying to save the world!”
“Look, I’ll kiss you if it’s so important,” said Parvati, flicking her hair out of her face. “But then can we get a move on, please?”
“Stop right there,” said Ash. “A charity kiss wouldn’t count. Anyway, knowing my luck, you’d bite my tongue and kill me.”
Parvati shrugged and began walking. Ash, after a moment, hurried up and fell into step beside her. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye.
“We could hold hands, if you like,” she said.
“Just shut up, Parvati.”
The Ash Mistry Chronicles:
FTC Advisory: Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic provided me with a copy of The Savage Fortress. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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