A disappointing hero in River of Ink by Paul M. M. Cooper

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized

 

As the whole world and system crumbles the invading Kings calls for a poet of the people. Asana Is charged with a new translation to placate and inspire the populace. But as all he holds dear is threatened, mysterious and irreverent versions of the text appear in Asanka’s house, and he finds rebellion creeping into his translation, with consequences he never imagined.

This is another book that surprised me by being set in Sri Lanka!! We went there on honeymoon, and heard many tales of the kings and invasions of old, so I was glad to go more into one of them in this book. Here, old legend combines with a new storyteller to change the course of events once more.

Asanka was not a typical main character. In that he wasn’t likeable at all – his acts of heroism and rebellion largely seemed to happen despite him, or to further his own cause. He is cowardly, disloyal and uncaring – and like the characters around him, as a reader you are willing him to act, to rebel, to do something good or honourable, but instead he co

His love story was disappointing too. He neglects his wife, deeming her too provincial, and takes a lover. She is the real driving force behind his rebellion, and pushes and goads him on – though he never seems good enough for her. I felt myself wishing that she, not he, was the main character. Perhaps she is just using him so that she can learn to read.

But perhaps he is a terrible protagonist for a reason. Despite his cowardice and solipsism, the words he writes change the course of history and disrupt a cruel dictator. The stories he re-tells become powerful and change the course of real lives. Is there a point being made here about the power of words, of stories? About a River of Ink?

Perhaps there is, but I can’t help but feel that I would have enjoyed the book more if there had been a character that I could root for. Here I was behind the cause, but not the man.

Thank you to the publishers and to Netgalley for the review copy; I count it a privilege as always.

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