Ravana, Roar of the Demon King tells the myth of the main antagonist of Hindu Mythology from his own point of view. Unlike many, many other times that taking the villain’s point of view has been done in popular literature, this isn’t intended a means to redeem him. It’s merely presented as the most efficient way to tell the story, as he was the only one around for all of it.
Myths almost always make good stories. If they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t have survived this long. The story of Ravana is no exception. Born from the union of the Hindu equivalents of an Angel and a Demon, he spends his childhood studying he Hindu scriptures and Martial Arts. As his parents are quick to point out to everyone, he’s the most talented of all his siblings. This, naturally, goes to his head a bit. And from there we see his slow downfall. When the time comes to ask for boons from Brahma (the omnipotent Hindu Creator God) you can immediately see the exact thing that will bring about his undoing: He asks to be invincible to Gods and Demons, but not mortals, as they are beneath his notice. In this case as in so many other, pride goes before a fall.
From there the story gets ever grander/more involved, with marriages, epic battles, kidnappings and eventually Ravana’s death. As things go steadily downhill, the author(s) make very clear that this is the result of Ravana’s making one bad decision after another, decisions that are based on his pride, rather than good sense. He eventually meets his end at the hands of Rama, who is a human but is also an incarnation of the God Vishnu. Ravana feels remorse in his final moments and therefore Rama forgives him, ending the story on the positive idea that anyone can be redeemed. The story remains accurate to Hindu mythology, which is nice to see in modern media.
I cannot say enough good things about the art. The almost hauntingly beautiful watercolors make the story feel appropriately epic. This is a tale about Gods and Demons and it absolutely feels that way. Epic is a word that is oft overused in today’s society, but it’s really the only good way to describe this art.
While this book is clearly aimed more at teens, it is appropriate for children and one should feel free to give it to them and expose them to non-Greek mythology. While myths can be violent and while there are battles, they’re not gory or bloody and none of the violence is explicit.
This book is a great read if you enjoy a good story or stupendous art, regardless of whether you know anything about Hindu myth.
Ravana, Roar of the Demon King
by Abhimanyu Singh Sisodia
Art by Sachin Nagar
Campfire Graphic Novels, 2011