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Sci-fi Trilogy

Avinandan Mukherji

By Payal Dhar
Young Zubaan, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 344, 336, 372, Rs. 295.00


Payal Dhar’s A Shadow in Eternity, The Key of Chaos and The Timeless Land, describe the journey of Maya Subramaniam, a girl of thirteen from Bangalore, to Eternity—a hyper-real land that the author creates as the primary setting for her science-fiction trilogy. Under the care and tutelage of her Watcher, Noah Jarryd, a Norwegian some six and a half feet tall, Maya is the youngest Preferred ever—a Preferred being someone who is chosen for training to grow up into a Defender of the Sands of Time.   The greatest enemy of the Defenders are the Sai’adyins, the Warriors of the Shadow, who want control over the Sands of Time that cause time to flow in Eternity as well as in Reality. To gain control over the Sands of Time would be to gain control over time itself and that is what the Sai’adyins propose to do in the Timeless Land where they have established their own parallel form of Eternity. To fulfill this, the Sai’adyins need a person who can find and wield the Key of Chaos, in the process becoming the Key itself. They decide on a young Preferred, Yazid, but later realize to their dismay that it is Maya, the youngest Preferred, whom they had been looking for to fulfill the ancient Prophecy about unlocking the Shadow and gaining control over the Sands of Time.   Maya’s psychological anguish as she discovers this herself, torments her throughout—on one hand lies the call of duty, the responsibility to destroy the Shadow and save the worlds, while on the other lies the promise of unimaginable power and the consequences of the ancient Prophecy. The dilemma Maya faces as she fights between the love for her parents and her sense of adventure and duty, lies at the heart of Dhar’s narrative. She does not give in to the temptation of painting the story of a child in rainbow colours but focuses on the problems one faces in the process of growing up, on the choices and sacrifices one has to make.   Dhar’s main strength is her ability to portray characters with great psychological insight. Almost all the characters, even the ones who remain in the background, evolve through the books and are far from flat. The depiction of Maya as she grows out of a thirteen year old rebellious kid to a mature ...

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