The Ramayana (1976)

I haven’t read any complete translation of the original six (or seven) book epic (or any other version of the Ramayana), so I don’t know whether some of the weaknesses of this version come from the original epic or from the retelling process. Not everyone likes retellings, they cut away many details (after all this is cut down from many books to one of only 230 pages), they’ll try to modernize the style which may be something some people dislike.

Still, they cut to the core plot (which goes like this: Prince Ramayana’s wife gets stolen by the demon king Ravana and he attempts to get her back), and if you don’t want to plow through a complete translation, yet want to get a good idea of an epic like this, retellings are the way to go. The strength of the book is that it is like a window into another culture, the texture of this world is interesting and has many elements you’ll seldom see in most contemporary fantasy. What doesn’t work are the characters, they are either white or black, the good guys are completely, perfectly good, beautiful, strong, invincible and the evil guys are ugly and always loose to the good guys. You’ll never get the feeling that there could be a different outcome than Ramayana winning his wife back and defeating Ravana. Still, it made me interested in reading a complete translation.

no English translation, German title: Das Ramayana