Fight to survive

Fight to survive

A TICKET TO SYRIA: A STORY ABOUT THE ISIS IN MALDIVES (Bloomsbury, Rs 399) by Shirish Thorat shows that while faith can move mountains, it can also raze families, countries and even civilizations when distorted or misplaced. The unusual setting - the tropical, idyllic Maldives - for a novel about the Islamic State piques one's curiosity about Thorat's novel. He does not disappoint. A Ticket to Syria is no The Day of the Jackal, but it is interesting enough to keep the reader hooked. Thorat's language is lucid and his eye for detail adds credibility to his narrative. But his research can be too closely packed on occasion.

The incisive - if easily available - views about Islamist movements worldwide and how these led to the birth of the Islamic State bolster his plot. The rescue operation is especially gripping. But the motives of the rescuer, a character referred only to as the 'Contact', are unclear. Subtlety though, is not Thorat's strong suit. He tries too hard to make the plot seem 'real'. A lesson in tenses would not go amiss either.

THE LEOPARD'S TALE (Speaking Tiger, Rs 350) by Jonathan and Angela Scott is an updated edition of the book published 30 years ago. It follows the lives of the most elusive of big cats in the Masai Mara National Reserve. Not much has changed in the last three decades. If anything, things have only become worse for leopards. The species has disappeared from 40 per cent of its natural habitat all over the world.

The book is a gem, the result of painstaking research and first-hand experience with the big cats on the part of the Scotts. Emotions run rife and, surprisingly for its genre, this book has all the makings of a thrilling film. It is also a visual treat, with some exceptional photographs that have been added to the recent edition.


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