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Indian Fantasy Novels: The Best Fantasy Fiction from India

Indian fantasy novels

We generally don’t get to see a lot of Indian fantasy novels. A visit to the book store in India would reveal boring non-fiction autobiographies of retired politicians. However, there are enough Indian fantasy novels to make readers interested. Authors like Amish Tripathi, Samit Basu, and others have made their mark on Indian mythology fantasy and superhero novels.

Ideally, India should be an adobe of fantasy fiction. This is the land where Baital Pachisi was written, a story which came about before Gutenberg published the Bible with his printing press. And yet, the sad reality is that we don’t see a lot of fantasy in either Bollywood or literature.

However, we are not here to lament. Instead, we want to celebrate the authors from India who have taken a step forward towards writing fantasy. To save you the trouble of going on GoodReads and searching for Indian fantasy books, we list them for you here.

Above all, we hope you choose to buy one of these books and further incentivize these writers to keep writing fantasy books.

1.    The Devourers by Indra Das

In his debut novel, Das tells the tale of a Professor who meets a strange man with a confession to make and a story to tell. What ensues is a type of story you don’t read. From a new race of people to trouble in the Mughal Empire, Das takes readers to a place they didn’t’ expect to be taken.

The Devourers is set in Kolkata. If you pick this book up thinking you will like it because you liked Harry Potter, the story will take you into unfamiliar territory. The violence is uncompromisingly graphic, almost as if Das wants us to accept and heed to the darker side of the story.

Das links ancient Indian myths with modern fantasy themes generally found amongst authors like Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood. While many compare Das to these authors, I won’t go down the same road. A writer, like an artist, must stand apart. Through his work, we see Das doing the same with The Devourers.

2.    The Guardians of Halahala by Shatrujeet Nath

Reading The Guardians of Halahala reminded me a lot of the Lord of the Rings. A weapon to win all battles, great gods and demons trying to find it, and the fellowship of a few men who try to prevent total chaos.

Does this ring a bell?

Despite its similarities with LOTR, The Guardians of Halahala is an absolute masterpiece in its own right. Shatrujeet Nath takes an alternate view of mythical history and writes a fantasy novel involving gods from Devlok, asuras from Pataal Lok, and mere mortals led by King Vikramaditya himself.

Halahala is melodramatic where it needs to be, just as every other high fantasy novel is. After all, keeping gods and asuras at bay is not a task which comes without heightened tensions and emotions.

The interesting part of the story is seeing revered Gods from Devlok lust for the weapon as much as the asuras in Pataal Lok. Shatrujeet takes his brand of fiction into a higher plane setting up mythological characters in a new setting.

3. The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu

The Simoqin Prophecies is for many reasons the bellwether novel for fantasy Indian novels. Samit Basu creates an epic which brings together mythic fantastic elements from epics across the world and creates something unique.

Image Credit – Good Reads

The first book of the GameWorld trilogy, The Simoqin Prophecies begins with a prince facing betrayal from his own guards after longing too much for glory. This sets up the story to devolve into a high fantasy tale. Basu tips his hat to Western fantasy traditions with the addition of dragons and manticores while bringing Indian mythic creatures like rakshasa and vanars.

However, it is the engaging story which keeps all these elements tied together.

4.     Aliens in Delhi by Sami Ahmad Khan

The title of the book conveys its premise, but Aliens in Delhi does much more than make us see extra-terrestrials at India Gate. Bucking traditional fantasy themes adopted in Western books and movies, Aliens in Delhi is a concise thriller with no dull moment.

In writing Aliens in Delhi, Sami Khan reminds readers of the style adopted by early fantasy and science fiction writers like HG Wells. We see the plot and its characters at the centre, the fantastical elements serving the story and not exerting too much control. For anyone who thinks Indian fantasy, or fantasy novels, in general, go over the top, Aliens in Delhi is a great choice.

The author, Sami Ahmad Khan has a PhD in science fiction. This makes the maturity found in Aliens in Delhi much more obvious.

5.      The God Who Loved Motorbikes by Murali K Menon

If the title doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will. The God Who Loved Motorbikes has a god who likes motorbikes. Ho gaya? Not quite.

The god is looking for a special bike, not a random piece of garbage but the one and only Velocette Venom Thruxton HT. This is the god’s only desire.

Murali K Menon presents a very original idea in this fantasy novel. He takes a god and brings him down to a more human level by giving him a materialistic desire.

Of course, our god doesn’t have it easy. There is only one existing prototype of the bike he is looking for and it has been lost for many years.

6.      Cult of Chaos by Shweta Taneja

On first reading, Cult of Chaos comes across as a phenomenal piece of fantasy literature with Indian mythical elements.

On second reading, it gets better.

Taneja takes us to the world of Tantriks, the people who are usually known for remembering strange indecipherable spells. In Cult of Chaos, these Tantriks control everything. They have the entire Indian establishment under the control of their thumb.

There is one who belongs outside the mainstream Tantrik establishment. And eventually, she’s the one who stands between the world and total chaos.

Image Credit : Good Reads

Cult of Chaos is a classic example of a writer knowing her terrain well. A page-turner, you will feel compelled to read the book again after the first reading. Don’t resist, and let the chaos take you in.

7.      The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi

The most famous Indian fantasy novel, The Immortals of Meluha comes from the country’s most popular author, Amish Tripathi. Discussing the plot of the story would seem redundant as many people here may already have read the entire Shiva trilogy.

Nevertheless, I will do my duty and give you the plot briefly.

The first book of the Shiva Trilogy, the Immortals of Meluha begins when Shiva and his tribe are invited to travel to the kingdom of Meluha at the invitation of the king. When they reach the city, the local people there notice Shiva’s throat turning blue. On seeing this, they assume he is Neelkanth, the man who is going to save Meluha according to a famous legend.

The Immortals is a fascinating read and often considered a gateway book to fantasy for many Indian readers. Amish brings up a genre and a style of storytelling Indian literature had been missing for a long time. While there were many Indian fantasy writers who came before him, his Shiva trilogy attracted the masses to literature.

8.      Inkredia: Luwan of Brida by Sarang Mahajan

Inkredia is an example of phenomenal world building from author Sarang Mahajan. Writers who wish to become good fantasy writers must read Inkredia for learning world building alone. However, this is not the only quality of Mahajan’s masterpiece.

The story tells the tale of Luwan, a common villager. His life takes an unprecedented turn when he becomes the target of a grand conspiracy. As the story unfolds, the author takes us through an adventure through Inkredia, the fictional world in which the story is set.

Inkredia works on so many levels because it is a very complete story. From bringing together different fantastical elements to always making sure they serve the story, Mahajan does an excellent job of keeping readers hooked.

9.      A Dual-Dragoned Throne by Arya Rajam

Like Sarang Mahajan, Arya Rajam show us her world building chops with A Dual-Dragoned Throne.

A mashup of undiscovered kingdoms and never-ending adventure, the story covers the journey of Princess Aurora to save the last legacy of her father Lorien. Along with her compatriots, Aurora faces challenges at every turn and has to save the world from an object which threatens to end everything.

While the premise of the story is traditional, the vibrancy of the fantasy themes makes A Dual-Dragoned Throne a thoroughly interesting read. Aurora is not a Mary Sue; she learns how to deal with the nature of evil and becomes what she must in order to defeat it.

10.  Tarikshir: The Awakening by Khayaal Patel

The combination of historical fiction and fantasy is a tantalizing one. With Tarikshir, author Khayaal Patel doesn’t disappoint and takes us back into time to retell history.

Prince Rudra Pratap Chauhan is faced with a tough ask. His kingdom is the only one left standing in Rajasthan as the British are closing in. His soldiers are outnumbered.

In this turmoil, the sudden death of his father creates further chaos.

Not only must the prince hold back British forces, the task of investigating his father’s death also burdens him.

Can the young prince hold on, especially when he learns the secret of his father’s death will change his life forever?

Image Credit: Good Reads

Tarikshir is a very entertaining read, one you can pick up on a Sunday afternoon and go through until dinner. Indian history is a melting pot of mind blowing stories. The author picks up one such tale and weaves a yarn you can’t put down easily.

11. Chronicles of the Mortal Vishnu

Antar Atreya pens a mythological fantasy in the Chronicles of the Mortal Vishnu. The story covers everything from large scale battles to mythic characters from Indian mythology.

 The story begins in a time after the seeds of civilization were sown. Political and economic systems were slowly developing. In such a delicate time in history, we see the seeds of chaos being sown with earth’s first born man turning into an evil and ruthless leader. With the weapons of God behind him, he looks invincible.

With this premise, the story devolves into a fantasy war epic. This is not the type of book you will finish in one sitting due to its length. However, it will stay with you for some time once you do finish it. Antar Atreya does a terrific job of bringing together different mythical characters and setting and using modern fantasy to tell a marvelous tale. Chronicles of Mortal Vishnu would never bore you and has enough twists to keep you on the edge.

12. Generation 14 by Priya Sarukkai Chabria

The premise of Generation 14 is certainly very intriguing and almost forces readers to take notice.

Set in a world where memory is illegal and sex a taboo, Generation 14 tells the story of Clone 14/54/G (yes, this is the name of a character!). Shackled by the chains of her world, Clone 14 keeps a secret diary to lodge her frivolous thoughts.

Generation 14 in many ways is a political satire as it uses extreme examples to make a point. The imaginative premise is met with a tightly-knit plot. Unlike many other futuristic fantasy novels, Generation 14 is very inward-looking and not overwhelmed by traditional fantasy elements.

If you’re someone who likes books like 1984 and Brave New World, Generation 14 is certainly worth reading with its take on India in the 24th century.

13. The Diary of A Space Traveler And Other Stories by Satyajit Ray

Is there really any surprise to see the legend himself on this list? The pioneer of Indian cinema, Satyajit Ray also has a fantasy classic to his name. If there is any Indian who can see through the barriers of time and create something for multiple generations, Satyajit Ray is that man.

The Diary of a Space Traveler is Ray’s attempt at science fiction and fantasy. It involves the Professor, an eccentric genius who leaves earth after getting shot off from a rocket along with his servant.

The Professor is never seen after that, though his diary is found and tales of his adventures in space laid bare.

Imaginative and original, you will marvel the foresight Ray shows in his fantasy novel. If Indian fantasy novels are every collected, The Diary of a Space Traveler will surely rank amongst them.

14. Dark Things by  Sukanya Venkatraghavan

The title sets the tone for the story as author Sukanya Venkatraghavan takes readers on a journey through different worlds and realms, goddesses and apsaras, and special mortals who can survive supernatural forces.

Dark Things begins with Ardra, a Yakshi who kills men after they reveal their secret desires (so basically a femme fatale!). However, her usual routine goes into a tailspin when one of her targets manages to survive.

This sets of a chain of events which force Ardra to ask deeper questions about the world around her. Through her journey, we get to see the world Sukanya has created for her readers.

Dark Things is not light on Indian mythicism and again shows the potential of Indian fantasy novels.

15. The Liar’s Weave by Tashan Mehta

The Liar’s Weave is an extraordinary story with a wonderful premise – what if astrology, the pseudoscience a lot of people believe, was actually real?

Author Tashan Mehta tells the story of Zahan Merchant, a man who doesn’t have a so called kundali. With this anomaly, Zahan gains a special power – he can make his own reality.

Through Zahan, Tashan manages to give us a window into the nature of creation itself. Blessed with this power, Zahan catches the attention of other players who are not happy with a new and unpredictable player on their chess board.

Image Credit : Good Reads

The Liar’s Weave is definitely worth a read, even two if you’re someone like me who lives with books.

Indian Fantasy Novels: Final Words

The fifteen novels in this list come from the finest literary minds in India. For all those complaining about a lack of fantasy novels from Indian authors, here they are.

Of course, those generally complaining are often the ones who never put their money where their mouth is. If you really wish to see more fantasy fiction come into our bookstores, you have to show publishers that you’re willing to pay and buy fantasy books. Nothing else will convince them more to publish fantasy novels.

There are already too many Indians with broken dreams of not making it as a writer. If you really care, buy a book and show Indian fantasy authors some love.

Also read: What is Speculative Fiction?
Also read: Ten Speculative Books You Should’ve Already Read

(Featured image Credit: Good Reads)

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