Title : Luka and the Fire of Life
Author : Salman Rushdie
Publisher : Random House
ISBN : 978-0-224-06162-9
Salman Rushdie known for weaving enchanting imagination and for witty play of words is indeed one of the great story tellers of our time. As 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories' was Rushdie's gift to his first son, 'Luka and the Fire of Life' - the story of Haroun's younger brother is the author's gift for his second son on his twelfth birthday. In Salman Rushdie's words, Luka and the Fire of Life is not a sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories, but a companion to it.
In the land of Alifbay and in the city of Kahani, Luka finds himself in a very precarious situation when he is the one who has to bring his father - the famous storyteller, back from a deep sleep, a sleep from which nobody could arouse him back but the Fire of Life. Luka must set out in search of the fire of life through the magic world accompanied by some interesting characters like his two pets - a bear named Dog and a dog named Bear. The journey is full of adventures, obstacles, strange incidents and unusual kinships and the experience is quite like a real life video game where one after another higher levels are reached, difficult levels keep increasing and the progress can be saved at certain junctures. Hard pressed with time and unsure of his progress, Luka travels along the River of Time, towards the Lake of Wisdom and the Mountain of Knowledge. The Insultana of Ott, Elephant ducks with remarkable memory, Respecto-Rats and many ancient Gods and Goddesses of great civilizations make the story an interesting read. The story has all the marks of a great fable or a fairy tale. The contemporary twist has been provided in the narrative by borrowing the terminology from the contemporary gaming world and some popular movies.
Rushdie has nicely peppered the tale with clever puns and puzzles in the narrative. The story is a tribute to the special bond between a father and a son but there are many other things which run understated in the story though not trivial at all - mortality of everything that exists in the world and significance of good deeds. The story is a delectable treat for all fantasy lovers - children and adults alike. However, at times the proceedings seem to lose the freshness and fail to maintain the magic at the same level with which the story began with. But there is no way the brilliance of Rushdie's language could go unnoticed and unappreciated. It duly deserves a respectable mention once again.