cover image Rama: A Legend

Rama: A Legend

Jamake Highwater. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (226pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-3052-5

Highwater (Anpao) sticks close to the source in this novel-length story from the epic Ramayana. Through the machinations of the demon king Ravana, the noble Rama and his holy wife Sita, an earth goddess, are cast into exile. Then Sita is abducted, and Rama and his loyal brother Laksmana enlist the help of the monkey king Sugriva to rescue her from Ravana's evil kingdom. In a final battle, Ravana's foul troops are routed, and Rama slays Ravana himself, much to the surprise of the demon: ""`What a world!' Ravana groaned in astonishment and pain. `Who would have thought that a mere mortal could destroy my beautiful wickedness!'"" These figures are simply good or evil; Highwater does not attempt to examine motivations. As an authentic adaptation and abridgment of the original for an American audience, this work can be enjoyed for its drama and suspense, if not for subtle characterizations. Ages 11-14. (Nov.)