Never before had I thought that I would feature a book review in my headline section of this blog. It’s not that I think books are not important, – but I usually reserve my headline column for special issues of human interest or other things that are dear to me. One book made me change my mind.
Enter “Tanril”. In the world of Indonesian books where most are mere manifestations of the word “mediocrity”, I was trembling when I read the first 20 pages or so of this book. It’s a work of an epic scale, telling the story of a young martial-artist in a very beautiful, lyrical way. It chronicles the life of Wander, a young, frail boy who refused to buckle to any challenge coming his way; and went on to achieve his dream in becoming an accomplished fighter in every sense of the word.
What particularly impressed me is the way the author, Nafta S. Meika, prepared the setting of this book. He painstakingly crafted every detail, scenery, and geographical arrangements to support the scenes of the story. On the back of the book, there is even a small dictionary, – so to speak, where he explained the meaning of his own created language used here and there throughout the book. I cannot help but think that if he continued to work at this level, then he surely has the potential to be Indonesia’s very own Tolkien. Especially when I happen to stumble at his blog post stating that he intended to make this book as a part of an epic series consisting of more than 10 books. Now, in itself that’s a mountainous task for a writer to tackle. In fact, I can only recall that a task of this scale was only successfully tackled once in Indonesian books by none other than the senior writer Arswendo Atmowiloto with his “Senopati Pamungkas” series. But this writer, – this writer -, he has started his journey fantastically with this book.
Another big achievement of his is his smooth and unpatronizing way to weave the details of eastern philosophy throughout the story. To come up with some bullet points of wisdom to be embedded into a story is already a high achievement in itself; let alone to be able to incorporate it into the book in such a way that will left the readers buoyed, smiling or nodding their heads in agreement without feeling that they are reading a condescending work. And when you consider that the writer must still be young ( He was mentioned as a graduate of Pelita Harapan, a young university in Jakarta ), my mouth was left agape wondering how on earth could he do that at his age.
If there is anything at all that I complain about this book is its use of small font and italics. It is rather inconsistent that sometimes you wonder why were some sentences were italicized at all. That being said, I still find that it’s a small price to pay when you read a book of its worth. If I started the book trembling, I finished it finding my mouth dry with amazement and salutation. I rest my case.