Vikraal by Sangeeta Bahadur

Category: Speculative Fiction
Publisher: Picador India
Book 2 of the Kaal Trilogy

Half a year after his mind-bending kayakalpa, metamorphosis, in the mind-city of Surangini, Arihant is on the move again – this time with the brilliant Tejaswi by his side. The Burning Tree of Memories completes the puzzle of Arihant’s true identity; his meeting with Aagneyi, legendary Vaagdatta’s daughter, brings him the soaring joy of absolute love. The shocking, near-fatal attack on the Tejaswi’s life shatters this short-lived illusion of perfection, bringing Arihant into conflict with a series of increasingly potent enemies. Made cocky by his lucky run, he begins to believe himself ready for Aushij, the Sleeping God now stirring awake. And then he meets the inconceivable entity, Anik…

Nearly killed in the encounter, a badly shaken Arihant questions his very existence and purpose – till the quirky phenomenon Bhootnaath returns to guide him to the next level of his evolution. The path leads, this time, to the Oracle, who calls himself Kaal and defines his job as keeping creation on track – apart from granting the deepest desire of the chosen few he allows into his realm. This time, two seekers reach him together – a confused and despairing Arihant with no idea of what he wants, and his mysterious companion-of-the-road who is so focused on her goal that she cannot look beyond it.

What each of them is finally granted explodes into an inconceivable climax that alters the course of the Cosmic Game, propelling all protagonists down a shortcut to the final confrontation…