The Oarsman by Zubin Mathai

tumblr_n6hno2qIxr1sfxmouo1_500 The Oarsman

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Rating: 3/5 stars

Genre: Spiritual Fantasy

About this book:

In the story, a magical river begins singing, and a dying man suddenly aches to know if the paradise at its end is real enough to fill his heart. He hires an oarsman to take him upstream, but a twisted encounter forces them to revisit every role the man has played in his long life.
A merchant hoarding, an artist painting love, a warrior looking for peace in war, and a dreamer imagining himself a knight to fight a dragon — these, and more, were faces of the man.
As forces relentlessly pursue, and as they row further back into the man’s past, the man begins to suspect that the oarsman is more than he seems.
The Oarsman, with its combination of adventure, fantasy, and spiritual inspiration will delight any reader, and also excite the currents of the river flowing through all our hearts.


The Oarsman is an incredible book. From the beginning, as we start on the story of Man, the oarsman and The Judge, I understood that it was going to be one of those books that will inspire me and change the way I think.
This has to be understood that the author hasn’t given any names to these characters. They are just ‘Man’, ‘The Oarsman’, ‘The Judge’, ‘The Artist’, ‘The Merchant, ‘The Warrior’ and so on.. It is indeed because he wants to generalise them. That point impressed me from the beginning. Moving on to the story, the Oarsman is the tale of a Man who after losing his wife goes on a journey to some wondrous shores but when told that he is not worthy yet, he tries to revisit his past and change whatever necessary to make himself worthy. Throughout the book, he has only one goal and that is to see those promised shores. the Oarsman helps him in such journey while the judge provides the word of caution always reminding him of what he has to do to become worthy. I understood by reading this that both the judge and the oarsman are faces of a coin.
Now for the writing style, it highly impressed me because I literally had goosebumps reading some lines and others just won my heart straight out. Some such quotes are:
She asked her beloved what he wished for, and he said he only wished to sit there with her for as long as forever.

“Stars are funny like this my love,” said the Woman with a warm laugh. “They like thrusting their timelessness into you without even asking.”

“Have you not ached for something so completely that it hollows you out the longer you don’t have it?”
Till the Artist, I was fully engrossed in the story and surprised even myself because I do not usually read any spiritual fantasy and did not think it would suit my taste. But afterwards, as the Merchant came along, I could feel my attention dwindling. What followed is a little confusing because I don’t know if it was my boredom or the book’s change of pace that led to my loss of interest in the story.
It picked up my interest once again in the last few pages but by then I had already endured the tiresome part, so the pleasure was nothing in comparison.


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