Book Review – The First Storyteller

Author – Varun Gwalani
Publisher – Frog Books
Pages – 208
Price -  Rs. 225
First Impressions
The Skiros immediately attracted my attention. Was it a symbol standing pretty in the middle of a forest? Or a gateway to a mystical world? I didn’t know. I kept looking at it for several minutes, playing my little guessing game. There was something mysterious about it, something magical that I had to find out. I jumped in to know about the magical world of the first storyteller.
My View
I don’t know if I should be calling this a book review. For it’s hard to do justice to this amazing display of creativity by Varun Gwalani. I hadn’t read his first book. However, looking at the blurb, a part of me could relate to the protagonist and I immediately wanted to read more.
Still wanna get an idea about the plot? Well, this is the story of a storyteller (no, we don’t know his name). Living in a coastal village, all he had was the power of his stories which only his mentor, the old storyteller understood. After his mentor’s demise, he began to feel a vacuum inside, for he was living in a world which didn’t embrace his ideas. The storyteller had thoughts free like a bird, vast as a sky and fresh as the rain. However, the people around him loved to lead their lives the same way, day after day. They had rules that nobody challenged and monotony was glorified in the name of consistency. It is not a surprise then that the storyteller stood in the village as an odd one out, and was often mocked at for his silly, insane thoughts.
When the river flows against us, we have two options – either to surrender and go with the flow, or to fight our way up. His ideas were succumbing to the disrespect of the people around him. He had no new stories to tell. Not willing to give in to those who never understood him, the storyteller decided it was time to ditch the people who only gave him hatred. Thus began his journey through the Skiro into the mystical forest, a journey to discover life, discover himself. He knew he might never come back. But at least it was better than not trying at all.
More than being an escape from people and places, it was an escape from the mental block that attack most creative people. Just like the journey of life, the forest too gave him an easy option to give up and settle for less. But, in his battle with the demons of his mind, the storyteller had to risk and strive for what he set out for.
The journey that transforms and rejuvenates him also brings him face to face with his fears, apprehensions and mental block. Whether the storyteller overcame these and how, and whether he was able to return from the forest is for the readers to find out.
As I delved deep into the story, I realised this is not just the story of the story teller. This is the story of each one of us, for we all might have felt stuck in the “status quo” at some point in our lives. Like the storyteller, we too are travellers in the forest of life, embarking upon our specific journeys. While giving up is the easiest option, we have to keep moving ahead, for only then can we overcome the roadblocks. We too, like the storyteller encounter demons of our fears, the fairies of emotions, distractions that try to entangle and hold us. However, faith, confidence and focus can have us carve out our path in this forest. Once the distractions are fought over, the mind is cleansed, confident and open for seeds of fresh thoughts to be planted.
The book is like a painting, each person will relate to something and will have a different takeaway from the other one. However, it is a one of its kind story that you don’t get to read everyday. So, grab the book and discover your own path!
Thumbs Up
  • Unique and powerful narration
  • A story everyone can relate to, something tough to achieve in fiction
  • The story maintains its grip on the reader right till the last page
But then, Umm…
Few editorial errors and misprints could have been avoided.
The story takes time to build up the momentum and requires attention, so someone looking for a light read fiction may not be the target reader.

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Have you ever been in a space where you felt that you are just bored of how things are in your life and want to run away to a new place for a new beginning? I would be lying if I don’t admit having these thoughts more than a few times in my life and the book that I am going to review today reminded me of those phases through it blurbs. Needless to say that I try to read anything I can remotely relate to so I decided to say yes to reading The First Storyteller By Varun Gwalani.


The First Storyteller is all about a Storyteller who is unhappy with the stifling monotony of his everyday life in the village. He has always been fascinated by the vast Forest that exists on the other side of the villages and to escape his life he decides to explore it.  He had heard countless stories about the mysterious nature of the forest and throughout his journey, he comes across alot of things he had heard about and they are sometimes much worse than he had expected.

I really appreciated the author’s style of writing and the narration kept my interest in the story at its peak. There are alot of different stories within the story without confusing the plot. Language is pretty straight forward and simple but the strong character development along with the writing style adds a certain kind of depth to the simple words making it a perfect example of good writing.

The story does lose its pace in some parts and you feel a sense of urgency to know what is going happen next. I found that both interesting and annoying but I do feel there are a few unnecessary pages in some chapters that do nothing for the overall plot.

The story is truly a spectacular read and to be honest I have not read something this simple yet this impressive for a while now. I hate books with preachy tones and even though the various incidents in the protagonist’s life try to give a moral of the story vibe, the author has done a great job in hiding it within words that make you think rather than taking the self-help book tone. Definitely worth a read so go grab a copy.

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Book Review – The First Storyteller by Varun Gwalani


“On the other side of the village was the vast, infinite Forest. It was the land of mystery, lore and legend and I had always been drawn to it… When my eyes alighted on it, everything came together once more. I knew what I had to do. I needed to leave. I needed to dream. I was going to be a revolutionary, simply now because I had that eternal currency that all revolutions deal in: Hope.”
Unhappy with the stifling monotony of everyday life, a storyteller decides to leave everything behind. The First Storyteller recounts the incredible and transformative journey that the storyteller embarks upon. Through a wide variety of styles and genres, the book draws upon a very idea of stories to bring to you a unique tale that is simultaneously funny, tragic and hopeful. It brings to the forefront the emotional turmoil of a deeply conflicted individual, and in the end, the question becomes not what is at the end of the Path, but whether the person who starts the journey would be the same as the one who ends it.
About the story-
The story is about a Storyteller, who, fascinated by the vast Forest, decides to explore its vastness. Exhausted with his village life and all the discouragement that he got there, he leaves the village in a hope of becoming no less than a revolution. Throughout his journey, he comes across innumerable surprising and amusing things that have something or the other to convey to the readers.
Writing and Narration-
The author has done a great job in showing his different style of writing. The author’s raw writing style is what makes the book intriguing. The language is simple and easy to understand. However, the story becomes a bit confusing in the middle. The printing and punctuation errors are the drawbacks of the narration. Besides these mistakes, I simply loved the way the story has been written.
Title and cover-
The title of the book charms the readers. I chose this book for the review just by having a glance at its title. The title conveys its own mystery that needs to be explored. As far as the cover is concerned, then it is not much appealing.
My verdict-
The story is raw and stands aside from all the mainstream stories. The author’s raw and different style makes it more interesting. Throughout the protagonist’s journey, he comes across various obstacles that give readers some lessons for life, for instance – you have to let go of the people for their good, you have to stick to your path no matter how many attractions come in the way, nobody is going to believe you until you do, stop dreaming and start doing, and so many other motivational lessons. Kudos to the author for penning down such a beautiful story!
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