“Come be a part of the journey to push the very boundaries of man’s imagination. Mudmen is a story unlike anything you have ever seen before.”
It’s hard not to take that bold opening as an affront, and to start exhaustively noting down every familiar trope from fantasy and apocalyptic fiction out of spite. Considering one of the major themes of Mudmen is the arrogance of creators, this irony seems to be lost on its young author.
But more self-awareness would only have stifled the artistic vision that powered this run-of-the-mill opus, filled as it is with incongruous imagery that might as well be from the author’s dreams for all the sense it makes. You can’t accuse Shitij Sharma of jumping on the latest trendy bandwagon, unless I’m out of touch and there’s been a surge of stories about bitter dwarfs warping the world to their own hubristic ends. Disappointingly, it looks like the sequels might be treading down the more familiar path of young adult stories about heroic young adults.
What mainly bugged me was the length. If this first part is representative of the whole, the final ‘trilogy’ will only amount to a fairly short novel. I understand that serialising stories is one of the few ways unknown authors can hope to make money out of their passion, but I would have been more impressed if this was more than an extended prologue.
If you’re in the right frame of mind or reading under the influence, Mudmen could be considered a visionary work comparable to the uncompromising films of Jodorowsky or Blake’s prophecies. But that would be a little generous. With his obvious drive, the teenage author’s got a long career ahead of him, and this trilogy is destined to be a curiosity of the early years before he found his voice and created his masterpieces.