The Iljjock Yoke is the first novel in the series, Yadduk and the Gods of Seabor. It is the story of a young cowherd named Yadduk who lived in Lachvi, an ancient village that existed in the Himalayas in 294 B.C. He is abducted by the mountain god - an eerie spirit that roams in the mountains and devours young cowherds! The mountain god travels through black holes and carries Yadduk to his home planet, Seabor, which is a strange world of undulating liquid helium oceans and glowing radioactive forests. He introduces him to his people, the iljjocks. The iljjocks are godlike creatures who look like animals. A dog-faced iljjock informs Yadduk that he has been brought to Seabor for a great purpose- he had to mate one of them and attain divine powers! And, go back to Earth and distribute the powers to the rest of the human race. So that the humans could help them fight their enemies, the vile and vicious seamones! Then onwards, begins Yadduk’s eye-popping adventure! Will he marry and mate into a clan of pigs, bears or goats? Will he attain divine powers and become God Yadduk? Will he return to his village to distribute the powers to the villagers? Will the villagers accept him if he has a pig for wife and piglets for children? And, would the villagers still be alive? Because, for one day that passed on Seabor, a hundred years passed on Earth!
Yadduk is a bold and courageous hero charged with saving the universe from evil. Vaani’s many vibrant characters mirror his charisma, including his soul mate Elli and his stout, short bodied iljjock friends, and imaginative world building keeps the novel engaging, even as the tension sometimes unravels. Vaani paints an enchanting and unique universe (one goddess resides in a wooden abode at the bottom of the ocean), though some of her inventions edge into the eccentric, as when Yadduk, newly arrived to Seabor, is granted three phalluses, or the revelation that iljjocks excrete waste by having tiny creatures suck it out of them.
Religious themes are delicately woven into the action -- dead human souls transported to a hellish black hole called Norrs, where God Aakaa torments the souls -- but the action remains rooted in science fantasy. Vaani’s excessive in her usage of exclamation marks, but it’s easy to be excited about these characters and ideas. Science fiction lovers looking for a good versus evil tale with high stakes and religious undertones will find much to enjoy.
Takeaway: This dynamic story wins science fantasy fans over with inventive aliens, religious undertones, and a courageous hero on a mission to save the universe.
Great for fans of: Ted Dekker’s Circle series, Clive Barker’s Abarat
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: A