Sep 27, 2011

The Secret of the Nagas: Book Review

The Secret of the Nagas: The sequel in the Shiva Trilogy.
Author: Amish Tripathi
Publisher: Westland
My Rating:  **1/2

Since I read this sequel to the ‘ The Immortals of Meluha’ right after, expectations from this second book were even greater. That must have been the only reason why the second book from the same writer became a very big disappointment for me. From the first book I’d decided that Amish Tripathi is a very intelligent writer but ‘The Secret of the Nagas’ has brought him rungs lower than he’d actually climbed up to, in my opinion.
The book cover is so intriguing and the book title promises the unearthing of some tantalizing secret between the pages but nothing like that happened. One of the sinister Nagas has murdered Brahaspati, the great scientist of Meluha who had become Shiva’s quite a good friend. Subsequently the death threat was on Sati, Shiva’s beloved wife. So Shiva is out to hunt the dangerous Naga down. The Neelkanth has more than one reason to wipe out the Chandravanshis who had resorted to using the Nagas in their war with the Suryavanshis. In this second book Shiva has evolved into a more confident and valiant leader, hell bent upon carrying out the duty of destroying evil, his supposed role at Meluha.
As the story unfolded I was desperately waiting for some big Naga secret to be out but there is nothing very serpentine or mystical about them apart from the fact that they are mere mortals with a host of physical abnormalities. The slow discovery of the exact location of the Naga kingdom-Panchvati seems to be the whole motive of the book.
Amish has introduced new characters into Shiva’s tale and weaved in some more mythical stories with Parshuram but I am still stuck with the niggling thought there isn’t much to read about the mysterious Naga clan. Is it just me or has Amish really not put as much pain and research into the sequel as he’d in the Immortals of the Meluha? I wish he’d layered and laid out the stories in a better flow like the first book. Somehow I did not find the second book as spell-binding. What is a saving grace is that Amish has a way with his descriptive style. The Battle of Madhumati is well-painted using good words before the reader’s eyes.
Then  Amish has tried to shock the readers by introducing the Naga Queen as Sati’s twin sister Kali whom Sati’s father had abandoned. Sati also has a son Ganesh, the Lord of the people, whom she’s accused of having abandoned herself.  This twist in the mythological tales I have grown up with didn’t go down well with me, however. The Sequel is a poor patch on Amish’s previous success. It is very unfair to keep comparing the two books but it is happening very naturally and unintentionally. The Immortals of Meluha told a contemporary story based on legends that were smart and intellige ntly crafted. The Secret of the Nagas, is full of poor attempts at recreating those clever twists.  
Taking potshots at the Bengali community through the stories of the Brangas, was quite unrequired in my opinion. And the prime minister of the Branga kingdom loaded with gold jewellery named Bappiraj dragged the great music director Bappi Lahiri into the Shiva Trilogy. I found that very silly too! Or may be its just my lack of sense of humour.
Now I shall stop wallowing in my disappointment in the book and just wrap up by saying Amish could have done far better. 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Sep 20, 2011

The Immortals of Meluha: Book Review

The Immortals of Meluha: The first book of the Shiva Trilogy.
Author: Amish Tripathi
Publisher: Westland
My Rating:  ****

The book cover will definitely draw the BholeNath fans towards. A fine illustration of how Amish describes Shiva – a lithe muscular body with numerous battle scars on his skin. 
The back cover blurb however instantly erases any chances of the reader expecting a mythological tale.  It clearly states that this is the story of a man whom legend has turned into God. Interesting! So this should be a completely different and contemporary take on the age-old stories our grannies have been telling us about Lord Shiva. And indeed it turns out to be quite a good read.
Amish is an intelligent writer and the kind of research that has gone into the book shows. It is amazing to see how each character connected with Shiva and his mythological stories, appears and develops as the story unfolds.
 Shiva is in fact a mere mortal, the chief of a mountain tribe called the Gunas who live in the Himalayas. Nandi is one of the captains of the Meluhan tribe who is sent by the King Daksha to invite Shiva and his tribe to their land. The land of Meluha is supposedly the glorious land which Lord Ram established. And this is the land which we modern Indians mistakenly call the Indus Valley civilization. I loved the way the land has been described, so thrilling. Wonder why our History textbooks couldn’t be made this interesting?
At a point I found a strange connection with present day situations where the Suryavanshis of the Land of Meluha are at terrible loggerheads with the Chandravanshis who rule over Lord Ram’s birthplace- Ayodhya! Now does that ring a bell???
On arrival in Meluha, Shiva and his tribe are quarantined and administered the Somras by a Meluhan doctor Ayurvati and her nurses. The medicine was to decontaminate them from any kinds of disease they could be carrying. It is the Somras that turns Shiva’s throat blue making him the much awaited NeelKanth. Shiva’s life changes forever. He is no longer a mere caste unmarked immigrant in Meluha but the savior of the Suryavanshis, the destroyer of all evil. The NeelKanth is expected to eradicate the terrorist Chandarvanshis who are allegedly destroying their river Saraswati. Shiva remains in denial for a good half of the book and that’s where I felt the story dragged a bit.
Shiva meets with Sati the daughter of King Daksha who is a Vikarma- carriers of bad fate and hence cannot be touched. Shiva however falls in love with her and come what may is bent upon getting her.  It is an emotionally high point when Shiva as NeelKanth makes a public appearance and reaches out to a blind old man considered as Vikarma to express his dislike for this unfair rule and wishes that such discrimination could be stopped.
Between a lot of battle, politics and philosophy there is Sati who refuses to accept Shiva’s love and that she needs happiness too. I found the story telling drags once again. However all’s well that ends well!  I like all love stories to end on a positive note and that is just what happens.
The concluding chapter ‘The Question of Questions’ is quite a lesson in its own. I would conclude that the book is an overall good read.

Thanks to BlogAdda I got to read this book earlier than I'd expected. 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!