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. 


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