Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shiva Trilogy by Amish

Talking about a trilogy is easy; there’s just so much to talk about . I’d like to start at the beginning; the language. While the language & the dialogues are definitely better than Chetan Bhagat; they are also needlessly dumbed down. It’s almost like the girls who act dumb to get the big, smart man.

Having gotten that out of the way; let me admit – I LOVED the books.  Yes it dragged it parts and yes the author Amish tries too hard to explain the stories but it all adds up to a rollicking read. (I’m so glad I found a book I can say that about!)

The first book is called The Immortals of Meluha. We start with the premise that all Indian gods were actually mortal & that it was mythology that made them Gods. Amish then goes on to amazingly tie-in the stories everyone knows about Shiva with a fictional storyline.

Shiva is the leader of a tribe of Gunas from the area near Lake Mansarovar. To save his tribe from the various everyday struggles they face, Shiva accepts an offer to join the advanced civilization of Meluha. They have beautifully planned cities, great governance & have developed the formula for the ‘Somras’ – a drink that grants longevity. Drinking it causes Shiva’s neck to turn blue; bringing to life an old legend of how the Neelkanth (the blue-throated lord) would save the world from evil.

Playing their part in making him realize his importance to Indian society is a list of characters that is a veritable who’s who of Indian mythology. From love interest Sati, to Nandi, Brihaspati & even Daksha; all these characters are well drawn & explained with great depth.

In the background, we also get an insight to the architecture, science & systems that were around in ancient India. The world Amish draws for us is so cool that it reminded me of steam-punk!

The three distinct empires are also well described; the methodical, systematic & rule-bound Suryavanshi Meluhans, the self-willed, headstrong, creative & individualistic Chandravanshi Swadweepans & the Naga Dandaka. The Nagas are the cursed race, looked down upon by both Suryavanshis & Chandravanshis due to the bodily deformities they suffer.

Shiva is still trying to adapt to his new life when he has to lead a war after an attack that appears to have orchestrated by the Chandravanshis & the Nagas. Displaying great military know-how & tactics, Shiva wins but manages to change everything he thought was true.

Entering the world of the second book, The Secret of the Nagas, is a necessary evil after the cliff hanger the first book leaves you on. The story of the deformed Nagas is so very well explained that on its culmination, I had goose bumps.  

This book also introduces the fearsome Parshuram & Shiva’s son with Sati, Kartik; both names that featured in many of my Amar Chitra Katha books. There are two more characters central to the book but all I’ll tell you about them is that just their stories alone are worth the price of the book. The actual secret of the Nagas however, leads to a pretty predictable ending.

The trilogy ends with The Oath of The Vayuputras; a book that aims to tie up all loose ends. Shiva faces his toughest decisions, faces really unpalatable truths & finally leads the readers to a conclusion that is not only dramatic but also unnecessary.

With the world around him asking for more from him, Shiva tries to do everything & be everywhere. But that tactic brings big trouble to those he holds dearest. Now if you know your mythology, you know where this is going… but I bet you won’t be able to stop yourself from watching everything go down in flames.

TL;DR version: The Shiva trilogy by Amish may not be well written or have a great ending; but the research & thought gone behind executing this trilogy deserves all the love it has gotten for the author. It’s a fun masala mix with a great backdrop of mythology.

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