Book Review: Shiva Trilogy
by Amish for me will always represent that whiff of freshness that stormed the Indian literary scene that was nearly choking with louveeee in 2010! (not that the scene is any different now [after 3 years] but the winds are definitely changing). The mythological – historical – adventure – fiction series is all but immortalized as one of the trend changers amongst Indian books and Indian publishing as a whole. The series is creative, out-of-the-box and very much Indian. That exactly could be the reason why Amish is the latest rockstar of Indian writing in English (I mean that apart from the fact that he decided to be the CEO of his book.)
I have read the three books over the years, in the respective year’s of their releases, and that was way before The Tales Pensieve was conceptualized. While the whole Vayuputras craze was prevalent amongst readers in February 2013 (the month of release of the third and final book of the series) I did realize while talking to a few semi-reader friends that while a lot of us many be gung-ho about the series, an even bigger lot of them had heard about the series lately, mostly after that 5-core deal the author signed for his next series.
That realization and an idea prompt of my best friend has propelled this all in one review of the series. Over to you – the reviews, in order of the books publication:
A real man, with a trident, hair in locks, rudraksh beads and battle scars. Displayed on the bestsellers self – in crossword bookstore, Shivaji Park, Mumbai. That was my first rendezvous with Amish’s Shiva. The cover looked interesting and the punchline, “The Story of the man, whom legend turned into a god” was punching enough to land the book into my buying cart.
Shiva – is a Tibetian tribal chief who is as fierce as he is moral. He hates the frequent fights he and his tribe fight by the holy lake Mansarovar for mere existence. He is seeking a way out of this and the way is seeking him too. Meluha – The kingdom of perfection beyond the mountains. Meluha is seeking immigrants and its commander Nandi is at Mansarovar seeking Shiva’s alliance. The tribal chief decides to give his tribe a deserving life and adapt to an alien culture. He heads with his tribe – Gunas – across the mountains to Meluha. To the suyavanshis. To his destiny. To the legend that awaits him.
In Meluha, in a bizarre incident the life enhancing connotation somras ends up giving Shiva a blue throat and with it the awe of all Meluhans. Because he is now the Neelkanth. The legend of suyavanshis comes alive, for the blue throated one is the choosen one. The living god. The one who will lead the suyavanshis to victory against their arch rivals chanravanshis who have stooped low enough to even recruit the brutal, evil assassins – the nagas. He also meets the beautiful Sati who is ordained to a life of loneliness by the perfect rituals of the perfect society in the perfect kingdom.
Shiva has to decide and decide quickly – between good and bad. Virtuous and evil. Right and wrong. And for that he has to chose between being man and becoming god. Becoming Mahadev. The god of the gods.
Amish portrays the most non-aryan god of the Hindu trinity in his best rockstar avatar. The concept is fresh, ideas brave and writing simple. The narrative is pacy and the book rushes through – pausing at the right places for the correct duration – and then riding out to a very pulsating end. The climax makes you wish the sequel was out, right away.
Not to be missed at any cost. Recommended read.
Watch the Words:
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One of my most awaited books in 2011. Since Harry Potter I have not waited for a book sequel this bad and never for one from an Indian writer. The Immortals of Meluha – the prequel to this book by Amish had blown away my mind with a tale within the tale that we all know and so Nagas was completed within two days!
The book starts off exactly from where the prequel ended. Sati is attacked by a Naga and Shiva is in pursuit of the Naga. Shiva and Sati give the Naga a tough chase but he escapes but leaves behind a gold coin that leads Shiva to the kingdom of Branga, situated in eastern India at the confluence of rivers Brahmaputra and Ganga. The kingdom of Branga being somewhat hostile to Ayodhya, Shiva and Sati go to Kashi, which has a reputation of being a patient city to all people and thus houses a colony of Branga’s too. While they are in Kashi, a mini riot breaks out against the Branga’s and Parvateshwar (Shiva’s army chief from Meluha) is mortally injured trying to pacify the mob. Ayurvati tries her best to revive him fails, as the wounds were deep. Divodas, the chieftain of the Branga’s in Kashi as a thanksgiving for saving his people gives a medicine to Ayurvati, which has miraculous effects, and Parvateshwar is revived and starts recovering well. Ayurvati informs Shiva that the medicine had herbs that are only found in Panchavati, the capital of Nagas. Divodas informs Shiva that the Branga’s are yearlong affected by plague and need medicines that only the Nagas make to keep alive and that is why Branga’s and Nagas are ally’s.
In his quest to reach the Nagas, Shiva decides to go to Branga. While Shiva is waiting for the special ships that will take him to Branga (as you cannot enter Branga just like that because of their advanced technological fortifications on the rivers) to be built, his and Sati’s son – Kartik is born. After which Shiva leaves for Branga with his team and Sati stays back in Kashi to help the king fight against lion killings in the kingdom. On reaching Branga, Shiva finds out that the Branga’s are in alliance with the Nagas for the sake of the medicine and till Branga is not able to make that medicine on its own the alliance will have to continue. He also gets to know that apart from the Nagas only one man can make those medicines – a Bandit by the name of Parashuram, who kills anyone who tries to come near his part of the jungle. Shiva’s entourage after much bloodshed wins over Parashuram’s army and he readily surrenders the medicine recipe to Shiva when he learns that HE IS the Neelkanth. Shiva also learns that Parashuram is a Vasudev pandit (shiva’s guides and philosophers) and his story from a pandit to a bandit is what changes Shiva’s perception about the Nagas. While in Kashi, Sati goes to fight the pride of lions that were killing villagers with a group of soldiers. While there she miscalculates the number of lions in the pride and she is nearly killed under the attack when a group of Nagas come to her rescue. After the rescue operation the leaders of the Nagas a women who looked exactly like sati but with deformations and a man, again deformed claims to be related to her.
Sati related to Nagas while Shiva believes that he will find evil when he reaches the Nagas!
And the man is the one who Shiva believes killed his brother-friend Brahaspati!
Their revelation points out that Meluha after all is not as perfect as it seems!
Author Amish spins another tale of fascination and shifting beliefs. For someone who has grown up on Indian Mythology the Shiva trilogy is a path breaker. Whenever a new character is introduced the story that you grew up on comes to the mind and then the connection between the characters in your mind and the book comes up. The book is racy, intelligent and notion breaker. As an individual book it is excellent but comparison with the prequel will dim its glory. The Nagas lacks the punch of Meluha. You will like it if you are a mythology fiction fan but you will love it only because you are a Shiva Trilogy fan.
p.s. Though I think it is good as a stand alone book but you will enjoy it fully only if you have read the prequel, else you will find more mysteries than there actually are.
A page turner. Must read for a Mythology Fiction or Historical Fiction fan.
Watch the Words:
* This review was written after reading the book in 2011; a draft review which got retrieved from the laptop for this combined review. One of the first book reviews I ever wrote.
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Part of South Asian Challenge 2013
I have always disliked ends. As a reader when you have loved a series, lived with the characters, imagined them come alive as you transverse through the pages, concluding part are words that evoke mixed feelings. The excitement of getting answers to all the questions raised in the earlier parts of the series but a sense of loss too. It happened with Harry Potter (HP) and now it happened with Shiva too. Compared to the HP series the global popularity is not a comparative factor but to a reader a book is a book; a character is a character; It eventually boils down to the reader and the character and this reader feels a sense of loss already; seeing the cover, the trailer, the song – the realization strikes home – The concluding part of The Shiva Trilogy is here.
Like the prequels of the book, the cover is a stunner. We finally see Shiva. All ablaze with fury, exhibited in the fire around him, taking aim with the Pinaka as India burns. But I would still say the cover of is what takes the cake. The story takes off from Panchavati where it concluded in . Shiva finally knows the name of the evil though not the face of the evil’s protector and Shiva’s nemesis. The legend of the Neelkanth continues and truth has been shown to him but he is the one who needs to decide – what is evil. Shiva moves on in his quest to know the real truth, to decide if the evil is really evil? Has the balance between good and evil eventually tilted? Because that will decide if he indeed is the famed Neelkanth. He goes forth and meets the zealously secretive tribe left by Lord Ram – The Vasudevs. The picture is clearer than ever to Shiva and he finally decides to battle the evil and its protectors head on.
He starts gathering his forces. It is battle between the powers of beliefs. The belief in the Neelkanth vs the belief in Meluha’s systematic governance. Battle lines are being drawn up on both ends, loyalties are getting divided on both sides and India is gearing up to witness a god’s battle against evil. An evil with the mask of good.
Meanwhile memories haunt Shiva, nightmares of separation from each other trouble both him and Sati and strategies are getting foiled by a rock steady opposition. Failing after nearly winning it all Shiva heads to the last resort – The vayuputras. The near mystic, another over zealously secretive tribe. This one left by Lord Rudra. The creators of Neelkanth. The possessors and custodians of Davi Astras (divine weapons). The roots to Shiva. Shiva travels to the distant Pariha – the land of the Vayuputras – leaving behind Sati, Ganesh, Karthik, Kali and the allied forces. But a conspiracy is underway. Will all survive in status quo as when Shiva returns? Will he return with the power to beat the evil? Will all that power still mean the same?
Amish is in his element yet again with this book. The greatest strength of the writer and the biggest positive of the series is its creativity. I have said this before, I say it again – Amish is an excellent storyteller. He took tales that most Indians have grown with, gave them an earthy, logical twist, added some well researched dash of history put in a rockstar god as the protagonist and lo and behold he has the country hooked to his tales and that has got him the rating here. The creativity. You see a considerable upward movement in the complexity of his language as the series has progressed. While in The Immotals of Meluha the language was plain and simple, it started getting knotty in The Secret of the Nagas and with this one he definitely has moved on to a higher plain. I see this book pretty much poised to take on the global, traditionally English speaking readers. A very positive move. The narrative is racy, exciting and every bit of a page turner.
But inspite of being high on creativity the book drags, in parts. Not because of the narrative style but because of the one lacuna that is the bane of high research involving books – Information overload. We saw this happen in The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi and now again in this one. Amish in this one could not control the needed & not needed bit in the story and parts of the story has portions that could have been done without. The editor too fails the author here. Likewise the end dragged on and on. Unlike what I said at the start of this review, I wished the book would end.
All in all a fitting end to one of the most innovative fiction to come up in recent times. Inspite of the drag you cannot take the magic of Shiva Trilogy or Amish’s storytelling away from it. Not to be missed but read the first two parts before this one. THAT is only how the magic will manifest.
If you love reading, if you can read English, then this series which will for sure go down in the history of Indian literature as a trend changer must be read!
Watch the Words:
Best Price iRecommend: Buy The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras [Box Set Pack] from Infibeam.com
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Browse through the full list of book reviews in the depths of the Pensieve.