Friday, June 24, 2011

Review - Immortals of Meluha

I have read many books but never have actually written a review of any book, don’t ask me why I chose this book to write my first review but here it is.
I would like to warn readers here if they haven't already read the book “The Immortals of Meluha” that this review contains plot details and may spoil the fun/mystery of the book if you are planning to read it later.

The “Immortals of Meluha” is the first novel of the ‘Shiva trilogy’ series by Amish Tripathi. The series is based on the premise that “Gods were once human beings; it was their deeds in the human life that made them famous as Gods”. A thought which the analytical part of me really accepts. My Analytical/Scientific part of my brain really has bit difficulty in the concept of Gods/Superior beings. It’s easier for me to believe in Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection. (That doesn’t stop me from calling out God's name when I faced with a difficulty, Hypocrite amn’t I?). Any Indian will love this book, the books Bollywood style story telling will really interest Indian’s

The story takes place in the imaginary land of Meluha. -  A near perfect empire created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram, one of the greatest monarchs that ever lived. The once proud empire and its Suryavanshi rulers face severe perils as its primary river, the revered Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction. 

They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis (reminded of present day India-Pak) who appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracised and sinister race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills. The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient legend – when evil reaches epic proportions, when all seems lost, when it appears that your enemies have triumphed, a hero will emerge(Sounds like a typical Hollywood film tag-line right??).

The story begins with Shiva’s tribe moving into this country on the invitation of the present King Daksha who has been inviting tribes to join his Kingdom in the hope that this hero will be found. When Shiva’s tribe reach the city of Srinagar they are received there by Ayurvati, the Chief of Medicine of the Meluhans. On their first night of stay at Srinagar the tribe is given Somras after which the Gunas woke up with a deep fever and sweating. All except Shiva but his throat had turned blue. The Meluhans announce Shiva as the Neelkanth, their fabled saviour and take Shiva to Devagiri their capital city.

En-route we meet our hero’s heroine Princess Sati, the daughter of Daksha and is a vikarma, an untouchable in this life due to sins of their past births. (I have never understood the concept of caste / untouchability but this is a discussion for another time). She rejects our hero’s advances but ultimately Shiva wins her heart and they decide to get married, even though the “vikarma” rule prohibits them from doing so. Enraged by the so called obsolete law, Shiva declares himself as the Neelkanth and swears to dissolve the vikarma law. Daksha allows Sati to get married to Shiva, amidst much joy and happiness. (Note here how a King allowed the change to a law for his/his daughters benefit, he agreed to change the law standing behind the Neelkanth Shiva, reminds me of the corrupt Indian politicians who know some laws are wrong but still don’t change them till they them self are benefited or they have someone else to take the responsibility for them).

The turning point in the movie (Oops! Book) come when Mount Mandar where the legendary somras is made is attacked and scientist there are killed. Shiva declares war on Chandravanshis. Using his tactical brilliance Chandravanshis are defeated and The Chandravanshi king is captured and brought in front of Daksha. He becomes enraged seeing the Neelkanth and is taken away. It is the Chandravanshi princess, Anandmayi, who tells them that they had a similar legend that the Neelkanth will come forward to save their land by launching an assault against the evil Suryavanshis. Hearing this, Shiva is dumbfounded and is utterly distressed. With Sati he visits the famous Ram temple of Ayodhya, the capital of Swadweep. There he meets the priest from whom he comes to know about the karma, his fate, and his choices in life, which will guide him. After talking to him as Shiva comes out of the temple, he hears a scream. Running to the location he sees in horror as a group of Nagas kidnap Sati and run with them. (Thriller end which makes you panting for the sequel).

I liked this book for the way the story is told a Bollywood potboiler: fast-paced action, flashbacks and, definitely not the least, romance between Shiva and the princess of Meluha, Sati. (The movie based on the book will be coming soon). Also how in many ways a book set in 1900BC reminds me of the modern world. I would really recommend this book to everyone.