Book Review: The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi

India is full of folklore and mythology; every religion, every historical book, every grandmother has millions of tales to tell. Sometimes the history and the mythology/folklore blends so closely that we divide in opinions and debate over it. With all this, it is a surprise, that there are such few Indian fantasy books borrowing from our mythology.

The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi is one such brilliant attempt. The first book in the series, The Immortals of Meluha, is a fresh take on Lord Shiva whom we meet regularly in temples and shivalyas, but have never had such a fantastic vision of.

Amish has picked one of the most multifaceted Gods from Hindu mythology to weave his tale about. He takes a God we believe in and turns him into an ordinary man, then tells a tale of how the ordinary man transforms into a God due to his conduct, choices, deeds, and destiny. He tells a fascinating tale of the characters we have grown up hearing of and brings them all to life, molding their characters as per his story’s requirement. It is a heady cocktail of mythology as we know it and fantastic tale of his own. In no way could one consider this book a religious book though.

The book starts off with a young tribal leader in Tibet, who is cheerful, carefree, and yet dedicated and strong in both mind and body. His courage makes him highly respected among his tribe of Gunas, and hence, no one questions his decision to move away from Mansarovar and migrate Meluha for a better life.

Meluha is a region so advanced that it has the barbarians from Tibet in awe. In the well-planned, near-perfect capital of Meluha begins the journey of Shiva that transforms his life and leads him to his destiny.

As the secrets of Meluha slowly reveal themselves to Shiva, he finds himself with a new title – Neelkanth – and millions of blind followers. This gives him both power and responsibility, the balance between the two is what Shiva strives to maintain. Shiva is now expected to fight the evil Chandravanshis and their aides, Nagas.

In the city of Devagiri, Shiva makes friends, and gains some foes, but he also finds the love of his life – the perfect woman, full of courage and beauty – Sati. He learns about the lifestyle, history, and principals of the Suryavanshis, the decedents of Lord Ram. Shiva admires and respects Lord Ram’s teachings and rules, but he does not hesitate to question their validity in current times.

Will he be able to rid Meluha off the evil terrorists? Of course, he is Shiva! But with the victory, he will also find himself surrounded by disarray of beliefs, and questioning his own actions. Is evil a relative expression?

The book’s biggest strength is how it plucks the mythological characters from the epics and plants them into the tale with fitting characters, but still ensures that they are all humans. The subplots tell tales of Vasudevs, Sati, Nandi, Gunas, Daksh, Rudra, Devas and Asuras, and more making it strikingly clear that everyone, including Gods, can make mistakes. The narrative is lucid and the story is well-paced, and while I am not a fan of the cliffhanger at the end (it could have been done better. We all know Parvati cannot die while she is pregnant!), I wouldn’t complain too much.

The language used is fairly simple, but the fascinating narrative makes up for it. All in all, a well-written book with a refreshing view that made me pick up the sequel within two days.

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3 Responses to “Book Review: The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi”

  1. Parvati was Shiva’s second wife. He married her after Sati’s death.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakshayani

    • sunshin3girl Says:

      That’s what I remembered from my textbook too but in this book, the author says “Sati’s other name is also Parvati, which she gets from being Parvateshwer’s God child.” No? I thought Amish mixed the two into one.

  2. Nice review. In the Purana, Sati died and then was reincarnated as Parvati. Hence, Sati and Parvati are one and the same, basically…
    Amish took the liberty to mesh the two women (who are basically one soul) into one woman. Fine with me, I still love this book so much!

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