Hello everyone. I am Sharda, I love to read but my busy life leaves little time for any of my hobbies. When I do get a chance to indulge, I love to talk about it. Here I am today to talk about this book I read. If you also happen to have read this one, I would love to hear your thoughts about this book. Now, without holding you up for too long, let me dive into the topic.

Title of the book I read is: The Immortals of Meluha (Book 1 of the Shiva Trilogy). The author of the book is Amish Tripathi. It was first published in New Delhi, India in the year 2010 and has 424 pages in all.

The time setting for this fictional story is 1900 BC. In this book Amish Tripathi, muses about or, should I say, toys around the idea – what if Shiva, one of the three main Gods of the Hindu mythology, was in fact a mortal who lived an exemplary life and eventually became a God due to the heroic actions done during his life time. This story thus uses many of the characters from the actual Shiva purana around which Amish has skillfully woven his own work of fiction. The story in this book has been divided into twenty-six chapters and there are two more books following after this first book.

The setting for the story is the empires of Meluha and Swadweep, which includes: most of Northern India, Pakistan and Egypt were also mentioned in books two and three. All through the story, one thing that stands out is the effort the author makes to give details about locations. It reminded me of the history lessons that I learnt in school. He describes the culture of the Meluhan and Swadweepan people in great detail and the stark contrast between the two cultures is more than obvious. The description of the cities is so detailed that at times I felt that it hindered the smooth narration of the story. I found myself thinking “Come on now, enough of the description, get back to the story!” Generally, I don’t skip even a single word while reading a book but this is the first time I skipped a few paragraphs here and there in order to avoid the unnecessary description and to get to the actual point. I wonder if any of you felt the same way.

The main characters in this story are Shiva, his wife – Princess Sati, emperor Daksha of Meluha, Capt. Nandi, the doctor Ayurvathi, General Parvateshwar, chief scientist Brishaspathi, Naga the mysterious hooded figure, Prime Minister Kanakhala, emperor Dilipa of Swadweep, his children Princess Anandmayi and Prince Bhagirath etc. There are many other secondary characters that make their appearance at different points in the story and play a vital role in shaping up the story such as Vidyunmali, Mayasheinik, the different Pandit ji at the temples etc. The other thing I observed is that there are too many characters in this book. Even though I am familiar with Hindu mythology it was hard to keep track of the characters, who is who and who is doing what. There were times when I had to turn back the pages to cross check the character. I can only imagine the plight of a person who is not familiar with the Hindu mythology. Having said that, I must emphasize that each and every character had a role to play in the story and none of them felt out of place or unrequired.  The character of each and every person has been developed with clarity and all persons in the story act according to their character.

Plot of the story involves many intricacies and the author took his time to gradually unfold the main plot and several subplots. The revealing of each incident and unveiling of each and every concept drags us deeper and deeper into the story. His exceptional story telling skill makes us question what needs to be questioned, form opinions and feel the emotions relating to the events. Shiva the leader of the Guna tribe comes to Meluha on Nandi’s invitation. He is fed up with the constant wars and struggle for survival and wants a peaceful settlement for his tribe. In Meluha he is suddenly looked upon as Lord Neelkant – the prophesied savior. This is because the manner of his arrival and the outcome, of events that followed after his arrival, fit the description perfectly. It takes another 100 to 115 pages to understand the nature of help that Meluha expects from their Neelkant. During this time the author includes many subplots such as the love affair that develops between Sati and Shiva, the concept of Vikarma, the magical somras and its effects, the mystery of the evil Nagas, the Maika system, the Suryavanshi and Chandravanshis etc. The author, very skillfully, paints a picture of who is good and who is bad by the time we reach the halfway mark in the story and then takes the readers racing to the anti-climax. Emotions are high at this point in the story and what is expected in the climax is obvious to all. Just as the all expected actions are executed with full fervor we are in for a rude shock. The last quarter of the book makes the readers question everything and everyone in the story just as some of the main characters do. At this point the story comes to an abrupt halt as Amish cruelly leads us to a situation where the hooded Naga is advancing towards an unsuspecting Sati while Shiva is frantically racing to save her.

To sum up I enjoyed reading the story with all its intricacies. However, I also feel that the elaborate descriptions could have been a little shorter. The story has used a lot of terminology that relates to Sanskrit language and Hinduism.  For this reason, the author has even included a glossary at the end of the book. Thus some sections in the story felt like an educational documentary on the beliefs and culture of ancient Hindus. Some of these details, I felt, could have been avoided. Finally, in order to enjoy the story one has to forget all about the actual story of Lord Shiva and treat this book as just a work of fiction that consists of similar character names.