The Immortals of Meluha

3 May

My reading habit developed in such a way, that for most of my formative years, all the books I read were by authors from English speaking countries. Some years ago, I decided it was high time to start paying attention to Indian authors. During the course of exploring more Indian writing, I have come across some highs and lows. I was sorely disappointed by some like Chetan Bhagat’s Three Point Someone, some seriously bad Indian chick-lit like Opal Mehta… and Almost Single.

I’ve also had my faith restored by beautiful books from wonderful writers like Anita Nair, Kiran Desai and Anjum Hasan. Indian writing has come a long way since the stilted prose and awkward translations of years ago.

The reason for me picking up The Immortals of Meluha is a slightly different story. On my monthly pilgrimage to Blossoms, I had to stay there for a little longer than I had planned, because the skies opened and the rain gods blessed us for over half an hour. Spending more time in Blossom can only have one outcome – my basket got full very quickly.

This was one of the books that drew my attention during this time. And, yes, I freely admit my guilt – on this occasion, it was the cover that made me pick up this book to read the blurb. I was rather thrilled to see that the story was a retelling of a Hindu mythology – of a character who grabs people’s imagination – Shiva. Shiva the destroyer, the dancer, weed smoker whose abode is Mount Kailash. What if he was not a God, but a Tibetan immigrant whose destiny takes him on a long journey? Interesting premise.

And the story did turn out to be a very interesting read. I can’t tell how much research has gone into it – but the author takes bits & pieces of knowledge that we have of the Indus Valley civilization, the Ramayana etc. and gives it some reality-based/modern explanation. The well-laid out cities, the order, governance, attention to hygiene are all aspects that we remember from History textbooks when studying about Mohenjo-daro and Harappa . The romance, the magic, the enmity between the two cultures and Shiva’s role in this reality is a wonderful exercise in imagination.

I have to say though that this is not one of the better written books I have read. There are many bad choices in the usage of words, some awkward constructions. Even the plot dragged a little here and there. The language did hinder the flow of the narrative, making me stop and reread some parts to understand what was implied, or just shake my head mentally to clear it up. The modern jargon, terminology and cuss words are also not the best choice in this story that is based in a magical time. The author would have done well to create a language for the people just like he created their sociocultural outline.

Synopsis: The Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis are sworn enemies whose rivalry goes back generations. The Suryavanshis are the proud descendants of Lord Rama and believe in order, while the Chandravanshis are believers in freedom of the individual. Their cultural differences and twisted recalling of history  have made bitter enemies of these two kingdoms. Enter Shiva, Neelkanth the saviour. Legend has it that Neelkanth will appear at a time when he is most needed and fight for good and put an end to evil. But even for a Mahadev, a saviour, the choices are never simple.

Debut author Amish Tripathi’s first book in the Shiva Trilogy has left its mark on me. It has taken me back to the days when my Grandad used to tell us stories of superhuman heroes arguing about dharma, epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana and tales of devas and asuras.

Good read for anyone who loves mythology and knows something of Indian mythology.

The second and third parts are expected to follow – no dates yet.

Entered in Cym’s Book Review Party Giveaway

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7 Responses to “The Immortals of Meluha”

  1. Shilpa Garg May 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Absolutely! Indian writing has come a long way!! I too am reading a lot of Indian Authors now a days. The Zoya Factor got me started! What I like in the new Indian books is the urban contemporary settings and relationships, with large dollops of humor!!

    Haven’t read this one!! Will check it out!!
    PS: We are a part of The Wordsworth Legion at Cafe Ginger. The action has started there…pls join in!!
    Cheers 🙂

  2. RSV May 20, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    I read the first chapter of the book online. It seems good but the words he has used seems a bit advanced to the age he is talking about.

  3. RSV May 20, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    like ‘I have seen the bed, dammit!’

  4. stargazerpuj May 20, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    @shilpa – will try Zoya Factor next.
    @rahul – exactly – this was one of the things I didn’t like about this book.

  5. The Nerd June 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Although it is a page turner and interesting, It’s difficult to reconcile the fact that book The Immortals of Meluha is set in 1900 BC whereas the language of the book belongs to the 21st century.

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  1. ReCOVERy Friday 2 « Stargazerpuj's Book Blog - October 17, 2010

    […] Read my review of Immortals of Meluha. […]

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