‘The Secret of the Nagas‘, the second book in Shiva Trilogy by Amish T takes off exactly where ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ the first book of ends – Sati-Shiva in engaged in a battle with mysterious Naga. It starts with action and ends with a surprise (that you begin to hope for while you are half-way through this book.)
Shiva trilogy traces the story from 1900 BC, when Shiva migrates from Mount Kailash in Tibet to Suryavanshi land called Meluha. Advent of Shiva unites talented, rule-bound Suryavanshis are united with their arch-rivals – the free-willed, unorganised Chandravanshis since they both believe in the legend of Neelkanth as saviour. (Amish interestingly puts it as masculine vs. feminine behaviour contrast on Pages 49-52.) Even though a legend of Neelkanth exists, Shiva is not a God – rather a wise man, struggling with his own demons, learning to play the role of ‘Mahadev’. Mahadev, to be noted, is a designation, not a reincarnation of a God. In this role, he is aided by Vasudev pundits at various temples, who can ‘radio transmit’ their thoughts and have conversations with him via radio waves (ooh!).
In The Secret of the Nagas, Shiva realises that Nagas – the deformed creatures believed to be evil – have more role to play than it meets the eye. With the help from both Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis, Shiva is hot on the pursuit of a Naga who he believes has killed his friend Brahaspati – and everywhere he looks, he finds a new trail or connection to secretive Nagas.
Meanwhile, Shiva who had fallen in love and married Sati, daughter of extremely friendly Meluhan king Daksha, in the first book also becomes a father. The story about his first son and his turbulent relationship with his parents is the most poignant part of this book.
This books as its previous one is a page turner – the plot is smooth and all the loose ends connect to a complete pattern. Story as before is fast-paced, you are eager to know what comes next. I had my theories about the book, I am glad to confess that this book was not predictable as I had thought it to be. This I consider as an achievement of the book. Unlike first book, Shiva and his immediate family (his wife and sons) are the primary characters of this book. There are several revelations – the boundaries between good and evil seem to blur. Ganesha, the first son, is my favorite character in this book.
Other old characters such as Nandi, Veerbhadra and Drapaku have smaller roles, instead a Chandravanshi prince Bhagirath is the new character that has his own intriguing sub-plot. General Parvateshwar, Shiva’s trusted Suryavanshi aide from previous book, a vowed celibate has fallen in love (oops, a spoiler – but now you need to find out who).
The language of the book remains a constant irritant as it was in the last book as well. Several conversations (even those of Sati-Shiva) come across as corny. Language, in a desperate attempt to be contemporary is uninspiring and a turn-off at times. There are editing errors like one on Page 50 (first sentence) – an incorrect usage of ‘it’s’. Amish as before tries to include war strategies. (I clearly remember an indignant reader of the first book who complained that war stratagem was taken off the movie Gladiator!) But, it is the elaborate description of temple layouts and structures in the book that I find incredibly boring.
However, despite its superficial style of writing, the semi-historic retelling of story in the way it weaves mythology still makes the book worth a read.
Post the Tossed Salad Book Club Meeting (another record of the same book club meet)