The Immortals of Meluha

(Review by Pavithra)

- Amish Tripathi

The central theme of the book is that Hindu mythology may just be an extension of real life incidents and real life people in the past. The author believes that the praises for historical heroes were sung so high that they came to be known as Gods. The object of the book is to bring forth a fictional representation of a wild tribal leader transforming into the mighty Lord Shiva that all Hindus revere.

Meluha is the name given by the author to the ancient Indus valley civilization. It is the great time in India when cities were structured perfectly , men followed the code of honor and duty to the letter. But this mighty civilization is under massive terrorist threat from evil forces. Their own perfect system of conduct has held their population in check while the enemy has greatly outnumbered them. Meluha believes a legend which says that they will be saved from this situation , that all evil will be vanquished by a new Mahadev , the Neelkanth. This savior is of course our hero. The story then narrates the life transformation Shiva undergoes to accept and fulfill his destiny.

The characters in the book all have the names of gods and demigods that Hindus are familiar with. Nandi is Shiva’s most trusted friend instead of a proverbial bull. Parvateshwar is Sati/Parvati ‘s godfather. Brahaspathi is one of the brilliant scientists of Meluha. The best characterization in this book is about Lord Ram. Instead of being a God , he is portrayed as an actual ruler who brought together peace and balance to the people of Meluha. his established empire or “Ram Rajya”  have the doctrines that are told in our myths. Due to his deeds and bravery, the people of Meluha treat his memory on par with the Gods. The author s idea of paralleling with Shiva s destiny gives us an idea of what to expect in Shiva’s future.

The concept of the book is a fresh one. Bringing the Hindu mythology to life through believable incidents is an excellent venture. And the story too is well thought out and well researched so as to bring together reality and supernatural. But the narration itself is very very mediocre. American phrases and slangs thrown in make it all the more hideous. Shiva uttering words like “Bloody Hell” does not justify his character. The writing is also so-so and does not describe the situation and goings on very well. It is sad that what is a brilliant story concept has been treated in a shabby way. In fact the character introduction and descriptions even get a tad monotonous after a while.

The humor in the book is extremely pathetic and the romance also is pretty predictable.

Only the story is the savior of this book.

I picked up the book purely impressed by the cover art shown above. Also the author has done some major marketing by releasing a video trailer and having a website even.

Pick it up if you are interested in the myth-reality confluence of Hindu history. But don’t expect to read the works of a great writer  in it, just a good story. Also , this book is a part of a trilogy called “Shiva trilogy” . So I would pick up the other books out of curiosity hoping that the writing improves and the sequels live up to the expectations and don’t deviate from the story line.

My Rating 3*

The Palace of Illusions

…by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

The Palace of Illusions: A Novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This book narrates us the story of Mahabharat…from Draupadi’s point of view.

I’m not going to narrate the story here for I won’t be able to do any justice trying to capture one of the greatest epics in my own words. So I will just get down to discussing what I thought of the book – I LOVED it.

The book is so well written that even though I knew where the story was headed I couldn’t put it down. Listening to stories from Mahabharat and Ramayan was almost a weekend ritual as I was growing up. So, most of what I read in the book wasn’t new to me. Still, I found myself turning page after page during the past few days until I finally finished reading every single word of it.

My all time favorite characters from Mahabharat are Krishna and Karna. I don’t think anything else fascinates me more than Krishna’s personality. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. Everything from his charm to his mischief, his smile to his intellect has always mesmerized me. And Karna – where do I even start…his loyalty, his generosity – everything so admirable. So, needless to say, reading a story that these two play important roles in engrossed me right from the beginning.

I saw myself easily connecting with the story through Draupadi – her love for her brother, her admiration for her husbands, more importantly the special bond she shared with Krishna and the secret love she carried for Karna – all this I could relate with. From her childhood memories to her wedded days, from her yearning for Karna to her feeling vengeance towards the ones that humiliated her, from her struggle to rebel against the norm to learning to be a good wife and a queen – everything struck a chord somewhere.

Every time she longed for Karna to look at her, I did too. Every time she had tears in her eyes, I welled up. Every time she decided to go against the norm, I supported her wholeheartedly. Every time she cursed herself to be one of the main causes of the war, I could understand. Everything about the book, I loved.

To take one of the epics and weave the story around to present it from Draupadi’s point of view must have been hard. But the author did all the justice to it. As a reader, I couldn’t have asked for more. The flow in the story is amazing.  And the language is easy to follow.

I haven’t read any other books by this author, but after falling in love with her work on this book, I’m definitely going to read more of her soon.

So overall, I loved the book. This book ranks as one of my most favorites, without doubt.

Highly highly recommended.

My rating: 5*.

*for the rating scale, click here.