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The Shiva Trilogy, Parts 1 and 2

Came across this series while browsing bookstores in India. Thanks to vacation time, I could polish off the first and second parts in four days, just like old times! The first book is titled “The Immortals of Meluha” and the second is “The Secret of the Nagas”. I can’t remember the last time I’ve finished books any faster. Probably during my undergraduate years.

In this fictional twist on history, there were in 1900 BC two main kingdoms established in the Indian subcontinent — the Suryavanshis in the west, in the region we know as the Indus valley; and the Chandravanshis in the valley of the Ganges in the east. South India was home to a civilization of outcasts — the Nagas. In the Himalayan tribes dwelling near Mansarovar lake is born a man — Shiva — who is destined to become a God, the prophecised “destroyer of evil”. The Suryavanshis, whose kingdom and way of life is under attack from mysterious forces, discover Shiva and look to him to be their savior, even as he remains unsure of how exactly he is to fulfill his destiny.

The action and events of the plot are fast paced, even though the descriptions are somewhat threadbare. However, after the travails of going through never-ending series like the Wheel of Time (I’m still struggling through it), I was rather happy to trade verbosity for a plot that actually moves. The first part of the first book feels a little too predictable but the plot soon develops a number of very interesting twists. Through the two books, the focus moves to the fundamental question Shiva was born to answer — what is meant by “Evil”? It is simple to destroy an object, a person, a civilization or a species, but how does one destroy the abstraction of evil?

The book is most interesting for its parallels to, and interpretation of, Hindu philosophy and lore. The question of ‘what is evil’ of course is one such parallel, but there are plenty of others — the nature of Shiva and his family — wife Parvati and son Ganesha; the caste system; the legend of Kashi. Amish Tripathi has managed to spin a fabulously interesting tale, and I look forward to the third part of the trilogy which is probably coming out sometime next year.

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