Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi


The Immortals of Meluha
Author: Amish Tripathi
ISBN: 978-9380658742

Buy from amazon: The Immortals of Meluha

Buy in India:

The Immortals of Meluha, by Amish Tripathi, has received over 60% 5-star and 4-star ratings on goodreads and an even higher percentage on flipkart. People went as far as to comment that it was Indian's answer to the Harry Potter series! I figured that was an exaggeration, but expected it to be at least better than Chetan Bhagat's books. After reading the book, I couldn't make up my mind on that one!

Blurb from The Immortals of Meluha:

1900 BC. In what modern Indians mistakenly call the Indus Valley Civilisation. The inhabitants of that period called it the land of Meluha, a near perfect empire created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram, one of the greatest monarchs that ever lived.

The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient legend: When evil reaches epic proportions, when all seems lost, when it appears that your enemies have triumphed, a hero will emerge. Is the rough-hewn Tibetan immigrant Shiva, really that hero?

Before I begin my review, let me first clarify something - The Immortals of Meluha is, by no means, an accurate portrayal of the Indian mythology or history. At best, it can be called a poor mix of mythological characters, historical background of the Harappan culture and contemporary Indian social-issues. The book could (and should!) have been written as pure fiction. Books based on historical/mythological events should be so convincing that they should make the reader wonder if all that really happened. When I finished reading Wilbur Smith's Egyptian series, I actually spent an entire day on wikipedia, digging up the ancient Egyptian history! But The Immortals of Meluha made it very obvious that this was purely a work of fiction!

The over-use of foul-language did not help in giving any kind of plausibility to the plot. It's kind of hard imagining Gods and members of the Suryavanshi dynasty with that kind of verbal diarrhea. And references to modern science technology (such as 'oxygen') in a plot based in 1900 B.C. ??? Surely 'oxygen' was unheard of at that time, right?

The characters are forgettable. Lot of "talk" about the characters, by the other characters in the book, but very little "show". And somehow, they don't quite fit-in with the period they represent. Unconvincing.

While the story did take some interesting turns at times, the writing style was crude and very unprofessional. Editing was not clean either. The book reflected class 10th standard of English writing. That can be a big turn-off for mature English readers. And its abrupt end reminded me of Indian comic books that I used to read as a child. I'd buy a comic book from those hawkers in the train, only to realize that it ended with a "To be continued"! To a book reader, nothing can be more irritating than those 3 words! The author should realize that a "Trilogy" is not like comic books. A "Trilogy" consists of books with clear logical ends!

Anyway, a few ideas from The Immortals of Meluha that I did like:

  • The author's explanation for Har Har Mahadev was really cool.
  • The concept of a Vikarma - a person born with deformities or disease as a consequence of his sins in a previous birth - would probably help us to accept our handicaps/challenges gracefully.
  • A beggar also having the right to live his life with dignity.
  • All babies being delivered at a common 'Maika', and then handed over to suitably matching families for upbringing, based on their individual aptitudes.

These were some new perspectives that I quite liked. And I did enjoy the brisk pace of the story. Nevertheless, the book turned out to be another wasted potential. And that "To be continued" left me so irritated that I never bothered to get hold of the second part of the Shiva Trilogy!

Anyway, if you wish to get a copy of the second part (The Secret of the Nagas), you can order it from flipkart in India, or amazonelsewhere.

You can also pre-order the third and final part of the trilogy, which will be out on flipkart by early March this year apparently, via this link: The Oath of the Vayuputras.

My rating: 2 out of 5. The Immortals of Meluha, by Amish Tripathi, had all the potential of becoming an internationally-acclaimed Indian fast-paced action-thriller in the fantasy genre, but the poor writing, lack of research and typical Indian sales-gimmicks (of including a touch of mythology, religion or the super-natural) leaves one feeling cheated somehow.

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