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Friday, January 18, 2013

The Immortals Of Meluha by Amish Tripathi (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website 
Order the Book HERE 
Read Chapter One HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Amish Tripathi is a 38 year old, IIM-Calcutta educated boring banker turned happy author. The success of his debut book, The Immortals of Meluha (Book one of the Shiva Trilogy), encouraged him to give up a fourteen-year-old career in financial services to focus on writing. He is passionate about history, mythology and philosophy. He believes that there is beauty and meaning in all world cultures & religions. Amish currently lives in Mumbai (India), with his family.

OFFICIAL BLURB: 1900 BC: the once-proud Suryavanshi rulers of the Meluha Empire are in dire peril. The empire’s primary river, the Saraswathi, is slowly drying up. There are devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis – and to make matters worse, the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracised race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills.

The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient prophecy: when evil reaches epic proportions and all seems lost, a hero will emerge . . .

FORMAT/INFO: The Immortals of Meluha is 439 pages long, divided into twenty-six chapters with a Glossary of the Sankrit/Hindi terminology. Narration is in the third-person, via Shiva, Krittika, Daksha, Kanakhala, Nandi, Brahaspati, Sati and a few others. This is the first volume of the Shiva trilogy and the second volume titled The Secret Of The Nagas will be released later this year.

January 3, 2013 marked the paperback and e-book publication of The Immortals Of Meluha via JoFletcher Books and it was previously self-published by the author in 2010 and was then picked up by Westland books and given a tradition release (see cover below) on April 1, 2011. 

ANALYSIS: There’s quite a backstory to The Immortals Of Meluha. It was a book that was rejected by almost every publisher that the author had approached. Disappointed but not defeated the author went on to self-publish it and with a strong online presence managed to sell enough copies to become an Indian bestseller. He was of course then taken on by a traditional publisher and became a reputed bestseller all across the Indian subcontinent while being translated into many languages as well. 

The story focuses on Shiva, a twenty-one year old warrior who is living with his tribesmen in what is currently Tibet. He comes across a group of Meluhans (Meluha is what is now Western India & Pakistan) who are searching for something or someone. Shiva’s tribe is called the Gunas and another tribe called the Pakratis is hunting them. Shiva detests the needless violence and decides to follow the Meluhan party back to their land. Things seem troublesome in Meluha wherein the Suryavanshi kings (Descendants of the Sun) are the rulers and the people live by Suryavanshi standards. They are facing friction from their eastern neighbors, the land of Swadeep ruled by Chandravanshis (Descendants of the moon) as both sides are clueless in regards to the drying up of the Saraswati River and hence blame each other for their differences.

There’s Nandi who yearns to be the right hand to the prophesied “Neelkanth”, Sati is the Suryavanshi princess who is rather held down by an archaic law and might find release if she can find the true path. Then there’s Brahaspati who provides Shiva with some mental acuity and comic relief as he tries to help the “Neelkanth” with his role. Thrust into this maelstrom of people and events, is Shiva who while being a foreigner is still caught up in the throes of an ancient prophecy whilst not believing it personally? Thus begins the first chronicle of the Shiva trilogy.

I was able to read this book when it was released in India and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot for a variety of reasons. The mythological aspect of the story is highlighted in a big way; the author has utilized a lot of aspects of mythos associated with Lord Shiva and had inserted them intelligently in the story. As a person who’s decently versed in Indian mythology, I was certainly blown away by the author’s expertise in utilizing small mythological kernels and factoids and planning the story around their like. Secondly the story is pretty linear and very fast paced, from the start the reader is introduced to an ancient world however the plot twists and the pace will have the readers racing along smoothly. For many readers the terminology and settings of the story might be very different that what they have come to expect within epic fantasy however the glossary provided will help tremendously in their understanding of the plot and terms. Characterization is very relatable however the characters seem a bit two-dimensional. This might also be due to the fact that this was a debut novel and written a few years ago.

There’s also the epic storyline and the author does his best to lay out the details of the conflict brewing as well sow some seeds of confusion to misdirect the main characters as well as the readers. I would recommend the readers refer to the glossary whilst reading the story as that way they can get more out of the story and its intricacies. I was hooked onto the happenings from cover to cover and couldn’t read faster to reach the climax and the author ends it on a very nice cliffhanger. This was a very crucial move by the author as readers on reading the last words will want to jump into the next book immediately. The writing is definitely smooth and the prose very accessible for any reader to be immediately drawn in to the story and world presented.

One of the things that I found to be a bit jarring was the modern day slang and jargon that was utilized throughout the story. The author describes many situations and often the characters mouth dialogues and terms as if they were living in the modern era instead of four millennia ago as per the tale settings. This was a point, which has been criticized by many readers as well as many critics and is a thoroughly valid one. This is the one major flaw of an otherwise very good debut. Many might feel that the story seems very formulaic by epic fantasy standards in spite of the Indian settings and that might something to keep in mind while reading this debut. The characters appear a bit two-dimensional and are also a bit predictable however since this is the first volume, I think we can wait to see how the individual and overall characters arc pan out in the remaining volumes.

CONCLUSION: I had hopes that this book would be a good read however the author did one better and made it a fun one. Amish Tripathi is a talented man and he proves himself to be an effective storyteller as well. This book is highly recommended for those wanting to read something different in the field of epic fantasy. Amish joins the diverse epic fantasy wave spurred on by the likes of Saladin Ahmed, Martha Wells and few others, with his take of a fantasy tale with a terrific Indian mythological bent.


Anonymous said...

Am I reading the date wrong or do you not know that the second book is already out ?

Mihir said...

@ Anon.

I know the 2nd book is already out BUT it's only available from an Indian Publisher.

It will get its international release in April/may of this year from JFB as well.

Sarah (Bookworm Blues) said...

I wouldn't have looked at this one twice if it wasn't for your review. Something about the cover art just doesn't do it for me. That being said, your review really makes me want to reserve it at the library. I enjoy "different" books in epic fantasy. So much of it is the same old same old - the European based feudal systems, women in gigantic dresses, lots of kings and chosen ones and etc. It always perks me up to see a reviewer mention that a book is "different."

Yeah, I'll be checking this one out.

Aderyn Wood said...

I agree, if it weren't for this review I wouldn't have spotted this. Looks like a good read, I've added it to my list.

The Reader said...

@ Sarah & Aderyn

I'm glad you both noticed this book, I hope you let me know how you find it. It was a huge hit back in India and so I'm curious as to how western readers find it.


Anonymous said...

this is the most bizzare effort at historical fancy I have ever seen. the book is replete with the fundamental errors due lack of research into the social and human conditions into the era which the book claims to be set it. author tries to use sanskrit or hindi words to give a bit of credence to his plot, but again he displays a severe lack of understanding of meaning of those words. For example he translates "har har mahadev" as "each one of us is mahadev"... utterly stupid !! On another occasion its almost hilarious to find the use of word "varjish-griha" for GYM. The word "varjish" is of arabic origin and is never encountered in any of pre-islamic works in indian literature. author has succeeded in writing a fancy "chandrakanta" like thing, but he falls far below the level of stalwarts like Dan Brown who support their plots with authentic research and insight. It is not a novel but a formula much like Manmohan Desai's films.

The Reader said...

Hi Anon.

The author has primarily written it as fantasy based on mythology. I don't think he said it was historical fantasy. The point about fundamental errors is sligtly valid in regards to the lingo and terminology used by the characters as I pointed in my review.

I think he set out to write a story that would be popular but not accurate as he's not writing a thesis. I don't recall the "varjish-griha" part so I'll check up on that.

Lastly I don't think anybody could count Dan Brown as a stalwart in research. He's the same as Manmohan Desai when it come to his religious thrillers. I think it depends on how much enjoyment you can derive with books such as these. I thought it was a good debut effort.


Anonymous said...

I found this quite good. What I mean is that the book can be read by children to old aged people across the globe. Nowadays teenagers are not at all interested in reading books and specially unaware of our mythology. Amish has done a good job by mingling history, mythology and punched a little bit of romance in it. I don't like comparing with Dan Brown because many information provided by him is unable for teenage children to decipher. Lastly I think a little bit research work would have helped our up-coming generation to be more knowledgable about mythology. Idea to create a book like shiva trilogy is mind-blowing.

Niyati Pandya said...

I started reading this book and must admit I was better off without it; let us please not everyone try to be an author; the book has such obvious errors; no wonder Amish Tripathi had to self publish it; fantasy, history, mythology; nothing just fits; modern day slang; use of the words like hell with you; geographic errors; please let's not be fooled; go back to banking please;

Anonymous said...

Mr.Tripathi is a good writer. I wish him good luck for his upcoming writings. But some issues I would like to arise, such as Shiva was never challenged throughout....everyone came in his way saw his blue throat and bowed in his feet...this was the fightings he took down every opponent with ease...should have been a little more dramatic if he had faced some little flares of defeat...if his strategies were countered by his opponents..also some characters were never Parshuram...and some chapters were some certain stages i felt that i was getting bored...i skipped many chapters of the third novel...and lastly these are my personal thoughts and I think Mr.Tripathi can do much better...I liked the first novel very much..however was disappointed with the last two...

Unknown said...

buyers of this book are the 90's kids who have less knowledge of Indian mythology. They just see the fascinating cover with shiva and his trident printed on it and just buy it just like a superhero comics...

Anonymous said...

This book would be a dud had the character been someone other than Lord Shiva, its the mythology angle that saves the book. Certainly not a value for money. Wonder how it became a bestseller.

~~meena@sanju~~ said...

i think amish has done a wonderful job... n fr all those who think it has geographical errors ,wrng info, n othr words n stuf.... its a fictional book... u can use any kinda words n false info in it...its not a big deal...its a great book. amish u rock !!! n btw..thnx fr da review.

Unknown said...

can someone plzz answer my questions :-
1) does the depiction of Shiva in the book conform to the old age mythologica belief about him?discuss in 200 wrds
2) one of the criticism leveled by the book is the jarring use of the modern day slang and jargon in a religious and mythological context. do you agree? express ur views in 150 wrds

The Reader said...

Hi Sarah,

To answer your questions:

1)The description hold partially as the author reveals him to be a Tibetan. There's no such mention in any of the text but nothing to disprove it either. Bharatvarsh can be considered to be what now constitutes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Parts of Afghanistan and Tibet. So there's certainly the possibility of Shiva being from there.

2)The modern slang and terminolgy used are not used in a religious context. They are simply mouthed by the characters and don't make sense entirely as science hasn't advanced to that degree in the world showcased in the books. Its a thing that can either "bother you highly", "bother a little bit" or "not bother at all" as it's entirely a subjective point.

Hope that answers your queries.


Unknown said...

thank mihir for ur help..
but i need an elaborated answer for both the qustions

Vijay Rampal said...

This appears to be the product of an overread, ovrheated mind that has read too many western thrillers and has little to offer. Such is the modern day danger from persons who are called highly educated(in some honorable university and irrespective of the course) and come to believe that they are the pathpavers for answering age old philosophical questions as well.It is evident from the way he has answered the so called question of questions.A bestseller at the cost of pulling down your gods to the level of fumbling average human beings!As he is financial guy, I am sure he wouldn't see the evil in finance and banking.

Nikhil Surve said...

is this story real?? plz!!! i want to knw bcz m confused!!!!

The Reader said...

@ Nikhil

As far as I recall the author has mentioned that this is his re-imagination of the legend of Shiva. So in that regards, it's fiction with an Indian mythological bent.


Unknown said...

how can amish said that shiva is simple man ? if shiva is simple man then in Ramayana there is one proof that said Ram meet Mahadev when hi goes in shri laka and no one simple man can alive 3000 thousand year on the earth

ravi said...

Amish Tripathi is an absolute idiot, to write such a fantasy on one of the most revered GOD for us.
Lord Shiva's story as a human is imposssible to imagine, HE is a concept, a CREATOR, DESTROYER of the evil, and above all Supreme Father of this universe. No body can quantify him, he is above all comparisons. Amish go back to your old banking job, you are not at all fit to be an author.

Siddeswar said...

It's a wonder that this book is a best-seller. The book is a misrepresentation of facts & Indian mythology. Agreed - that this is a work of fiction. But, even fictitious work requires some research and attestation to relevant facts. This book is a clear indication of no research or adherence to facts by the author, whose style of writing and story-telling is amateurish at it's best. I could find no skill in the writing at all. It is definitely not recommended for young people who have a lesser knowledge of our Indian mythology as it would just corrupt their minds about the true mythology.

Arun said...

Many mistakes in the book.

For example the characters are using the word "INDIA" more than once and repeating that shiva is the saviour of India. Just remember the story with detailed maps and all mentioning that the story is taking place in BC 1900. How can these characters use the name India in their conversations?

And another example,

The chief scientist named Brihaspathi is using the word "OXYGEN" when mentioning the contents of respiratory air. But OXYGEN was named by Antione Lavoisier in 1777.

Amish is just using Indian puranas for this novel. Every now and then he mention a story in purana which is being used for setting this fiction's platform. I don't find this right, hurting the feelings of Shiva devotees and then he is saying that he is a devotee of Shiva.

Anonymous said...

Parshuram character made no sense..use of morden slang, rest was amazing.Good work amish

Anonymous said...

I taught this was a great story re-written purana of lord shiv. I wasted my money on this book. The author is really stupid the story is nice without our gods but if this idoit says shiv is just a human then what rudra n shiva r different? If he says lord shiva is human then how his throat is blue naturally? Somras? What the hell? I cant imagine what if my children reads this in future without the knowledge of gods? This guy is an idoit who wanted to make money. Then what the agories r fools worshiping lord shiva/bhairava sacrificing their lifes? I taught this story was devon ke dev mahadev same like the tv series i just wasted my money buying this book. Instead i should have bought the old purana.On top of that he has planned to make movie now i wonder why some caracters rejected to act this info i got from youtube.

Unknown said...

hi.. this book is realy too good.. (y) please tell wich language you used for ur immortals of meluha cover page background.. plz rply

Anonymous said...

The books like these are only useful to conceal and distort the truth. Writers should avoid using such a wild, incorrect and foolish imagination especially in godly and divine subjects.
The truth about Lord Siva can be very well find in siva puranam and skanda puranam.
‘Puranam’ is the basement stone and these types of books are only good for spreading lies.

Anonymous said...

People; please learn to read fiction as fiction - do not try to link it with the facts and if you feel that you have invested on a wrong book; there is something called as the epilogue and sample chapters available - you need to go through that and then invest.

Anonymous said...

Its one of its made the mythology more awesome

Neha Agarwal said...

The novel itself is very absorbing and nicely plotted. I finished it with expectation of same quality in next 2 parts of the trilogy. Bengali translation is upto the mark.

Nishnat said...

the book is good.

yes, it may not be 100% historically correct.the author has mixed mythology with history. however, it is enjoyable. he has used hindi words in the text, because, neither he nor us, is aware of the language used in those days. its not a mistake. the word india is used again and again, so that the modern reader does not get confused.similarly, the citizens of meluha (indus valley) were of dravidian/ elamite stock,but they are shown worshipping aryan Gods. we must not judge it historically. this is a fantasy + mythology+ adventure story+ author's theory. overall, a good story.

Manoj said...

it is a great book

Jiiva said...

Thats an awesome book..Bt thats true it may not be 100% historically true

Santosh Narva said...

I Haven't read the book and I WILL NOT read it .
SHIVA is NOT a Marvel comics character like a batman or Superman but GOD
I don't think the writer whoever he / she has got any fucking right to add fiction to GOD
This is the trend with Indian television also in serials like
SANKAT MOCHAN MAHABALI HANUMAN and SIYA KE RAM etc .. which adds MASALA to the existing divine literature to ' match ' so-called television standards .
And I always wonder how the hell those entertainment programs which make GOD a PROTOTYPE to be moulded as the so-called ' creative time ' wishes , are so successful ??!!

Unknown said...

It is a fictitious mythological book

Rohit Narayan said...

Mythological fantasy is a boom! And I am still analyzing how. I recently read a review by Vishnu Chevli that sucked me into an entirely different realm. I must say Indian fantasy has began to make its own mark in the world of literature!

Live football scores said...

This is very fantastic, it's one of my favorites. Thanks


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