Tag Archive | Mythology

The Palace of Illusions


Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective! What an absolutely brilliant idea! I think the whole plot in itself deserves 5/5. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has a mind of her own!

This has been my most favorite book for 5 years now and I just realized I havent blogged about it! Since I read a long time back my memory is a little hazy to do a full review but I can assure you this book is gripping! I ended up finishing the book in 1.5days. This is the first book that got me interested into alternative history and then came along the Shiva Triology (You can find the reviews for the first two books here: Shiva-1 and Shiva-2).

What I liked the most about it is how some hero’s are portrayed while some other characters whom we don’t give enough importance to while listening to the normal Mahabharata turn out to be hero’s for Draupadi. Her birth in fire to being married to Pandavas (the 5 brothers) to her strategic duels with Kunti(her mother-in-law), her attraction to someone else (often portrayed as the villian) – this truely is Draupadi’s tale – I cant begin to emphasize enough – a MUST read! 🙂

Overall Review : 5/5 (no brainer here =] )

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The Secrets of the Nagas



Today, He is a God.

4000 years ago, He was just a man.

The hunt is on. The sinister Naga warrior has killed his friend Brahaspati and now stalks his wife Sati. Shiva, the Tibetan immigrant who is the prophesied destroyer of evil, will not rest till he finds his demonic adversary. His vengeance and the path to evil will lead him to the door of the Nagas, the serpent people. Of that he is certain.

The evidence of the malevolent rise of evil is everywhere. A kingdom is dying as it is held to ransom for a miracle drug. A crown prince is murdered. The Vasudevs Shivas philosopher guides betray his unquestioning faith as they take the aid of the dark side. Even the perfect empire, Meluha is riddled with a terrible secret in Maika, the city of births. Unknown to Shiva, a master puppeteer is playing a grand game.

In a journey that will take him across the length and breadth of ancient India, Shiva searches for the truth in a land of deadly mysteries only to find that nothing is what it seems.

Fierce battles will be fought. Surprising alliances will be forged. Unbelievable secrets will be revealed in this second book of the Shiva Trilogy, the sequel to the #1 national bestseller, The Immortals of Meluha

This is the second book of the Shiva Trilogy by Amish. Normally when the first book is fantastic, the sequel barely ever lives upto it. This book was a welcome change. This is an action packed book with a lot of of food for thought. An extremely well thought out book with some very strong messages which have been weaved intricately with Indian mythology and lots of imagination. This reflects a lot about the author and his idea of eutopia.

One of the main ideas in the book revolves around the question -‘What is Evil?’. This is closely related to the phrase – ‘Har Har Mahadev’ which means there is God in everyone which was a phrase used by Shiva’s army while attacking the Chandravanshi’s. The other main idea involved is that of a caste system by skill instead of by birth. This is where Maika, the birth city comes in. The author truly believes that each person should be assigned a caste (which equates to role in the Indian caste system) depending on the skill-set the child possess not the household he/she is born in. To be true to this thought, the author does not have his last name on the cover of the book as his surname Tripathi is associated with the Brahmin caste.

This book focuses on Shiva’s quest to find the murderer of his dear brother-like friend Brahaspati, the chief scientist of Mount Mandar. Shiva is also determined to find an unknown skilled assassin who attacked Sati thrice in the past. Both of these motives lead Shiva to the Nagas. Despite the above facts the question is – are the Nagas evil?

In the process of getting to the Naga kingdom, Shiva discovers some shameful secrets about Maika, the city of births. Some of these secrets affect his near and dear ones. Shiva along with the Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi soldiers proceed to the Branga territory as the Brangas are said to have close ties with the Nagas.

Shiva’s entourage consists of both the Suryavanshi’s and the Chandravanshi’s. Shiva leaves Sati behind with a heavy heart as his son Kartik is too young for the journey. During their journey to the Branga territory, there is another shackle that is broken for the Suryavanshi General Partvateshwar.

Parvateshwar had vowed to be a celibate as a family decision to protest against the wavering Maika policy for the various castes to respect his grandfather’s word. He had been true to his vow for 120 years. Anandamayi the Chandravanshi princess, fell in love with Partvateshwar and tries her best to rope him in. The character of Anandamayi is that of an bollywood ‘chamia’ who would do anything to get her man. She is saucy, tangy and everything more!

Meanwhile Sati discovers another tradition which like the Vikarma law is unfair. She sees her dear ones suffering because of that and makes a brave, over-the-top attempt to stand against it. As you may have guessed, I am not quite impressed with the role Sati plays in this book. There is nothing exciting or unexpected about her. How can a woman leave her infant to fight against the lions??!! Like I said earlier, a little over-the-top.

Aside the role of Sati and some rather loose language, a fantastic read!

Overall Verdict: 5/5

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. This once proud empire and its Suryavanshi rulers face severe perils as its primary river, the revered Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis. To make matters worse, the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracised and sinister race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills. 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? And does he want to be that hero at all? Drawn suddenly to his destiny, by duty as well as by love, will Shiva lead the Suryavanshi vengeance and destroy evil?

This is the first book in the Shiva trilogy which was a national best-seller. This book portrays the vivid imagination of the first time author Amish. In one line this book sets the myth of Shiva in today’s world which makes the readers more receptive and open to it. It is key to note that this book is classified as the ‘Alternative History/Fiction’ genre so the original myth has been twisted and turned to make the story more gripping and dramatic.

Shiva is the leader of the Guna tribe of Tibet which occupies the area near the Mansarovar lake at the foot of Mount Kailash. The ways of being of this tribe are rather barbaric and their constant challenge is to fight the aggresive Pakrati tribe. Shiva is convinced by members of the Suryavanshi tribe to immigrate to the other side of the hills – to India.

After Shiva immigrates to India (or Meluha), he consumes the Somras – a medicinal drink created by the Meluhan’s which transforms his throat colour to blue. This causes a certain excitement and anxiety among the Meluhans. Shiva seems puzzled at the strong devotion of the Meluhan folks. He later discovers that according to the Indian legends – an immigrant with a blue throat or a neelkanth would be the destroyer of all evil.

Shiva is invited to the city of Meluha and meets the emperor. He is astonished by how well planned the cities were. They were a sheer engineering marvel. Once he is at Meluha he falls in love with princess Sati who is a great dancer and a fierce warrior. Sati is also subject to some unfair traditions of the society called the Vikarma laws. Shiva removes the Vikarma law which was an unfair tradition being followed among the Meluhan’s. He also discovers that the reason for the rather long lives of the Meluhan’s is their secret medicinal drink – the Somras which is manufactured at a secret facility at Mount Mandar. During his stay and travel Shiva makes many friends. Some key characters like: Nandi – the Meluhan chief who convinced Shiva and the Guna’s to migrate, Brahaspati – the chief scientist at Mount Mandar, etc.

Throughout the book there are some hooded creatures (the Naga’s) who try to attack and abduct princess Sati. They are believed to be notorious and their fighting skills are feared. Not much is revealed about them in this book but their presence makes the book even more gripping.

The story about the union of Shiva and Sati as per the book is not in-line with the original myth. Shiva is pictured as an ordinary human being with his desires, flaws and regrets. His flaws to smoke weed, desire to obtain Sati, regret from a childhood incident where he did not perform his duty. This makes the story more acceptable to the mordern logical Indian who cannot accept the existence of a ‘perfect’ soul. To conclude, this book is an absolute page turner and a must read!

Overall Verdict: 4.5/5
PS: I may be biased in my overall rating as I love Indian Mythology!

 

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