The story of a man, whom the world turned into a God.
What if Lord Shiva, the God of destruction and one of the most revered Gods in India, is not in fact a God? Amish has very beautifully introduced this novel and interesting thought in the first book. The story seems so genuine that the reader would actually stop and think if this could actually be true. A story set in the ancient India, many characters in the Indian mythology find a permanent place in the story line. Lord Shiva, his graceful and brave wife, Sati, their sons, Ganesh (God with a human body and an elephant's head) and Karthik. At every juncture where there is a chance for even a slight tinge of skepticism in the readers' minds, the author has tried to come up with rational explanations. For example, Lord Ganesh's existence, a living man with an elephant head, would in itself inject skepticism in the readers but Amish has even come up with a rationale behind his existence. In fact, Amish has done a wonderful job of weaving the Indian mythology into a very convincing Indian historic garment.
Amish's narrative style is captivating and the books are like suspense thrillers. The first book ended with a suspense which made me impatient for the second book. The second one was equally imaginative and very gracefully set the context for the third book. The third book, though I felt was slightly dragging in the beginning (this could also be an indication of my impatience to get to the end of it), it ended with a bang. And despite so many deviations and sub-stories, the story line is consistent and thrilling.
This trilogy, The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras, form one of the most captivating, yet humbling stories I have read in the recent times. Each of these books told a different story, with the same consistent story line running in the background. The 3 books are so inter related that reading the next book gave you more clarity on the many things left untold in the previous book. The story happens all across the central and north India and extends even to Iran and Tibet. It gives a realistic, yet awe-inspiring image of the civilizations and the life that existed long back in the northern plains of India and the regions around it.
One of the main topics that Amish touches upon is the concept of the good and the evil. The attempt to understand the ceaseless battle between the good and the evil leads Shiva to the underlying question of what exactly is evil. Amish has tried to bring in a totally new perspective here as well. While most have this notion that Good is always good and Evil is always evil, Amish, through these book, try to analyze the question, 'Can good turn into evil at any point of time?' He has very convincingly gotten to the bottom of it to explain a situation where good can actually turn into evil. It's amazing how the story unfolds in this context and how the good of one period can be the evil in another period in time.
As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma is the creator, Lord Ram is the preserver and Lord Shiva, the destroyer. Amish has an interesting take on this. He tries to point out that when a good turns into evil, the approaches followed by Lord Ram and Lord Shiva to remove evil from the society are totally different, even though their intentions are the same. Ram, will replace evil with something else, whereas Shiva completely destroys evil without giving people a replacement. Which is why, in the book, the Lord Ram initially sets up a very prosperous country, with rules and regulations clearly laid out, sort of an Utopian world. Some nations like the Meluha started following it blindly, where as some like the Swadeep started following a slightly different version grounded on a slightly different ideology, while still respecting Lord Ram and his principles. The Somras, which is one of the goods that Ram prescribed to his subjects. The new system proposed by Ram was believed to be so fool-proof that no one could suspect the good slowly turning into evil. And once it shows signs of turning into an imminent danger, it is the Shiva's job to destroy it completely. The entire kingdom is destroyed under the wrath of Shiva's anger, saving only the knowledge for any possible future use. The transition of the Somras from good to evil is indeed a very interesting story in itself. The rationale makes sense and is convincing enough for people to give it an after-thought.
The part that I loved the most in the story is where Shiva's wife dies an honorable, yet gruesome death at the hands of the enemies. The brave warrior fought alone and honorably till her last breath. Those were the moments that made me realize how different some people really are. It's a very humbling experience seeing someone fight so bravely even when they are looking right into the eyes of death. The courage that the women displays is tremendous and at one point, I even thought if it's humanly possible to carry on the way she did. Probably, that's why people worship her as a deity.
Over all, it was a good experience reading the trilogy. The reason why I did not review the books separately is because the story line as a whole gives you the complete picture. A must read for all Indians who know the Hindu mythology, but others can also read it for the sheer joy of reading a good book.