Shiva Trilogy after last years release: The Immortals of Meluha does not disappoint in the slightest.
Before I tell you more about the book, I would like to commend Amish on his courage. When he first took Immortals to the publishers, not one of them was interested. As an MBA, they wanted him to churn out more Chetan Bhagat kind of @%#^$& and they did not think that a well written novel, for an intelligent audience would work in the Indian market.
Amish, took the marketing of his book upon himself using new strategies that hadn't been seen before in the Indian bookworld. Sample copies of the 1st chapter left at bookstores to be handed free to customers, a viral video on youtube, sample teaster chater downloadable for free online etc etc. The only other notable innovation I've heard in the recent past, was Anish Vyavahare who self published "Mumbai on the Footboard" and used the footpath and street light vendors of Bombay to directly sell his book, through a pirated books distributor, since bigger bookstores in India don't sell self published books unless they are by "big" names.
Finally, it was Westland who picked up the Immortals for publishing and an entire audience of readers has benefitted from it.
Secret of the Nagas takes up where Immortals of Meluha left off. Brahaspati's death has left an immense sadness within Shiva who considered him as a brother. With Shiva/Neelkanth at the forefront, the Suryavanshi's of Meluha have beaten the Chandavanshis in a war and hope to bring order and justice to Swadweep. While struggling to comprehend if the Chandravanshis are really as "evil" as the Suryavanshis make them otu to be, Shiva decided to visit the Lord Ram temple at Ayodhya. When he comes out, he sees Sati waiting for him and an assassin lurking behind a tree who runs off when spotted.
The assassin is much faster and stronger than what seems normal for his size and when trying to escape from Shiva and Sati, he steals a horse but throws a bag of Branga gold at the person from whom he steals the horse. From here the strangeness and contradictions in the behavior of the Nagas continues to confound Shiva almost through this book.
With Sati, Bhagirath - The Chandravanshi Emperors son, Anandmayi - the Chandravanshi Emperors daughter, Parvateshwar - General of the Suryavanshis, Veerabhadra - his childhood friend and companion, Ayurvati - The Suryavanshi doctor, Nandi and some other soldiers and companions, Shiva undertakes a journey to Kashi.
A lot of revelations come to light along the way and it would be difficult for me to say anymore about the storyline without giving away key elements of the plot. So in order to avoid any more spoilers for those who haven't read the book yet (you SHOULD read this one), I'll fast forward to the end, where Shiva enters the Naga kingdom with a joint army of the Suryavanshis and the Chandravanshis and is faced with the Secret of the Nagas.
Secret of the Nagas is as brilliantly written as the Immortals of Meluha. The reader would already be used to the language by now, so it ceases to be a hindrance in the enjoyment of the book and the story. The story is extremely fast paced and is a complete page turner. I read it at one sitting, no breaks.
The characters are well evolved. There is humor, action, romance, machinations, plots and sub plots. While some sub plots are brought to their logical conclusion within this book, I expect the rest of them will be concluded in the "Oath of the Vayuputras" when it comes out next year.
Amish has an extremely engaging style of writing and the clarity of his thought comes through inspite, of parallel story lines.
I must mention here, that you do not need indepth knowledge on Indian mythology to enjoy the series. Even if you don't even know who Shiva is, you can still enjoy the story. But if you do have indepth knowledge of the mythology surrounding Shiva, you will marvel at the way that various myths come together in this tale.
My biggest problem with the Secret of the Nagas is that everything that I have read after that has seemed extremely slow, even though they have been good books.
This is definitely a must read and like I said when reviewing The Immortals of Meluha: "Should you read this book? Definitely. But if you hate cliff hangers (which is how this part ends) then you may be better off waiting for all the books to be released before starting on this." Part 3 : Oath of the Vayuputras is sue for release sometime next year.
Rating : 4.8/5 (-0.2 for making us wait a year between books)
Disclaimer to Chetan Bhagat fans - I think, "5 Point Someone" was decent, but "One night at a call center" put me off Bhagat completely. Still trying to get myself to read "2 states" which I'm told I will like, but my bedside reading pile is spilling onto the floor. Perhaps someday.