Friday, 30 September 2011

Kim's Review : Ramses - The Lady of Abu Simbel

Halfway through reading Ramses: The Son of the Light, I placed an order for the next 4 books in Christian Jacq's Ramses series. Ramses : The Lady of Abu Simbel is the Fourth book in this series.

Having defeated the Hittites at Kadesh, Ramses had hoped for the peace treaty to last. But the Hittites struck quickly stirring up revolt again amongst Egypts allies and the bedouin

Ofir sends his accomplice and Pharoahs sister Dolora back to the palace where she inviegles her way into Nefertari's good books and into Iset's service. Where she slowly tries to poison Iset against Nefertari, hoping to break the bond between the Royal couple who keep Ma'at in balance. Shanaar who escaped when being transported from a Memphis prison to an oasis labour outpost, rejoins Ofir and they hide out at the deserted capital of Akhenaten.

Moses has had an encounter with Yahweh in the form of a burning bush in the desert and believes that he is called to lead all the Hebrews out of Egypt to a promised land. So, this book sees Moses finally returning to Pi-Ramses from his flight into the desert with a wife Zipporah and their infant son.

Ofir heads the Hittite spy network in Egypt and uses his powers of persuasion and black magic to convince the bedouin that they have the same objectives and the Hebrews through Moses, that they all believe in monotheism

Ramses sets out to rescue Asha who is now a Hittite captive in Amurru. But the Hittites retreated from Egyptian land as swiftly as the Egyptian army approached. And again the lack of knowledge of Hittite terrain and the lack of blood thirstiness of the Egyptians convinces Ramses to return rather than pursue his enemy.

On return to Pi-Ramses, Moses meets with Ramses and demands that all Hebrews be allowed to leave Egypt. Ramses argument is 2 fold. 1. The Hebrews aren't slaves, they have assimilated into Egyptian society, they are free to practice their religious beliefs, why should they leave? 2. the Hebrews are also his subjects and with the Hittites threat around Egypt's borders, how can he allow them to leave with a clean conscience knowing that they could meet with complete annihilation?

Muwattallis dies and in the power struggle between his son Uri-Teshup and brother Hattusilis, Ahsha sides with the less blood thirsty Hattusilis and double crosses Uri Teshup while pretending to be his ally. However, in a stroke of genius, just before Uri-Teshup is about to be killed, Ahsha rescues him and sends him to Pi-Ramses to safety where he reveals all the details of the Hittite army to the Egyptians. But this angers Hattusilis who threatens war unless Uri-Teshup is returned to face trial in Hatti.

Kha - Ramses first born from Iset enters the priesthood a logical progression from his early love for learning and the mysteries. He is appointed the High Priest of Ptah and is hence one of the notables before whom Moses seeks to appear to plead his case.

Then follow the plagues which Moses claims to be sent by Yahweh to punish the Egyptians for their stubborness, but Jacq explains away each of them as natural phenomena and this could be the crux why, this series has not been taken up by Hollywood to be turned into a movie.

Shanaar, Ofir and Dolora keep trying to harm the royal couple and Kha. Finally they manage to infiltrate Kha's defenses and by black magic, cause him great sickness, which takes all of Nefertari's life force to keep him alive until the dark magic causing it is destroyed. This they had hoped would be the 10th plague. - death to the first born males.

However Ofir and Dolora are caught and sentenced. Shanaar meest his death at the hands of Nubian tribal chiefs whom he had incited against Ramses. Ramses and Hattusilis sign the historic Peace treaty between the Hittites and the Egyptians, due to the unwavering efforts and diplomatic tatcics of their wives and Ahsha.

Inspite of all this good news around, Ramses faces three crushing blows. the death of his mother Tuya and faithful companion dog - wideawake, to old age and Nefertari succumbs to the loss of her life force too.

Thus The Lady of Abu Simbel ends on an extremely somber note.

Important facts and introduction to characters are all repeated, so you can read The Lady of Abu Simbel, even if you havent yet read the Son of the Light or Temple of a Million Years or the Battle of Kadesh, but this volume is difficult to appreciate as a standalone. It does tell a story, but its the middle of a story, neither here nor there. Read this as a standalone only if your sole interest is in Jacq's interpretation of the Hebrews struggle for independence.

Rating: 4/5

Also check out my review of:
Ramses - The Son of the Light
Ramses - The Temple of a Million Years
Ramses - The Battle of Kadesh


Kim's Review : Ramses - The Battle of Kadesh

Halfway through reading The Son of the Light, I placed an order for the next 4 books in Christian Jacq's Ramses series. Ramses: The Battle of Kadesh is the Third book in this series.

This book begins with the complete annihilation of "The Abode of the Lion" - an Egyptian border village, by the Hittites who start pushing further inland, convince previous Egyptian allies Lebanon & Palestine to back them instead and harass the other Egyptian allies in Damascus & Phoenecia. The general peace loving Egyptian populace realises the inevitability of war with their neighbours and gear up their war machinery under the keen eye and confidence building measures of Ramses II.

Shaanar continues to scheme against Ramses with the help of Raia- a Syrian merchant of fine vases n Egypt, who is actually a spy for the Hittites, Ofir - a Libyan black magician and Ahsha the diplomat in charge of assessing the threats to Egypt. Shaanar tries to assist the Hittites under Muwatallis, hoping he can rule Egypt after Ramses defeat.

In a convoluted plot, Serramanna - Ramses personal chief bodyguard is accused of conspiracy and thrown into prison the eve before Ramses and the Egyptian army set off to fight the Hittites. It is left to Tuya, Nefertari & Ahmeni to govern in his absence. Ramses slowly retakes all the Egyptian protectorates that had rebelled and then, returns to Pi-Ramses instead of marching towards Kadesh on the advice of Ahsha.

Meanwhile in the Hittite capital of Hattusa, the cunning but aging Emperor Muwatallis has to maintain and control the power struggle between his son Uri-Teshup also Commander-in-chief & his own brother Hattusilis priest of the Sun Goddess, married to Putuhepa the influential daughter of the high priest. Uri Teshup controls the army and wants war while Hattusilis has the support of the priests and merchants and is more inclined towards peace.

On his return, having faced the possibility of his death, Nefertari who cannot have anymore children urges Ramses to have more children with his secondary wife Iset and to marry more women, so that there may be more possibilities for future pharoahs. Ramses, does have another son with Iset, but declines further marriages and decrees that all children who are educated in the palace school will be elevated to "Royal Son" and "Royal Daughter" and he would make a choice for his succession from amongst them.

Lita is found dead in the house owned by Shaanar and Ramses finally has proof to sentence his brother, but Shaanar escapes when being transported to a prison facility.

Ahsha sets off undercover to Hattusa to see for himself the state of preparedness and gauge how soon the Hittites will wage war against Egypt, but unfortunately is recognised by Raia (who has been identified as a spy and flees Egypt) and captured just before leaving with important information for Ramses. He only manages to send him a brief message : Kadesh. Quickly. Danger.

 At Kadesh, Ramses confronts the combined army of the Hittites with the prines of Syria, Mitanni, Aleppo, Ugarit, Karkemish, Arzawa and other smaller principalities. Faced with a 40,000 strong army, the Egyptian army which had hardly seen any battles until then scatterred without even fighting. Accompanied only by his 2 charriot drawing horses and Invincible his lion, Ramses succeeded in sending the Hittite allied army back into the Kadesh fortress. But the fortress itself seemed impenetratable.

However Emperor Muwatallis, agrees to a peace agreement in which Ahsha is freed and the borders are fixed at Kadesh. Ramses retrned triumphant to Egypt, but the Hittites return only thirsting to avenge their defeat.

The book ends with Ahsha being captured again by Hattusilis when on a routine visit to the Egyptian outposts, in a lightning counter attack

Another engrossing read by Christian Jacq. The book keeps you hooked throughout. This story is one of the most popular one from the Pharaonic history of Egypt and it is interesting to read Jacq's interpretation of the available information.

Important facts and introduction to characters are all repeated, so you can read The Battle of Kadesh, even if you havent yet read the Son of the Light or Temple of a Million Years and are only interested in this most famous episode of Ramses II life..

Rating: 4.5/5

Also check out my review of:
Ramses - The Son of the Light
Ramses - The Temple of a Million Years


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Kim's Review: Adrift - A Junket Junkie in Europe

Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu is a former food and travel columnist with HT and other National dailies, travel and airline magazines. Adrift: A Junket Junkie in Europe is her first book and what a book! Adrift combines her passions of food and travel with her love for history, art and architecture and makes for an extremely interesting read.

Her writing style draws the reader in almost immediately, as Sidhu chats with you the way a friend would. The book encompasses a 3 month Indian Summer holiday in Europe that is : unplanned, uncharted and unaccompanied.

Sidhu uses her insomnia on the Delhi-London flight to formulate a 9 point Personal Travel Manifesto. Just reading her Manifesto, has already inspired Brajesh to formalise our own travel manifesto.

A solo female traveller on a budget, she makes full use of her Punjabi family and friends network across Europe to keep travel costs low.

Sidhu enters Europe via London courtesy a complimentary unused ticket from a sibling, but flies off to Germany at the first possible opportunity to stay with her Aunt Anne who agrees to host her as long as she wants, provided she keeps dishing out Indian food for her friends and family at regular intervals.

In Germany, the reader is introduced to hauptmarkt, lebkuchen, bratwurst, Goa (a local Indian themed open air/camp fire party location) and mitfahrzentrale (German car pool innovation for cross country travel). The mitfahrzentrale then becomes Sidhu's primary mode for traversing Europe on a budget. This enables her to travel with handsome Swedish students, a Dutch businesswoman, and Hungarian girls amongst others.

Sojourns in Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria and France follow, before she returns to London prior to her return to India.

Puneet gives the reader a bit of a historical background to each location, before describing her own adventures, which provide a brief glimpse into the life of the locals (or Punjabis/Delhites turned locals).

Her descriptions of most of the local specialties - moose/elk/reindeer meat, frikadelle and Kottbullar in Sweden, croissants and waffles in Denmark, pannenkoeken in Netherlands, weisswurst & obatzda in Munich, palinka, ghoulash, porkolts, fisherman's soup & makos toltelek in Hungary, krapfen, weiner schnitzel, apfelstrudel, sachertorte & liptaur in Austria, would entice any foodie to jump on the next flight, to savour the dishes for himself/herself.

Adrift includes little nuggets of information that would be beneficial to any traveler to Europe, but there is enough detail to excite even an armchair traveler (like the railway train traversing the Fehrman Belt Strait from Denmark to Germany, by loading itself onto a ferry and facts like Tulips are originally native to Turkey rather than Holland) and its all written in a light, easy to read, make you smile style, like when Puneet describes how "the art enthusiast in me, gradually melted away a la Dali's pocket watches".

There are a few times when the reader may wish that a laptop was nearby, to access or wikipedia. But you can still enjoy this book without rushing for clarifications.

The book incorporates a few personal photographs too, but for some reason, they gave me a very 70's/80's feel. I'm not sure if it was the slight sepia tint to the pictures and whether it is intentional. However its a handy reference to glimpse a visual representation of the authors descriptions.

In Chapter 5, Puneet describes the contributing factors of her early life which urge her to travel relentlessly and why travel is the one and only escape route when she wants to get away from it all. I can identify with quite a few of those factors, but travel for me is not an escape, its a well earned reward.

As a sometimes solo female traveler (much more frequently, before I was married) on leisure and business, I can appreciate the challenges and risks that Puneet takes, but its also true that its easier to be a single female traveling  in Europe and North America than it is in India. Staying with family and friends when traveling has its pros and also its cons. Its a great way to save on costs if you have time on your side, but for short trips, its easier to stay at a reasonably priced hotel and have flexibility in your time and schedule.

Adrift is a lovely light read for anyone who would like to spend time exploring Europe, but its especially inspiring to solo female travelers to just go ahead and book that ticket.

Rating: 3.5/5

Adrift - A Junket Junkie in Europe is available at flipkart and amazon

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Kim's Review: Sidetracked - An Inspector Wallander Mystery

When I had been to a Screening of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" in Delhi last year. A lady with the Swedish Embassy whom I had a conversation with told me "If you loved Steig Larsson, you will ADORE Henning Mankell and Kurt Wallander"

Having met Henning Mankell earlier this year at JLF and listening to him speak. I knew I just HAD to start reading him. The BBC series "Wallander" just had me further intrigued. But it also made me lazy - If I could watch a well made tv series, should I spend more time on reading the books? Especially when my pile of "to read" books is toppling over itself?

I'm really glad for myself, that I answered that question with a "Yes"! I'd admired Mankel's plots through the televised series, but there is so much more than just a plot and a story in his books. The descriptions of the way of life, procedures etc give the reader an insight into life in Sweden. Since I read in English, I'm not sure if anything is being lost in translation, but even if it is, the books are still wonderful reads.

However, the plots are definitely not a reflection on life in Sweden. Sweden has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, but the highest number of crime fiction writers in the world.

The plot begins with an unidentified girl committing suicide by setting herself on fire in a field, a former minister of justice is butchered and the body count just keeps piling up like a Tarantino movie and Inspector Kurt Wallander is forced to struggle to keep his professional life from destructing his personal life.

Rating : 3.8/5

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Kim's Review : Ramses - The Temple of a Million Years

Halfway through reading The Son of the Light, I placed an order for the next 4 books in Christian Jacq's Ramses series. The Temple of a Million Years is the Second book in this series.

The Son of the Light ended with the death of Seti, The Temple of a Million Years begins with the period of mourning following Seti's death and Ramses ascent to the throne at age 23 despite the efforts of his brother Shaanar to take control himself.

With the support of his mother Queen Tuya (Seti's wife) and his Great Royal Wife - Nefertari, Ramses begins his reign under many auspicious signs. He is protected by his lion "Invincible", his dog "Wide Awake", a Sardinian Mercenary turned personal bodyguard - Serramanna and the magic of his wife and mother.

His 4 childhood friends Ahmeni, Ahsha, Moses and Setau have all taken up positions that assist Ramses in his kingly duties. However Shaanar tries to use Menelaus who was forced to stop in Egypt on his triumphant return from Troy due to ship trouble.

Menelaus is forced to stay on in Egypt against his will, as Egyptian law allows women the freedom of will and movement and Helen uses this opportunity to stay away from Menelaus and his cruelty and grow closer to Nefertari and Tuya. However to save Ramses from Menelaus treachery, she agrees to leave with him and his army and commits suicide once out of Egyptian waters. The poet Homer stays behind though and becomes a close friend of Ramses who suspects that the poet has a gift for foretelling the future through his poetry.

The rest of the book dwells on how Ramses slowly starts asserting himself as Pharoah, shaking up the administration, all for the greater good and to uphold the divine principles of Ma'at. He also embarks on a massive construction spree in Luxor and of a new capital - Pi-Ramses under the command of his friend Moses.

Shaanar continues to spin his schemes and comes in contact with a Libyan shaaman - Ofir who claims to believe in the one true God of Akhenaton and claims that his companion Lita is a descendant of Akhenaton, and hence,  the rightful heir to the throne of Egypt.

Ofir also tries to befriend Moses, whom he knows believes in monotheism and bring him around to his way of thinking. However, before he can accomlish this, Moses runs away into the desert after accidentally killing Sary - Ramses brother-in-law. This book ends with the flight of Moses and the Hittite threat approaching the Egyptian border.

The Temple of a Million Years has a lot more widely known factual base than, The Son of the Light. So reading it, is like reading a historical text with reinterpreted ideas. Christian Jacq writes a fascinating tale and keeps the reader engrossed.

Important facts are all reinforced, so you can read Temple of a Million Years, even if you havent yet read the Son of the Light.

Rating: 4.75/5

Also check out my review of:
Ramses - The Son of the Light


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Kim's Review : Fish

Brajesh brought a copy of this book home since he was using it at a training program. Being a short book, I had read it in ebook format when it first came out. Since I remember it being a light read, I picked it up again, when I had a little time free.

This book and others in the Fish Philosophy series are based on the world famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle where fishmongers have taken a dull, repetitive, routine boring job and turned their work place into a fun, energetic, completely positively charged up environment for employees and customers.

This book is written as a case study where a corporate manager is tasked with converting her team from the "toxic energy dump" of the organisation to being an integral part of operations unless they want their entire department dissolved and activities outsoursed.

She then visits the Pike Place Fish Market, by chance and vitalised by their environment, she tries to replicate the process within her team.

The book is an extremely easy read and fast read 20-30 mins tops. Its also very easy to identify the common pitfalls and hurdles that we may be facing in our own teams, while at the same time dispensing simple advice that is easy to replicate in any organisation.

So go ahead
1. Choose Your Attitude
2. Play
3. Be Present
4. Make Someone's Day

Rating : 3.5/5


Friday, 9 September 2011

Kim's Review : Ramses - The Son of the Light

I had picked up this book in Cairo, before we left Egypt in January 2009, but didn't get around to reading it until last month. Once I was halfway through this book, I immediately placed an order for the next 4 books in this series and just read them all straight through.

Other than Tutankhamun, Ramses II is THE Pharoah who has captured the imagination of the world. He left his mark on practically every Pharaonic temple on a visitors itinerary in Egypt today. But he is also dogged by controversy. While every Egyptian temple displays large portraits and reliefs of his victory over the Hittites at the battle of Kadesh, the discovery of the agreement between the Egyptians and the Hitties in modern day Turkey, contradicts that premise.

Within Egypt, it is believed that Ramses' Father - Seti, was the one who fought all the hard battles, secured her borders, thus granting a period of unprecedented peace for Ramses II to rule in, which gave him the time, labour and resources to construct magnificient temples.

Christian Jacq has weaved a story encompassing the major documented highlights of Ramses life, but spun a different story out of them, contrary to a lot of popular beliefs. And that is what makes this entire series even more interesting.

The Son of Light begins with a 14 year old Ramses facing a test of courage set for him by his father Seti. His brother Shaanar is the Prince Regent and is being groomed as Seti's successor and Ramses is still studying at the Royal Academy. His 4 best friends are Ahmeni - a diligent student and scribe, Setau - a lad fascinated with snakes, their venom and their medicinal value, Ahsha - a cultured and smooth talker who dreams of becoming a diplomat and Moses - who knows he wants to do great things, but is not yet sure of his path.

Over the book Seti sets Ramses multiple tasks to test different aspects of his personality and ethics and Ramses feels that he is being groomed to be the next Pharoah, but Seti's intentions aren't quite clear until the end. Ramses faces multiple death threats but emerges stronger from each of them gathering "wide awake" a yellow dog and "Invincible" a mighty lion whom he and Setau rescue into his closest circle.

His inseperable bond with Invincible, and his mastery over a bull elephant, are exploits that are repeated across the land and the common people soon begin to believe that he is blessed by the Gods. However Shaanars smooth talking and clear focus on diplomacy and trade makes him better liked by the governing classes than the unpredictable, hot bloooded Ramses.

However by the time of his death at the end of this book, Seti makes it quite clear that it is Ramses whom he has chosen as his successor, thereby sidelining his older son Shaanar.

The tale woven by Christian Jacq is fascinating. Historical fiction is one of the most difficult genres to master. Everyone knows the ending of the story, so how an author tells the tale is of supreme importance. Can he/she bring enough of a fresh perspective to the story? Can they tell a tale that is intriguing, yet stays true to the most important facts? Can they hold the readers attention? In Jacq's case, the answer to all 3 questions is a resounding yes.

I would love to see this series made into a movie and I know it will be so much more fascinating than the Mummy or the Scorpion king. Can't imagine why no one has gotten around to it yet.

Rating: 4.75/5


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Kim's Review: Purple Hibiscus

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut novel set in Nigeria tells a simple story with a depth of details, undertones and overtones.

Purple Hibiscus is a first person account by 15 year old Kambili. Envied by her classmates and cousins for her fathers wealth and standing in the community and the church, she is thought of as snobbish, while she is actually a painfully introverted young girl.

Her father Eugene, owns a multitude of businesses and helms one of the most fearless newspapers in Nigeria where he and his editor print the news as they see it. An upstanding Catholic, he is held in high esteem for his wealth, power and religious beliefs. All of which dazzle the priests, his community and the folk of his village and blind them to the fanatical edge to his beliefs.

As the story progreses, we realise that the terror that Kambili, her brother Jaja and their mother face doesn't stem just from the perfection demanded by their father, but from the very real and frequent domestic abuse that they are all subjected to.

Brought up by Christian Missionaries, Eugene renounces his own father for holding onto his ancient beliefs, calling him a heathen and completely cutting him out of his life, only relenting to let his children visit him for a few minutes each year, after his father brings the matter to the village council.

Eugene's sister, Ifeoma is not as blinded by her brothers wealth and inspite of having a tough life as a professor and a widow with young children, she refuses to grovel for any monetary help from her brother. Instead, she tries to convince her sister-in-law to leave him for her own safety and that of the children.

There are 3 very interesting sets of beliefs and ways of life that are portrayed in Purple Hibiscus. The narrow minded, fanatical Christianity followed by Eugene who leads a privileged life, the traditionalist way of his father who does not even know where his next meal will come from and the middle path that Ifeoma works out for herself and her children while hovering on the brinks of poverty. While they are baptised Christians, they respect their father/grandfather's beliefs, while their mother is well educated and is a professor at University, salaries aren't paid on time, prices are sky rocketing and supplies are low.

One summer, realising that Kambili and Jaja know nothing of life outside their fathers strict, unforgiving, disciplinarian and fanatical way of life, Aunt Ifeoma invites just the chilkdren to stay with her family for awhile under the guise of undertaking a religious pilgrimage. And here begins their awakening. While Jaja quickly adapts and learns, Kambili's process is much slower and involves intense internal turmoil.

Adichie writes beautifully, her turn of phrase is almost poetic and immerses you straight into Nigeria. She is extremely descriptive and sensitive in her handling of the story. The reader will completely empathise with Kambili within a few pages , rejoicing at each little triumph and shedding a few tears at each set back. While the story could be set anywhere in the world and would hardly change in plot, the strength of Adichies writing is the knowledge of all things Nigerian that come through in each sentence.

The description of the food, the smells, the sights, the tastes, the customs all bring the reader closer to life in Nigeria.

A poignant read, this is not something you will read for the story line or the plot, but because the words will draw you in and take you on a magical carpet right into the heart of Nigeria.

Rating : 4.2/5


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Kim's Review: Secret of the Nagas

The avidly awaited 2nd part of the 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.
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