Saturday, 2 June 2012

Kim's Review: Tradewinds to Meluhha

Trade Winds to Meluhha is set in the Bronze Age of which little is known except for the bits and pieces of archaeological evidence gathered from sites in Mesopotamia (Sumer= Iraq  & around), Egypt and the Indus Valley (Meluhha - India + Pakistan).

Vasant Dave first came upon such a site, when visiting the 4,000 year old port at Lothal near Ahmedabad and storm channels at Dholavira in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat and that was the starting point for this Bronze Age Novel.

Set during King Shulgi's reign in Babylon, the story is supposed to have taken place around 2138-37BC, three centuries before the great King Hammurabi founded the first Babylonian empire.

The tale follows Samasin, a stable boy in the house of the wealthy Babylonian Nergal. One day he is falsely implicated in the murder of a visiting Meluhhan businessman. Tipped off by Nergal's divorced wife Elati, he flees to the distant land of Meluhha in search of Siwa Saqra whose name the dying Meluhhan had uttered. During the course of the voyage, he falls in love with Velli who is still devoted to a man who jilted her. He also meets Anu, a Sumérian hairdresser in Meluhha, who conceals her true nationality until she can exact her revenge.

Circumstances bring all the characters together in Babylon when they discover the truth about the trade between Meluhha and Sumér, and the identity of the brain behind the operations. A trial before Babylon's Council of Elders ends in a serious counter-allegation that jeopardizes the judiciary itself. After a hot pursuit beyond the Lower Sea, the culprit is brought to book and sentenced to death.

Vasant has taken great care in adhering to historical accuracy as far as possible. He got Dr.Ratnagar an expert on this era to whet the book and took her feedback seriously. He had assumed wide use of camels as means of transport in Meluhha & had timed the hero Samasin's travel accordingly. Dr. Ratnagar pointed out the rarity of the camel in the Indus Valley during the time period of the novel. Single-humped Dromedary camels were not yet domesticated and double-humped Bactrian camels were rare. Ox-carts were the common mode of transport. The change resulted in rescheduling the entire travel plan which had to be completed before trade winds changed direction and the voyage back to Sumér was made impossible.

The Tradewinds of Meluhha is quite a page turner. The names initially are a bit of tongue & brain twisters, but once you get the hang of it, its much easier to keep pace.

Given that the names of places used in this story are ancient ones, I really wished I had this book in hard copy so I could keep referring back to the map. However, taking a printout of that single page, solved that problem for me.

The book needs a good editor to tighten the grammar, sentence structure, long winding sentences and spelling errors, but this is a problem faced by a lot of authors who self-publish.

The author has remained true to facts as far as possible, but in some cases (like laws that actually came into play during the later reign of Hammurrabi, rather than Shulgi during whose reign this novel is set) he has taken a few liberties which are perfectly acceptable for a writer of fiction.

While the setting may be pre-historical, the emotions are real. The reader can empathise with the hero and the emotions that he goes through although at times I wonder if he was so blind that he could not recognise people in front of him. He shows great logical skills in certain tasks and seems completely idiotic in not recognising the man who tries to kill him multiple times in various guises.

Its quite an exciting story and unique in its settings both in terms of time and space.

I have my fingers crossed that Vasant may find a good publisher to help him edit and bring out this book in hard copy.

Find out more about the author at Smashwords where you can download the free ebook, How I Wrote A Pre-Historic Novel.

This post is a part of Vasant Dave's blog tour:

1. Book Cover Justice   ...     ...
2. Indie BookSpot       ...     ...
3. Journey Reader       ...     ...
4. Kim & Brajesh's Bookshelf    ...
5. Kindle And Me        ...     ...
6. Life of an Intimate Flying Object
7. So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
8. Susan Russo Anderson ...     ...
9. Writing Sleuth       ...     ... 

Trade Winds To Meluhha by Vasant Davé is available as e-Book in various formats from the following web-sites:

Barnes & Noble

1 comment:

Vasant Davé said...

Karishma, I am grateful to you for reviewing Trade winds to Meluhha in the midst of the anxiety and the agony of job-transfer from one country to another. I hope that your readers get interested in this novel that goes four millenniums back to Indus Valley Civilization and its ties with ancient Mesopotamia.

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