Review: The Shiva Trilogy – Book 3 – The Oath Of The Vayuputras

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The second book in Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy series ended with the Shiva discovering that Brahaspati was very much alive in Panchavati. The third and final book in the Trilogy – The Oath of The Vayuputras  – is about the battle of good over evil.

Once Shiva overcomes his shock and surprise, Brahaspati explains to him that the root cause of all the problems is Somras. The depletion of water in the river Saraswati, the dumping of toxic wastes in the river Brahmaputra resulting in the Branga plague, the deformities in the Nagas are all attributed to prolonged production and consumption of the Somras. Shiva then meets the Vasudevs and discovers that the Vayuputra Council, an ancient tribe with roots going back to the first Mahadev – Lord Rudra, was entrusted with the responsibility of identifying and training the next Neelkanth whenever the need to defeat evil arose. He also finds out that his Uncle who was a Vayuputra, was instrumental in grooming him as the Neelkanth.

Since Somras was the brainchild of the Meluhans, Shiva declares war on Meluha. This creates moral and emotional conflicts in Shiva’s team. Sati stands by her husband while Parvateshwar, though accepting Shiva as his God, chooses to fight for Meluha out of loyalty for his homeland and is joined by Anandamayi.

What ensues after extensive plotting and planning is a complex and tactical war against Meluha and its suspected allies which is countered by a very competent and experienced Parvateshwar. Shiva commandeers the main army and is aided by Ganesh and Karthik who attack Ayodhya. Parvateshwar along with his large Meluhan force attacks Sati’s army and emerges victorious.  Following this defeat Shiva leaves for Pariha to acquire the deadly Bramhastra from the Vayuputras which would give him the power to negotiate peace with Meluha. The Vayuputras grant him the Pashupathiastra instead. Parvateshwar uses diversionary tactics and pretends to attack Panchavati which results in Kali rushing to Panchavati and realizing that she was tricked.

In the midst of all these battles, Daksha hatches a plan to assassinate Shiva with the help of hired Egyptian assassins and invites Shiva for a so called “peace conference”. Sati attends the peace conference in Shiva’s absence and is attacked by the assassins and unfortunately meets with a bloody end. Shiva returns to Devagiri to find his brutally assassinated wife. Heartbroken and enraged, he uses the deadly weapon given by the Vayuputras to destroy all of Devagiri and with it the Somras thereby triumphing over evil. Shiva then retires to Mount Kailash along with his sons.

The book is packed with a lot of action. There are many a twists and turns in the plot and the pace is pretty fast moving. In addition to action, Amish has tried to portray the humanness of the characters by bringing out their emotional conflicts and pain.

While Amish’s intentions and efforts are commendable there still are some glaring shortcomings which prevent it from being a good book. My major bugbear continues to be the language – it lacks the flow and polish of a skilled writer and sounds amateurish. Using big words does not necessarily mean excellent writing skills, what is important is that they be used in the right context.

The ending unfortunately does not do justice as well. Given the very strong storyline and larger than life characters Amish had, he could have orchestrated  a grand finale but ends up with an extremely gory and emotionally exhausting finish.  I really didn’t see the need to bring in “Egyptian” assassins and the detailed description of Sati’s brutal killing left me cringing. I did not understand the conflicting apparitions of Sati which appear to Ganesh and Karthik either.

The hero in this book for me was Sati, not Shiva. She embodied femininity, intelligence, was a great daughter, sister, wife, mother and a greater warrior with immense strength, valour and courage. The Vayuputras are reduced to an insignificant presence in the entire series – why name the book as “The Oath of the Vayuputras”? They hardly take up a few pages of the book!

Reading has been my passion since I was a kid and a good book irrespective of its genre always leaves me feeling good. My apologies to all Amish fans, it took me sometime to get over this book – it was a big let down. I enjoyed The Immortals of Meluha, I found The Secret of the Nagas intriguing though not great but I really don’t have the patience or endurance to pick up this book again. To deal with Hindu Gods and mythological characters, their human emotions, frequent science lessons straight from textbooks, contemporary language including swearwords used in a timeline which is possibly thousands of years old and the “over the board” gory description of Sati’s murder and her mutilated body is too much for me to handle a second time around.

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Review: The Shiva Trilogy – Book 2 – The Secret of the Nagas

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The Secret of the Nagas is the second novel in the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi. In the previous book, Shiva helps the Meluhans launch an attack on Swadeep and defeat the Chandravanshis. Shiva along with Sati visits the Ram Temple in Ayodhya – the capital of Swadeep. The story continues from the last scene which is that of Shiva rushing to save Sati from being attacked by a Naga who is suspected of killing Brahaspati at Mount Mandar.

Shiva saves Sati but the Naga escapes leaving behind a few strange coins which are traced  to Chandraketu, King of the Branga Empire. Shiva and Sati visit Kashi to meet with the Branga community settled there and try to gather information.  The entourage includes General Paravateshwar – Chief of the Meluhan army, his deputies – Nandi and Veer Bhadra, Ayurvati – the Chief Meluhan doctor, Prince Bhagirath and Princess Anandamayi of Ayodhya. Anandamayi is a lissome, beautiful young lady who spends the long journey trying to lure and entice a wary Parvateshwar, who is sworn to celibacy.

To cut the story short, Shiva decides to visit Branga. As preparations begin in full swing ahead of the arduous journey, Sati gives birth to a son who is named Karthik by Shiva. Shiva then embarks on the voyage to Branga while Sati stays back to help defend a local village attacked by lions. Despite her efforts, Sati and her soldiers are on the verge of being defeated by the ferocious lions when suddenly a group of Nagas led by a man and woman appear and help them overpower the lions. The woman has an extra pair of hands and reveals herself as Kali – the Naga Queen and Sati’s twin sister separated at birth by their father, King Daksha, because of her deformities. The man in none other than Ganesh, Sati’s first born who was supposed to have died at childbirth, but was again separated from his mother by King Daksha because of his deformed face which gave him the appearance of an elephant.

Meanwhile, Shiva reaches the shores of Branga and  defeats a fearsome bandit – Parashuram – who is a Vasudev Scholar and the only person knowing the cure for the Branga plague. Realizing that Shiva is indeed the Neelkanth, Parashuram severs his left hand as atonement for his sin of fighting against him and joins Shiva’s entourage back to Kashi.

On reaching Kashi, Shiva is introduced to Kali and Ganesh. Shiva recognizes Ganesh and accuses him of killing Brahaspati and attacking Sati. After a good measure of  drama which involves lions, Ganesh and Karthik, Shiva reconciles with Ganesh and King Daksha admits abandoning Kali and Ganesh and also murdering Sati’s first husband. Shiva then travels to Panchavati where after some more action filled drama, he discovers that Brahaspati is very much alive and in good spirits!

While I rather enjoyed the first book, I found this one quite tedious and was mentally exhausted at the end of it.

First of all – too many characters, multiple locations and too many twists and turns in the plot. Second point was the narration and the language which were clumsy and uninspiring. Amish’s attempt at portraying the passionate Anadamayi falls flat. Instead of sounding passionate, she comes across as immature and almost vampish in her attempts to woo Parvateshwar. The most discordant note for me was the depiction of Ganesh and Kali. Granted that Amish has taken inspiration from Hindu religion and mythology, and agreed that as an author he has “artistic license”. While he has not tampered too much with the image of Shiva, I felt his interpretation of Ganesh and Kali and calling them the Nagas – humans with deformities – was not too appealing. Especially since I have grown up reading the stories of these iconic Indian Gods. The fusion of Amish’s creativity and imagination with the Hindu Gods and mythology does not seem to work too harmoniously.

I finished the book feeling a little drained, irritated and confused – it was like listening to a song sung off key! I confess, it was with some hesitation and trepidation that I picked up the third book – The Oath of the Vayuputras.. More to come shortly 🙂