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‘Your destiny is much larger than these massive mountains. But to make it come true, you will have to cross these very same massive mountains.’
Thus spoke Shiva’s uncle.
21 year old Shiva, the chief of the Guna tribe is reminded of these words as he is contemplating the invitation of the King of Meluha, brought to him by his messenger Nandi.
Tired of pointless and endless fight with the Pakratis and their growing allies for control of the holy Manasarovar lakeside, the prospect of moving to the peaceful and meticulously planned city of Meluha on the Jhelum banks seemed to be very attractive to Shiva.
Taking the tough decision to move to Meluha, Shiva uproots his tribes and follows Nandi to Meluha. Before entering the city Shiva’s tribe is quarantined and made to drink Somras in its pure form which makes every member of the tribe fall ill except Shiva, who instead of falling ill gets completely healed of his scars and bruises of battle and develops a blue colour on his throat.
Meluha is ecstatic. The Neelkanth, their savior has made his appearance.
Moving on, Shiva stays as King Daksha’s at Devagiri where he meets Sati, his daughter. Over a series of dancing lessons, their romance blossoms. However, Sati is a vikarma- cursed because of the sins of past life. Irrespective of this, Shiva decides to get married to Sati and fulfils his promise.
The Suryavanshis of Meluha are at war with Chandravanshis of Swadeep.
However there is a third party involved- the Nagas who commit an act of terrorism and blast the Mount Mandar- the Somras manufacturing centre of Meluha- the key to the Meluhans long life.
Enraged, Shiva declares a war against the Chandravanshis and their King is captured. From the Chandravanshi princess Anandmayi, Shiva comes to know that the Chandravanshis also believe in a similar legend that the Neelkanth their saviour will appear.
Shiva visits Ayodhya, the capital of Swadeep and knowledge dawns on him.
The story ends with the attack of the Naga on Sati and the readers are left gasping for more.
The story is very interesting. The premise that Shiva could have been a man who rose to God like status because of his karma was quite interesting. The characters and plot broadly maintain consistency with the original legend. Some scenes seem to be a drag and could do with a crisper editing.
Above all, I loved the book cover. Truly indicative of the powerful God like character of Shiva.
In the second part of the trilogy, the story opens with Shiva and Sati battling a Naga warrior, thus setting the stage for events to follow. Shiva’s ultimate goal is to reach the Nagas, the root of all evil.
This story also throws light on the Naga perspective, their mysterious Queen and her nephew Lord of the People.
Shiva’s path to the Nagas is full of other discoveries.
The first discovery is that of Brangas- the cursed inhabitants of the land at the confluence of the river Brahmaptura and Ganga. The Brangas are inflicted by the curse and depend on the Nagas for the medicine for their survival.
To reach them, Shiva and Sati travel to Kashi, where a tribe of Brangas who have escaped their homeland live.
In the holy city of Kashi, their son Kartik is born.
Meanwhile, Shiva gets introduced to their leader Divodas who will lead them to the Branga land.
Sati stays behind while Shiva along with his trusted followers and soldiers travel to the Branga land.
The Naga Lord of the people feels it is the right tiem to reach Sati who is now alone without the protection of Shiva.
During this time, a village gets attacked by a pack of man-eating lions. Sati leads the troop of Kashi soldiers to kill the lions however the soldiers are totally a failure at war since Kashi is declared a city of peace and therefore no military training for the soldiers are done.
Sati is on the verge of defeat at the hands of the maneaters. However, right on time the Nagas come to their rescue and save Sati.
Sati discovers the true identity of the Naga Queen and the Lord of the people and comes to know of a greater betrayal at the hands of her father.
The Branga king refuses to reveal the Nagas to Shiva as they were dependent on the Nagas for their medicines. The other person aware of the recipe of the medicine is Parshuram the Bandit who is as difficult to catch as reaching the Nagas.
However Shiva is able to conquer the bandit not only physically but also his heart.
Shiva returns to Kashi and is startled to meet the Lord of the People who seems to be the killer of his friend Brihaspati. A rift forms between Shiva and Sati over the Lord of the People and despite many attempts of the Naga to redeem himself, Shiva still does not trust him completely.
The Naga Queen decides to reveal the secret of the Nagas to Shiva and the convoy travel to Panchvati the abode of the Nagas through the treacherous Dandak forest.
The book ends when the Secret is revealed to Shiva.
However the secret does not seem as earth shattering as it is made out to be throughout the book. Perhaps the relevance will be revealed in the final book of the trilogy.
The story starts slowly and I almost gave up after the first few pages. But soon the tale picks up speed and I was in a rush to reach the end.
However, the story this time became a little filmier than the previous one. However, it is a fun book and I almost cheered at the discovery of the identity of the lord of the people.
The author manages to keep the parallels to the original myth intact and develops the story well. Here again, I felt that the writing could do with a sharper editing.
Highly recommended for a fun read.