The second book in the Shiva Trilogy series by Amish Tripathi.
A review in one word – Very Good. Ok, 2 words. My bad.
Indian authors have never impressed me. As a not-so-infrequent reader, I care less about the story and more about how the book is written. Witness being the fact that I’d prefer Amitav Ghosh to Chetan Bhagat any day. Having said that, Amitav Ghosh is my favourite author at the moment (I’m very fickle in these things). So no, not all Indian authors are bad.
Anyway, coming back to the book.
Secret of the Nagas starts almost at the exact point where its prequel Immortals of Meluha stopped. From there on, the book picks up pace .. very hard and very quick. In a span of 384 pages, the author covers more than 5 years worth of incidents. I have read many books which attempt to span eons together. The most accurate example would be, of course, the Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien. But there is a different flavour to this book. I was able to give it only one read as the book is in high demand and I am one of the few people with a copy.
What I hate about Indian authors is their utter lack of writing quality. I know they are trying to write for the masses in general. But that does not give them the license to use downright lame writing styles. One example from this book would be this – every few lines, there will be some word from Sanskrit whose meaning is not evident in English. What the author (or probably his editor) did was to put it in italics along with the meaning of the word as a phrase in English – again in italics. One of the few I remember is this – janau, sacred thread worn by … The first time, it made sense. Not everyone who reads the book will know what a janau is. But repeating this every single time the word janau is used gets H-I-G-H-L-Y irritating. I didn’t read the appendix but I’m guessing it is defined once more there as well.
Now that I’ve put my rant out of the way, let’s get to the story. One word – BRILLIANT! Every single mythological character we have heard of associated with Shiva has been introduced in an *almost* completely logical manner (I still find the concept of nagas kinda unbelievable). For anyone who hates details, you can rejoice. The author does not describe most elements in the book in much detail (well, not as much as I like) but that is fine because a large part of the audience usually hates it.
*spoiler* – There is a description of the gates of a city called Branga. J.R.R. Tolkien and George Martin would’ve shed a tear. What concept, my god! #notSarcasm
The book is a fast read. I finished it within 1 and a half to 2 hours (effectively). It is a definition of a page turner. I never stopped reading unless I had some chore or the other to attend to … I have acute ADD when there is a laptop near me. So, you get my point.
Consensus: Read the book. Even if you’re not a great fan of mythology, the book is a fantasy novel of the first order. Don’t be a snob (like me) and let the writing style be damned. Or remember that you’ve ordered a copy of River of Smoke (like me) which you can read once you have free time.
I rate it a 4/5