by Soul Sword
The Immortals of Melhua by Amish is a fascinating take on ancient India in 1900 B.C and is the first book of the 3 part series -The Shiva Trilogy. Amish Tripathi was born in Mumbai and worked for 14 years in the financial services industry, before beginning his writing career. This novel is set in the renowned Indus Valley Civilisation. Amish depicts Lord Shiva (the protagonist) and many other deities as humans, who go through the issues and emotions that the Gods usually don’t have to deal with. His writing style is so vivid that we feel as if we have travelled back in time to ancient India and are living among the Melhuans.
The story starts off with the 21-year-old Shiva (chief of the Guna tribes) at the Manasarovar lake in the Himalayas, having a discussion with Bhadra (his friend); on the hostile situation with the bloodthirsty neighbouring tribe. He thinks back to his late uncle’s words to him, “your destiny is larger than the massive mountains” before making a decision to shift his tribe to another place. Shiva accepts Nandi’s (a Melhuan warrior) invitation to migrate his tribe to the peaceful Melhua, where they would be given farmland and resources. Nandi tells him that they would just have to pay taxes in return. They travel for 4 weeks through the Himalayas to reach Srinagar in Kashmir and they are awestruck by its infrastructure that includes underwater drainage apart from being a perfectly planned city. They are asked to register themselves and are quarantined and detoxified using a medicine that causes everyone from the Guna tribe to fall sick. After this process, the tribe is treated but Siva’s throat turns blue to everyone’s astonishment. He is perplexed by the sudden devotion of the people who start addressing him as NeelKanth (Blue Throat), the saviour they have been waiting for. He asks them to explain their behaviour when Nandi tells him that Shiva has to meet the emperor who will explain everything clearly.
After leaving his tribe in Kashmir, Shiva and Nandi travel to Devagiri, the capital of Melhua which seems like an advanced and flawless society which houses the immortals of Melhua. On the way, in an action-packed swordfight, he meets his love interest Princess Sati/Parvatiand is love struck by her. At the palace, he meets the Suryavanshi (Descendants of the Sun) emperor who explains the prophecy of the NeelKanth and asks him to lead the war against the Chandravanshis (descendants of the Moon) who launch terror attacks on them allying with the Nagas (people born with deformities and known for their fighting skills). Little does Shiva know that the king has secrets of his own and that there is more to it than what meets the eye. The rest of the book covers his journey towards fulfilling the prophecy and discovering the mystery behind the Chandravanshis.
Shiva is portrayed as chivalrous, intelligent, uncivilised person who possesses a modern and broadminded way of thinking. He is always deep in his thoughts and seems guilt-ridden. Shiva is also an amazing warrior and an excellent dancer. Throughout the book, his thoughts always are in line with the readers as both are new to the Melhuan way of life. It is funny when Shiva who is supposed to be a god uses words like “bloody” and “shut up”. His sense of humour makes the book twice as better than it already is. His amazed reaction towards the common contraptions like the tap, soap, and plumbing in Melhua is fun to read. When he visits a temple he tells the pandit,” I don’t believe in symbolic gods. I believe that God exists all around us.”
Sati is a law-abiding and loyal woman whose bravery knows no bounds. She is a supporting partner to Shiva, loves him fiercely and comes across as a virtuous and determined lady. Nandi, a calm and composed warrior, slowly evolves into Shiva’s right-hand man. Every character in the book has their uniqueness and adds value to the storyline.
Amish effectively incorporates the caste system and other prejudices which were prevalent in ancient India and concepts like Vikarma and Maika into the storyline. The Melhuans are described as peace-loving people who abide by the strict laws that govern them.
What I loved about the book
- It has an interesting mix of the existing legend and fiction. Even the people who have read about the legends will find this book interesting.
- Usually in all books we see a lot of descriptions of the river Ganga or Yamuna. Here we read about the mysterious river Saraswati which after a point, is believed to be flowing underground for about 800 km before surfacing again at Allahabad.
- Amish’s detailed and precise description of the geography brings the novel remarkably close to nonfiction.
- It was refreshing to read a book with an advanced civilisation without even a hint of the present concrete jungle that we live in. The civilisation attains considerable level of modernity without resorting to pollution and deforestation.
- He has incorporated all of Lord Shiva’s qualities in a mortal barbarian, showing us that u needn’t be perfect to be godly and that godliness can be found in a human.
- The book has a lot of philosophy and quotes. My favourites being –
‘These people aren’t evil. They’re just different. Being different isn’t evil.’- Shiva
‘Whether a man is a legend or not is decided by history, not fortune-tellers.’-Brahaspati
I would give this book a rating of 4/5.
The book can be purchased from here.