-By Soul Sword-
The Secret of the Nagas is the 2nd book of The Shiva Trilogy Series by Amish Tripathi. This book is my favourite of the series, as it has a lot of plot twists, action, philosophy and of course, the vivid description of ancient India.
This review contains spoilers from Book 1 of the Shiva Trilogy – The Immortals of Melhua. If you haven’t read the review of book 1 yet, you can read it from here.
The book starts off from where book 1 had finished – an encounter with the Naga. Shiva fights off the Naga leader and is shocked seeing Naga’s sword-wielding skills. The mysterious Naga vanishes leaving a coin behind which has a marking on it that both Shiva and Sati haven’t seen before. It serves as a clue to finding the Naga’s whereabouts. With Mount Mandar destroyed and Shiva’s close friend Brahaspati killed by the nagas (Book 1 ending), the book follows Shiva’s Journey through the Indian rivers in his quest of finding the secret of the Nagas who lurk in the dense forests of the country. Shiva’s entourage starts their voyage on the Sarayu River and reaches Kashi (Assi Ghat) through Magadha passing the busy trading ports on their way. The kingdoms that they visit and Shiva’s findings from them make the crux of the storyline.
There are detailed descriptions of the action-packed swordfights which allow us to envision the encounters which take place. With the book having a lot of action sequences, my favourite picks were Shiva’s battle with Parshuram and Sati’s encounter with the pride of lions. They were quite different from the usual combats that I come across in books and make it a thrilling read. We are also able to visualise the mighty Brahmaputra (the only river in India that has a male name) flowing through the lands of Brangha due to the writer’s picturesque description of the delta. The entire book follows the waterways of India and it’s interesting to read about the mechanism of the security systems deployed in the rivers to avoid trespassers.
The Naga leader is referred to as Lord of the People by the Nagas and his identity is the turning point of the story. We get a glimpse of the Naga territory and the Queen of the Nagas early on in the book which adds to the suspense of the narrative.
On a lighter note, it is refreshing to read the portions where Anandmayi, the sexy Swadeepan Princess who is a feisty and intelligent woman, makes fun of the calm and composed Melhuan warlord Parvateshwar (who has taken a vow of celibacy). Their contrast in characters really makes the reader enjoy their conversations.
Shiva and Sati are portrayed as a lovey-dovey couple who is expecting their first baby. Shiva also makes many friends during his voyage who are loyal to him and the ‘bromance’ is good to read.
My favourite characters in this book are The Lord of The People and The Queen of The Nagas as they have a mysterious touch to their personality. The Lord of The People is a daring warrior but is full of emotion at the same time. The Queen of the Nagas is an unyielding and dynamic woman who burns with fury when angered. Her identity leads to a huge revelation in the story. Whenever these two characters are present, the pace of the story increases by two-folds.
It is intriguing how the temples are shown as transmitters which allow the Pandits (scholars) to talk to one another telepathically. Also, Shiva doesn’t go to the temples to ask for wishes to be granted or to pray for the well being of his loved ones but goes there for gaining wisdom and advice from the pundits telepathically.
The book emphasises the importance of a good leader. We read about many leaders namely Daksha (Melhuan emperor), Dilipa (Swadeepan King), Aththigva (ruler of Kashi), Shiva, The Lord of the People and the Queen of The Nagas. We see how the society is moulded when rulers are cowardly or selfish as opposed to when they are magnanimous and brave.
The book also covers the cultures of each kingdom (Melhua, Swadeep, Kashi, Brangha and Naga) and how every culture develops a rivalry with the other, due to the difference in their customs and traditions. Once we read the book we get to know that the main cause of rivalry among kingdoms is them not respecting each other’s differences. The author has written the novel in a way that we readers as outsiders to the ways and means of these cultures can relate to Shiva (also an outsider) who is able to understand that every culture has their own reasons for being how they are and they shouldn’t be hated for being different.
‘The Secret of the Nagas’ has a good blend of action and philosophy along with a touch of humour. It also shows the sinister side of some of the characters from Book 1(The Immortals of Melhua). Due to Amish’s detailed description of the natural landscapes and waterways, I felt as if I was accompanying Shiva’s entourage on his voyage while I read the book.
My favourite quotes from this book are:
“The opposite of love is not hate. Hate is just love gone bad. The actual opposite of love is apathy. When you don’t care a damn as to what happens to the other person.”
“Fate controls only the weak, Your Highness. The strong mould the providence they want”
“Nobody is good or bad. They are either strong or weak. Strong people stick to their morals, no matter what the trials and tribulations. Weak people, many a times, do not even realise how low they have fallen.”
This book was a fast-paced one when compared to Book 1. It finishes off in a more mysterious way than it started and it leaves us wanting to read its sequel (The Oath of The Vayuputras) immediately so I would give this book a rating of 4.5/5.
The book can be purchased from here.