'Secret of the Nagas' is the highly anticipated sequel to The Immortals of Meluha. The first book of the Shiva Trilogy established Amish as an author par excellance and introduced us to the concept of Shiva being a man who became a legend and finally a God!
The Immortals of Meluha ended at a very poignant note with Shiva having led the fight of 'Good' Suryavanshis against the 'Bad' Chandravanshis in search for the ultimate 'Evil' Nagas only to realise that the Chandravanshis too believe in the legend of Neelkanth-the saviour and are really just different. While Shiva comes to terms with the fact that there is no black-and-white in Good v/s Evil but shades of grey, he is searching for one particular Naga who killed his brother - Brihaspati.
Writing a sequel to a much loved book is never an easy task. Readers are waiting for the same excitement and expectations are very high all around. Amish Tripathi manages to come out with a cracker of a book that meets your expectations while at the same time extending the story in a logical manner. His explanations of esoteric concepts like the Dashavtars - Narasimha avtar, Masya avtar, Parshuram ; the Vasudevs and how they are connected for service of Mahadev; the naming of cities and places like Kashi & Assi Ghat seem so logical that you learn a lot and understand why writing is an art that comes to a few people. I have learnt a lot from both his books and some concepts have opened my mind to new ways of looking at things. You must admit though that some explanations are naive where he takes poetic license but thats what writers do.
If in the first book Shiva comes to accept his destiny, albeit relunctantly; in the second book Shiva lives his destiny as he tries to find a path to his ultimate goal. In his mind, he becomes Lord Shiva from just Shiva and comes to terms with his destiny of rooting out the ultimate Evil. He understands that as Mahadev his role is to destroy Evil and restore the balance between the two opposing forces giving 'Good' a chance to come up again. He understands that Good and Evil are really cyclical in nature and there has to be a balance between the two forces. But the real question is: What is Evil?
Are the Chandravanshis evil? Or are they just different? Are The Nagas evil? Or are they just misunderstood? How can Neelkanth recognise the true Evil? Is it a person, a tribe, a way of life or a concept? 'Secret of the Nagas' is a story to find an amswer to that question while at the same time dealing with the question of diversity and acceptance.
Like the previous book, Amish introduces new interesting actors and gives them depth and character endearing them to the reader as we turn the pages. Unlike the previous book, this one takes some time to get engrossing. Amish has spent a lot of time in graphic descriptions of locales and places in this book painting a wonderful picture of the locations. However, once the actual story picks up - probably after the first 100 pages - it is 'unputdownable'. The twists and turns in the story keep you engrossed and at times take your breath away. The point where he introduces Ganesha into the storyline made me put the book down, catch my breath and marvel at the sheer brilliance of his story telling.
Amish has intelligently introduced all the mythical elements into his book and given them a possibility of reality - the third eye, the trishul, the blue throat, Ganesha and Karthik & the Naga. The only one remaining now is the river Ganga in his jatayu. Shiva's entourage of people who admire, adore, love and respect him has also grown in this book - Veerabhadra, Krithika, Nandi, Parvateshwar, Ganesh, Bhagirath & Parshuram - who will go to the ends of the world for him. And of course new mysteries have been opened in this book.
At the end, Secret of the Nagas is a worthy sequel to The Immortals of Meluha and establishes Amish as India's foremost mythical novel writer. I am eagerly looking forward to the final book - The Oath of the Vayuputras and the destruction of Evil.
I rate this book 4.5/5 and implore you to read both the parts.
Second Tattoo - I got my first tattoo done about two years ago and talked about my experience here. It got me thinking on inking again. The same rules of What, Where, Who ...