Author: Amish Tripathi
Genre: Mythological, Fantasy
Published by: Tara Press
First Published: 2010
The novel begins with an invitation to the Guna tribe, led by the warrior Shiva, from the present ruler of Meluha, King Daksha. Meluha is a near perfect empire, created centuries ago by Lord Ram, one of the greatest rulers who walked the face of this Earth. But its Suryavanshi rulers are now faced with the threat of its lifeline, the revered River Saraswati, drying to extinction. They also face terrorist attacks by the Chandravanshis who have joined forces with the Nagas, a cursed race of skillful warriors with physical deformities. In accordance with an old prophecy, the Meluhans await their savior, the Neelkanth, and when Shiva is revealed to be the one, the kingdom erupts with joy. Shiva, already grappling with the dictates of destiny, faces yet another challenge when he falls in love with the daughter of Daksha, Princess Sati. The Princess is doomed by the tenets of vikarma rule to be an untouchable in this life to atone for the sins of the past birth. Even as he rises to these challenges and establishes himself as the Neelkanth, events reveal that his choices had dictated the course of Fate to a greater extent than he had ever imagined. The book ends with a cliff hanger and is bound to leave the reader salivating for more.
This novel is the first part of the Shiva Trilogy. Here the author creates a fictional time when Gods were human beings living on earth. The concept is unique and keeps the reader hooked with the personification of Gods as ordinary people who earned their divinity through their extraordinary deeds. Instead of a perfect divine being the book gives us a flawed human being, who has his insecurities and fears, who, in short, is one of us. The story also deals, in passing, with the perception of right and wrong, as seen from conflicting viewpoints; probably this theme will be further expanded in the remaining novels in the trilogy.
The novel flows along well, striking a fine balance between suspense and philosophy. At times the language may be jarring; an overuse of everyday, common language tends to make this otherwise delectable novel lose just some of its flavor. But that does not take away the fact that it is a compelling read, often leading the reader to introspect his or her own views regarding religion, spiritualism and philosophy. While this concept of humanizing Gods may seem offensive to some, I would urge readers to keep in mind that this is a work of fiction that just explores a different perspective. And as the book itself upholds, that what is different is not necessarily bad.