Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book review: The Secret of The Nagas - by Amish Tripathi

I received this book along with the Immortals of Meluha, as part of the Blogadda Book Review Program.

The book starts with Shiva now settled into happy matrimony with Sati. Their sailing off in a huge naval formation to Kashi, the wondrous land, which welcomes everyone. The birth of their son, Kartik. The emphasis shifts from just Shiva and Sati to his generals, and assorted kings of the small kingdoms in that area, and a community called the Brangas , the name being a nice combination of Bramhaputra and Ganga, hinting at these folks being the precursors to our modern day Bengalis.

A lot of the Nagas , who intermittently and hazily appeared in the Meluha book trying to attack Shiva, now appear with much more prominence. There are conflicts amongst the various communities in Kashi, one sees the Suryavaunshis , Parvateshwar , Nandi ,Sati and Shiva introducing solutions. Some Vasudevs, who seem to be guys with extrasensory perception, and a good network across temples in the North, occasionally get Shiva into conversations, where he is forced to think on why good and evil exist, and whether evil is really evil. There is an effort by the author  to link the ancients with recent science by hinting that temple tops were used as radio wave propagators and detectors. 

There are several  campaigns undertaken by Shiva to overpower the valiant but hot headed Parshuram, and the Nagas, in the quest for a special medicine.   Sati's own fight with the man eating lions  introduced somewhere in the middle of the book, brings her face to face with her own twin abandoned sister and her abandoned son, Ganesh.

From there on, the entire novel takes on a Hindi Movie Bollywoody form.

The Orwellian concept of the inappropriately named Maika, where all newborns (except royal types) were abandoned and brought up till they were sixteen.  Sati being told a lie about her first stillborn son, who was actually OK, but born a Naga, and she herself having a Naga sister, raising questions about Sati's' mother. 

The side romance of  Anandmayidevi with her shocking dress sense and gestures, and Parvateshwar. who actually sounds like an old fogey, keeping away from Anandmayi's blandishments, but succumbing in the end.  There are several fairly gruesome fights with lions, and a creature called a liger( lion + tiger).  Ganesh, Sati's Naga son, saving her other son Kartik from them, and getting badly injured himself.

And the final trek through the Dandakaranya, with the Naga queen and Ganesh, learning about new regions, to finally reach Panchavati (near present day Nashik), where there are normal people living with human qualities.

The book ends rather abruptly with Brahaspati, who Shiva treats as a brother , who is considered dead/killed, suddenly appearing teaching a class.

As a story it entertains in the way a harmless Hindi film does.  But you tend to forget about it when you finish the book, possibly because there are too many characters in the book. It is not a book that will keep you awake.

I might add that being of a generation that looks upon Shiva,Ganesh,Kartik, et al in a different formal light, it sometimes  bothers that Gods are seen smoking chillums, angry with each other,  and getting lectured by Vasudevs in temples.

I also find it terribly intriguing that most of the activities and personages getting into scrapes and playing politics with each other and the citizens, seem to be in the region we today refer to as UP.  :-)

I liked the Meluha book much better. It moved on a different plane.  The Secret of the Nagas feels like a contrived story to bring regions, South of the Vindhyas into the picture.

I wonder what the Vayuputras will be up to in the 3rd part .... 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!


  1. OK i have this book ordered But as usual with the indian shopping they said 2 -3 days delivery its been 13 days alreayd .. NO sign and worst is , it is to be shipped to a friend in india who will then courir it to me ..

    desperately looking forward to it

  2. I am currently reading this book. Like you so rightly said, the immortals of Meluha was gripping, I have lost track in this book midway ! Now that I knwo the end through your post, I wonder if I will read it till the end !

  3. Very well written review. I think it would need a lot of will power to read this book!

    Too many characters are heavy stuff. and having your Gods as characters being some what ordinary can be disturbing too.

    tks for sharing about the book.


  4. Nice review.The good thing about the shiva series is the start of new theme of books in the Indian market. The third part-Vayuputras - will be about Meluha been destroyed by Shiva. The creatives Nagas will live and the rule following Meluha will be destroyed. The cycle will continue after 5000 years in 2012Dec21.- aka Shiva Hypothesis
    Hope you review my book - Baramulla Bomber, when i come :)

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