OK, you can call me a fan. I picked it up at the airport bookshop mostly because at 200 Rs and 400 pages it seemed like a rather low-cost bet, and I figured that I could use it to while away at least some time after my phone battery runs out. I ended up almost finishing it over the course of the next 3 hours, and I could hardly wait to finish the last few pages after I got back home.
The book is set in some version of the Indus Valley Civilization called “Meluha”, and this first volume of the Shiva trilogy tells the story of the young tribal chief Shiva and his introduction to Meluha society and their acceptance of him as the “Mahadev”. It is a fascinatingly plotted tale and it is told at a very joyful speed, even where the issues are grave and complex. I am the sort of reader that looks to lose myself in books, if only they would let me. This book certainly does that, even if the writing can tend to chunky and there are occasional errors (phrases are repeated in conversations, and not to good rhetorical effect; at one point it uses “council” for the verb “counsel”, etc). It deals with a variety of moral issues without appearing to proselytize, and it is easy enough to empathize with the characters in their moral quandries, something that most authors cannot get me to do. Even when I harboured suspicions that I was being “sold” some version of Hinduism in the guise of fiction, I was able to find something to empathize with, so that at least it is a version I would probably be able to live with.
I doubt that it is in any way intentional, but I found the similarities between Meluha and Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, quite striking. The way Shiva approaches the Meluhans’ “perfect” civilization is very much like Eragon and the elves; the way Eragon/Shiva falls instantly and deeply for the “perfect” aristocratic lady with a tragic past (a 100 years older than the respective messiahs in both cases); the initially divided, eventually faithful responses of the Elves/Meluhans to Eragon/Shiva – it’s an arc joined at many points, but since both stories keep me entertained I shan’t complain.
The author Amish Tripathi goes by just “Amish” on the cover, and is (yet another) IIM-grad/former financier turned immensely popular fiction author. I’m really looking forward to reading the next two books, which I believe are already out.