Mith's Reviews > The Secret of the Nagas

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi
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Aug 13, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, indian, owned, absolutely-spiffing, mythology
Read from August 12 to 13, 2011

It isn't often one comes across a book by an Indian author, with a sequel. It is even rarer when the said sequel might just be better than its predecessor.

Tripathi once again delves into Indian mythology and spins a fascinating tale around many of the names heard in tales told at our grandmothers' knees, portraying them as mere mortals. Last left, Shiva was about to launch an attack on the dreaded Nagas to avenge Brahaspathi's death. The book's blurb gives you enough indication, and then some, that Shiva's plan might not be that easy to execute. His desire, and ours, for answers takes him all across India in this book, with the city in focus being Kashi.

I'll give the book this, the author has good command over the story and doesn't let it meander, with something or the other always afoot. Filled with secrets, shocks and betrayal, this book is a page-turner from start to finish. The reveal of the Naga's identity was shocking, to say the least. I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING, PEOPLE! The "secret" of the Nagas, however, was something I had long suspected so I wasn't blown away by the "cliff-hanger". As for that Master Pupeteer, I think it's (view spoiler). There's a suspicious character if there ever was one!

But, the book is not perfect either. Many issues are brought up and then never addressed again, or explained properly. For example, the awfully gross "ritual" the Branga people perform in Kashi - what is THAT about? Or this mysterious plague that seems to affect them, nothing is mentioned as to what it is or why it is happening or how it started and it is never brought up again after that chapter.

Sati annoyed me a bit in this book. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be OK with leaving my 6-month old son and going off to fight lions or planning a break-in because I'm wondering what the King of Kashi is up to when he disappears mysteriously into his palace every now and then (BOUNDARIES, woman!). Anandamayi, however, was a delight to read about. I couldn't help but grin every time that feisty, saucy girl sauntered onto the page!

The author often uses the story to put forth his opinion on many issues - like Karma, ethics, consequentialism, existentialism and the balance of Good and Evil. Though it is clearly intended to make you think, sometimes it does get a bit too much. What I also found jarring was the use of certain words/phrases that didn't quite match with the era the book is set in. I get that the author has tried to give the story as modern a take as possible, but I can't quite digest the fact that these people know of "radio waves" and "accumulator machines" OR that they say things like "You're a 180-year old virgin??" (Was anybody else reminded of Twilight here? No? Just me? OK.) and "I never understand their mumbo-jumbo". But maybe that's just me.

Recommended. Go read. Now.
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Reading Progress

08/11/2011 page 42
10.0% "WHO ARE THE NAGAS?! GAH!"
08/12/2011 page 102
26.0% 4 comments
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Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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message 1: by Hemal (new)

Hemal Majithia Hi Mith, you can also connect to the SHiva Triogy fanpage too on Facebook www.facebook.com/shivatrilogy


Shiva Trilogy To get connected with the Fans of Shiva Trilogy [ www.facebook.com/shivatrilogy ][Book 1 - The Immortals of Meluha (# No 1 Bestseller), Book 2 - The Secret of the Nagas (Coming in the first week of August), Book 3 - The Oath of the Vayuputras]. Join the Facebook fanpage of Shiva trilogy [ www.facebook.com/shivatrilogy ] & be the first to get the latest updates about Shiva Trilogy.


Sundeep Supertramp i will be receiving my copy, tomorrow... just cant wait after reading the 1st book..


message 4: by Namratha (new)

Namratha ah...engaging review :) I want to read it now just to hit the (BOUNDARIES, Woman!) bit


Mith @Sundeep and Namz - Can't wait to read your take on it :)


message 6: by Namratha (new)

Namratha :)


Sundeep Supertramp Mith wrote: "@Sundeep and Namz - Can't wait to read your take on it :)"

:)


Arnab Das okay here's the thing, Sati was a woman of virtue of a different nature than what is considered conventional today. Comparing Sati to women of the 21st century would be a mistake. Also, a considerable part of the novel is based on actual facts. So I wouldn't be surprised if Sati really went to fight the ligers leaving Kartik back with Krittika.

The secret of the plague I believe will be revealed in the Vayuputras, the final book in the series.

As for anachronisms, they abound. 'Hours' are mentioned, when prahars are what was the standard time denomination back then. Of course, like you mentioned, the radio waves as well.

But even then, I'm willing to overlook all these just for the sheer wow-factor. Books by Indian authors are rarely page turners. This is quite refreshingly an exception.


Mith Sati was a woman of virtue of a different nature than what is considered conventional today. Comparing Sati to women of the 21st century would be a mistake

That may be BUT my point was that hadn't Sati lost her first child? Wouldn't she be more careful with or more attached to her second? That didn't quite ring true to me being a woman myself - you know, motherly instincts and all...

Other than that, I agree with everything else you said :)


Arnab Das Mith wrote: "Sati was a woman of virtue of a different nature than what is considered conventional today. Comparing Sati to women of the 21st century would be a mistake

That may be BUT my point was that hadn't..."


that is actually a very good point. but Sati was pretty nervous before the birth of her son, as is evident from her conversations with Shiva around during that period. hence the reason why she allowed Daksha to administer the somras to her son.

As for the fight with the ligers, I have my own theory. I could be wrong of course and you can disagree with me completely. Sati was from a Kshatriya family. She wasnt really the run-of-the-mill mother that most were, 'a fierce warrior', as Amish puts it, in his trailers for the book, unlike Veerini or Krittika. So maybe standing up for the weak, protecting their rights (the weak in this case being the residents of the village where the attack was taking place), when soldiers of their own kingdom, Kashi, was unable to do so, might have seemed to be an injustice to her. This awoke the Kshatriya in her and made her realise that fighting for weak was more important than protecting her son (who would be adequately protected anyway in the palace of Kashi).

My 2 cents.


message 11: by Mith (last edited Aug 17, 2011 10:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mith *Hat tip* :D

(Although I do think the only reason the bit about the lions and ligers was put in the story was so that Sati could run into the Nagas away from everybody else)


message 12: by Arnab (last edited Aug 17, 2011 10:34PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Arnab Das Mith wrote: "*Hat tip* :D"

damn, i look like amish's publicist now :D

also, now that i re-read my post (extreme narcissism I know lol), shocked at how poor my proof reading skills are. Grammatical errors I mean. Hat tip for looking past all those haha.

And yeah, that is absolutely evident. I'm so in love with the plot, I'm springing up my own theories to plug the loopholes lol


Greig it was predictable and the secret was lame... no where close to the first book. hope the next one is better


message 14: by Mith (last edited Aug 17, 2011 11:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mith damn, i look like amish's publicist now :D

Lol! You should definitely let Amish know you're available AND do a pretty good job, at that!

Greig wrote: "it was predictable and the secret was lame... no where close to the first book. hope the next one is better"

Agreed the "secret" bit was lame, but on the whole it wasn't that bad a book. Kept me turning the page eagerly at least. Could have been a lot worse!


Greig agree it was a page turner :)


Ashwini Sharma how did you manage to give a review on june 24 itself ? :\ - insider ?


message 17: by Mith (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mith Ha! I finished it on August 13th actually.. Don't know why Goodreads is saying June 24th! :-|


message 18: by Amit (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amit Actually I'm waiting for Sati to get really pissed off. In anger even Shiva doesnt face her (Shiv Puran has a couple of instances! Lol.. Even though as Shakti or Parvati)


message 19: by Amit (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amit I can see her fighting so early though. She is Durga incarnate after all


message 20: by Ashwini (last edited Aug 20, 2011 08:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ashwini Sharma amish has mixed everything from here and there from indian mythology perhaps. do not expect his book to go along those lines anyway, because the objective he seeks his different.

anyhow, the most laughable part about the book is the fact that he keeps using the term India throughout, which was hardly a concept back then in Shiva's time. But then, again , its understandable, perhaps he wants to instil a patriotic sense into his readers. In all, is not amish trying to achieve a lot? trying to keep every type of reader pleased ?


message 21: by Mith (last edited Aug 20, 2011 09:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mith Amit wrote: "Actually I'm waiting for Sati to get really pissed off. In anger even Shiva doesnt face her (Shiv Puran has a couple of instances!"

Don't hold your breath Amit. Like Ashwini pointed out, the characters are familiar but he has taken a lot of liberty with the mythology, mixing up eras and crossing paths of certain characters which certainly didn't happen in the puranas. This book definitely deviates from the stories we heard and read as kids!

Ashwini wrote: "In all, is not amish trying to achieve a lot? trying to keep every type of reader pleased ? "

Very true! Think of this book in the same way as the Percy Jackson series - same characters, new modern twist to satisfy the imagination of the current generation!


message 22: by Arnab (last edited Aug 21, 2011 01:02AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Arnab Das @Ashwini

This is popular fiction! What else did you expect? Victorian english and academic research? No offence intended btw, meant in good humour. Popular literature is not everyone's cup of tea and I respect that sentiment. Stephen King may be brushed aside by his critics for writing popular stuff but he is still a favourite among many readers. (Not comparing Amish to him, just stating a fact)

I guess for a debut author, selling more books is a bigger priority than having a historically accurate and critically acclaimed novel. Have seen debut authors struggle, I know the kind of pressures publishers put on these people. Cant blame Amish from that standpoint.

Not justifying his flaws though. That the editor has had sleepless nights with this novel, is pretty evident from the amateurish writing and bollywood-esque climaxes.


Ashwini Sharma @arnab

- I did not expect anything. I read. I noted. I laughed. I commented. thats all :P

every writer has his own compulsions for coming out with whatever he does. The ideas he puts in the book definitely show amish is much capable of more deeper things. He is putting out this series for the masses. Well, thats his decision


message 24: by Ashwini (last edited Aug 22, 2011 07:06AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ashwini Sharma @mith -

This book definitely deviates from the stories we heard and read as kids!

This book will deviate, because Amish' sole motive is to present shiva as a human. So he has devised lateral web of stories, rather than a linear one (as is the case in hindu mythology). you know, human stories get corrupted and re-fashioned to suit contemporary mentality. The same way bible is alleged to have been modified and altered to suit the needs of that time. So amish's attempt is at just coming up with one probable possibility of an actual shiva's life. He is of course fascinated with mythology, but at the same time, he is modern enough to not believe in it, so he had to rationalize it to himself with a practical human storyline which puts a real human story around shiva, but at the same time does not deviate from the basic characteristics and people, beliefs that shiva is known with. Hence the book is bound to be different from what you would have heard, because it is amish's rationalization of popular myth and his beliefs, not the one from where you read the story.


message 25: by Mith (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mith Is EVERYBODY out to be Amish's publicist?! :-|


message 26: by Amit (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amit Mith wrote: "Is EVERYBODY out to be Amish's publicist?! :-|"

Haha, na i think its more like evryone is defending thier fav God!


Arnab Das Amit wrote: "Mith wrote: "Is EVERYBODY out to be Amish's publicist?! :-|"

Haha, na i think its more like evryone is defending thier fav God!"


awesome! well said.


Arnab Das Mith wrote: "Is EVERYBODY out to be Amish's publicist?! :-|"

i hate competition :|


Priya I just finished the book and came back to see your review. :-) Interesting views. I think I have to start being a bit more open-minded about overlooking the jarring bits and enjoy the story. Somehow, lapses in language and style distract me totally from the narrative.

After finishing the book, I just got this feeling that the author hasn't tried to maintain consistency with his style - he seems confused on whether to stick to the ancient style of prose or come down to 21st century slang, and ends up using both.

And his efforts at portraying Shiva as a cool yuppie pot-junkie was slightly comical :-D


Ashwini Sharma he seems confused on whether to stick to the ancient style of prose or come down to 21st century slang, and ends up using both.

^he is trying to please every type of reader - those uncles and aunties who fervently believe in shiva, as well as the teenage internet junkie who will think - damn, shiva is so cool. lol


Arnab Das And the left liberal in us ;)


Priya Let me be honest though - I did have a teensy weensy crush on Shiva after reading 'Immortals'. But now that he's married.. well.. :-P [Lesson: Don't let the hero get married till the very last page, or preferably never.]


Ashwini Sharma @arnab - hahahaaha, yes, you had the nagas in mind ?


message 34: by Mith (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mith Priya wrote: "I just finished the book and came back to see your review. :-) Interesting views. I think I have to start being a bit more open-minded about overlooking the jarring bits and enjoy the story. Somehow, lapses in language and style distract me totally from the narrative."

Lapses in language I can handle, it's the lazy plot devices that get on my nerves!

Priya wrote: "Let me be honest though - I did have a teensy weensy crush on Shiva after reading 'Immortals'. But now that he's married.. well.. :-P [Lesson: Don't let the hero get married till the very last page, or preferably never.]"

Amen! :D


Arnab Das Priya wrote: "Let me be honest though - I did have a teensy weensy crush on Shiva after reading 'Immortals'. But now that he's married.. well.. :-P [Lesson: Don't let the hero get married till the very last page..."

Haha depends. The entire plot seems like a communist conspiracy to de-immortalise our gods lol


message 36: by Rajat (new)

Rajat Pillai The novel that is making waves around the country, 'Chandragupta:Path of a Fallen Demigod' (NATIONAL BESTSELLER) is now on Flipkart and Infibeam. If your love a fast paced thriller and love Indian history/culture. This novel is for you.


Vinay I am glad that you wrote this review. Because this review made me pick up this epic tale. :)


message 38: by Mith (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mith Vinay wrote: "I am glad that you wrote this review. Because this review made me pick up this epic tale. :)"

Glad to hear that Vinay :) Hope you enjoyed the series as much as I did :)


Nisarg Vinchhi secret? you mean the person who's dead but alive right? or is there any other secret which was revealed but I missed it?


Pankaj Sharma Hi,

I am Pankaj and I represent www.learningandcreativity.com, a interactive site to promote writing talents. I like your writing stytle and would like to post your this and other reviews/writings on our website.

We will feature your bio with your photograph with a link back to your blog or website (if any).

Let me know your views. Meanwhile check out our authors who contribute to our website.
http://www.learningandcreativity.com/...

Warm Regards,
Pankaj Sharma


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