That was my first reaction, when I heard that Amish's latest and concluding part of the Shiva Trilogy was going to be bigger than the earlier ones. The novel had already garnered a lot of anticipation and the buzz was building high. My little heart was weary with worry. I could not help but think of all the hyped concluding parts of so many other series’. Be it the JK Rowling’s Potter Series or MR’s Five Warriors. The buzz had always higher than the results that were delivered. Was Amish going to add to the list of disappointments? The book took a little too much time for release. The release date was postponed twice and the buzz and anticipation roared higher. My misgivings rose too.
When it came for pre-release order on Flipkart… I was fast to order it. It saved me 150 bucks and I would get the book before (or at the same time) it reached the stores. I was happy. Early last week, I got the mail from Flipkart saying the book will reach me by Thursday last and I was happier. Friday evening, I reached home to see a big parcel waiting on the table for me, and I opened it with nervous energy.
First things first: I don’t like the cover. It’s muddy and its less attractive on the earlier two. Had I not been a reader of earlier two, I would “not” have picked this one up ONLY by looking at the cover. (I mean, check the other two and then see the last one above and tell me...which "look" more interesting?)
Two: Phew… it’s a BIG book. And for first two readings, I had real problem focusing, coz I took some time adjusting to the font. (But it’s possible that dynamic fonts on my Kindle has spoiled meJ)
Three: I’m against reviews with spoilers. My reviews are usually are written to entice the reader of the review to grab the book and read it himself. But… it’s going to be VERY hard task, to review the novel without spoilers. So, if you want a pristine review…walk away now … (or surf away, whichever suits you)
Now to the review.
It’s going to be hard surmising the book in one word. And that makes my work real harder. So let me start with what I’m feeling. I wish the book was a bit shorter. Coz the story that Amish tells in essence is a very good narrative. It’s just a bit too long. And first 300-350 odd pages, Amish stretches it too thin. If I did not have the bug in my head, which forces me to complete every series I start to read… I would have given up the novel after 200 pages. The Amish that you read in first two novel, who was crisp of words and solid of the ideas is lost somewhere in his attempt to explain the reasons and clarifying concepts. You expected him to start on with astonishment of discovering Brihaspati alive and well and then move on to finding the TRUE evil… sadly, it doesn’t really happen like that. The book’s back-cover talk about Shiva’s journey to discover the EVIL and his true adversary and then destroying both. The back cover is not a lie. The story does chronicle Shiva’s discovery of both. But the “discovery” happens in first 50 pages itself. And when the great EVIL is revealed… I found myself asking “Really? THAT’S the big evil? HE is the true adversary?”
The portrayal of the Somras as evil and Bhrigu as the mastermind of it all, is sadly under-whelming. So is the way it all is “revealed”. Amish probably forgot that there was a gap of more than a year and half between his last installment and this one, so he should have taken some time to build the reveal, which he did not. And that meant a real shock-less exposure. The reasons that Brahaspati offers to prove Somras as Evil are also presented in a rather same manner. Had he talked about the plague in Branga a bit more or had his discussions around disappearing of Saraswati a bit elaborative, the impact might have been a lot stronger. Possibly, Amish was more focused on the story that unfolds AFTER the big reveal that this was missed. But because of it, I felt the reveal was really not THAT big. There were definitely times when you felt why Bhrigu was a great man to oppose, like when Shiva finally learns that he can read minds. (It was a creepy feeling, coz while Shiva was told that secret, Bhagirath was being grilled by Bhrigu)… but I believe this came a bit too late in the story and it lasted only for a small time, so again… a waste.
The next 250-300 pages, are all about war and war strategy. Somehow, these 300 pages were the worst part of the entire book. I understand that the book was based in a time when fighter planes and satellite communication was not present and the “wars” were fought over “years” and not mere days. That fighting against a vast expanse of Old India would have taken time… but was it really necessary for the reader to “feel” those long months? I mean seriously…it actually FEELS like you’ve been reading for more than 6 months…
I’m not a big fan of war movies/games/books. So, possibly, my un-interest had something to make me feel bored. If I take a bird’s eye view, I realized that strike and counter-strike in the stories were actually good. Had it been crisper, It would have been much much better.
Getting to the Vayuputra. For starters…They don’t appear in the story for first 400 pages. So, “WHY” the novel is called Oath of the Vayuputras is open for discussion and your guess would be as good as mine. But once they do come in, and you do realize that geography wise Amish is talking about Parsi community, you kind of go with the flow. Adjust. J
The novel then picks up speed after that. The next 150-180 pages, you find the Amish that you had read in the past two books. The narrative is tight here onwards. The story progresses with speed, and even when things in Shiva’s world happen over a long time, the novel quickly becomes a page turner. These last pages see a LOT happening. And even when I have shared some spoilers above, I believe these pages need not be revealed. They need to be read.
Going a little wry here… have you seen Harry Potter movies? Did you see how the movies derailed when they switched the director? And then when Peter Jackson once again took the reins of the movies in his hands, and the movies got their original flourish back… Oath of the Vayuputras is like that… first two novels were Amish’s style… fast, interesting and gripping. Vayuputras’ first 300-350 pages are like he switched the director in his head… and then after that switched back to the original director again.
So, even if it’s a BIG book you could read it, only for the last 100 or so pages. That’s where REAL action is. Even tha epilogue/end chapter is lame. The last page where Amish hints at what his NEXT novel is going to be… really feels like a stretch. But even with ALL these… it’s a interesting enough end for what was an intriguing trilogy. J