O is for Oath of the Vayuputras

Oath of the Vayuputras is the third part of Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy. The trilogy tells the story of Shiva and his family, including his wife Sita and his sons Ganesh and Karthik. The books recount Shiva’s rise as the Neelkanth (the blue-throated one) and his ultimate victory over evil. Released in 2013, Oath of the Vayuputras recounts the final epic battle where good triumphs over evil at deep personal cost to Shiva.

The first book in the Shiva Trilogy, Immortals of Meluha, was the first book I bought in India. After two days in a haze, I finally ventured out alone for the first time and wandered into the Crossword bookstore around the corner from my house.

Editor’s note: The Crossword bookstore was replaced last year by a Starbucks Coffee. As much as I love Starbucks, I’d rather have my local bookstore back.

I looked at the bestseller books on the wall. All were foreign. In some Crossword bookstores, they differentiate between overall bestsellers and Indian bestsellers. Typically, books by Indian authors appear on the overall bestseller list.

This list from 4 April 2014 is a typical mix on Indian and foreign authors. Note that all three Shiva Trilogy books are on the list.

That day, all the authors happened to be foreign. I asked myself “Why on Earth would I come all the way to India and read books by Robert Ludlum?” I moved into the Indian bestsellers section, uncertain as to how many books would be available in English. To my relief, all the bestsellers were in English. India has many authors who write exclusively in English.

I found Immortals of the Meluha and liked that I could learn the story of Shiva. I also liked the author’s personal story. Amish is an IIM Kolkata grad and former banker from Mumbai. I liked the idea of reading a book by a local author.  I went home and read the book in a few hours. I returned to the bookstore the next day and bought the sequel. I finished that book in a couple of days (jet lag had begun to set in). Then, I had to wait…and wait…and wait for the final book to appear. I followed Amish on Facebook, anxiously awaiting updates on the release. The wait was like Harry Potter all over again. Agonizing.

Finally, Oath of the Vayuputras was released in February 2013. I bought the book on the first day. I dove into it,  not intimidated by its nearly 600 pages. Around page 200, I threw the book on the floor, frustrated. The Lord Shiva had just used the phrase “groundwater contamination” in a sentence. I’m all for making historical figures relatable, and allow for a certain amount of anachronism in fiction books. But, that phrase set me off. In the Acknowledgements section for the book, Amish mentions that his editor had been ill. Unfortunately, that was obvious. Although I sympathize deeply with the editor, as I know how hard it is to edit when you don’t feel well, I felt she was on autopilot. Barely, proofreading the book by her much-adored author. The book was a disappointing, unsatisfying end to an intriguing trilogy.

Despite my reservations about the final book, I recommend the Shiva Trilogy to expats new to Mumbai. The books help introduce you to several important Hindu gods and Indian culture.

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