Friday, May 31, 2013

To Far Off Lands

Trade Winds To Meluhha by Vasant Davé

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. Review based on an old edition of the book. 

Summary: In the year 2138 BC, Samasin worked as a stable boy with a wealthy Babylonian named NERGAL. One day he was falsely implicated in the murder of a foreign trader. Tipped off by Nergal's divorced wife ELLA about risk to his life, he fled to the distant land of Meluhha in search of SIWA SAQRA whose name the dying man had uttered. During the voyage, he met a beautiful damsel, VELLI. He fell in her love but was dismayed to find that she was still devoted to a person who had jilted her. He also met ANN, a Mesopotamian woman who concealed her identity because she was determined to search out a couple of faceless men for revenge.

On the way, Samasin learnt about a board etched with ten glyphs (actually excavated on the site of Dholavira) and with Ann's help deciphered them, leading to an adventure in the ravines of the Saraswathi. He faced a series of obstacles including a few which almost killed him. Then he found that they were manoeuvred. Finally when he met Siwa Saqra, he learnt that there was more to the murder in Babylon than met the eye.

Circumstances brought all the characters together in Babylon when with awe they discovered the stark reality about the trade between Meluhha and Mesopotamia.

Review: A somewhat convoluted tale of murder, lust, and revenge set in the Bronze Age.

Trade Winds To Meluhha is a first for me. I know very little about the Bronze Age and certainly have not read any historical fiction novels set in the time period. The novel started with the idea of the possibility of trade between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. Those what ifs can make for good stories. Since, as I had mentioned earlier, I am not very knowledgeable about the Bronze Age, I wondered about the historical accuracy of the work. According to the summary, Dave has vetted the work with renowned archaeologist so I can rest easy with that.

There is certainly a lot of intrigue in Trade Winds To Meluhha with plenty of characters. I don’t mind books with large number of characters (I do enjoy space opera after all), but I do need the characters to stand out, be their own person. Unfortunately, a number of the characters blend together in this book. Samasin is a remarkably tenacious character. He gets up in a bad situation a number of times yet is still determined to deliver his message. The book ends on a happy note.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in historical fiction set in the Bronze Age.

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