May 23, 2016

The Mountain Shadow: Book Review

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This novel is a sequel to the earlier novel Shantaram. The earlier novel ended with the protagonist Lin (a.k.a. Shantaram) realizing that his friend Abdullah is alive. Shantaram also parted ways with his girlfriend Karla. Karla had married a rich business tycoon and  Shantaram started living with Lisa. The novel also ended with Sanjay taking place of the head of mafia gang and others unwillingly relenting to his command. 
"Writers never really die, until people stop quoting them."

This novel starts with Shantaram's emotional conflicts with Lisa. Lisa was in two minds about Shantaram , and more so because she knew that deep inside, Shantaram still loved Karla. Also, Lisa didn't want to get stuck at a place or with a person. She was also of bisexual nature. All these things started complicating their relationships. Finally, one day Lisa broke up with Shantaram. What hurt Shantaram was not the break-up, but the high expectations from Lisa, even at the time of break-up (like money, loan, car etc.). After that Shantaram goes on his last salvation mission to Sri Lanka, a mission which will free him from the mafia gangs world of Bombay. In his absence, Lisa was murdered by one of Shantaram's enemy. He gets together with his girlfriend Karla in quest of the murderer. Post this point the novel starts revolving more around the Karla-Shantaram relationship. This is one refreshing aspect of this novel. 

Some time later, his friend Abdullah takes him to Idriss- the wise sage on the mountain, who was the Guru of KhaderBhai. A large part of novel is dedicated to the Karla-Shantaram spending time in Idriss's mountain aashram. Devotees and people loving philosophical conversations keep flocking to the Idriss aashram, and Shantaram-Karla duo starts loving this place. 

The novel also deals with Lin's friends Gemini Gorges winning lottery worth millions (actually it was inheritance property discovered), and how they face hassles facing the new-found limelight.

Another plot involved in the novel is the Shantaram-Sanjay-rival gang equation. Sanjay gang's rivalry with opposition gang keeps increasing and it reaches to a point where KhaderBhai's own cousine child  Tariq who was his coming up heir, was killed along with his protector Nazeer. Both these person were very close to Shantaram. Sanjay's working style was being hated upon by more and more people in his own gang. Abdullah was planning for a revolt against him. So there is a three angled crime scene going in the mafia world of Shantaram .

Shantaram moves out of mafia gang and starts living solo, working freelance. Karla starts spending more and more time with Shantaram. Karla's husband was responsible for Lisa's murder, and they finally were relieved to have him dead indirectly. The novel ends with a sad note of a bloody war between Sanjay gang and Abdullah, where both Sanjay and Abdullah dies. Karla and Shantaram's story ends on a happy note finally.
Truth is the freedom of the soul. We’re very young, in this young universe, and we often fail, and dishonour ourselves, even if only in the caves of the mind

 Unlike its prequel novel "Shantaram", this novel deals more with the abstract things- the relationships, the philosophical talks, the psychological stuffs and how human minds think on various matters. Love and relationships takes a center stage in this novel. Karla's overpowering character and Shantaram's humble nature has been shown brilliantly. The contrast of fast city life and the soothing life in the lap of mountainous nature too has been focussed. All in all, an interesting read.

P.S.- I have collated together some wonderful quotes from the novel. You can read them here. In case you want to know more about the earlier novel in this series- "Shantaram", You can read the book review of Shantaram here.

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