‘Trade winds to Meluhha’ is set in the Bronze Age. It narrates a young man Samasin’s adventure in Mesopotamia and Indus Valley Civilization. He is charged with murder and escapes death through a rare astronomical event which is actually recorded in clay tablets excavated in ancient Babylon. He lands in Meluhha (Indus Valley) where besides the query he also finds wealth and love.
From the start of the novel the hook is a murder, after which events take you travelling through modern-day Iraq to Pakistan via Oman/Bahrain. This novel just oozes the amount of time spent in research and presents a thoughtful approach to the lives and times mentioned. Information about everything from the sealed clay tablets used for communication, the description about the bead manufacturing process are authentic and, educate us about the different tools and crafts widely used at the time.
The characters, and there is a large cast of characters in this book, are very well written and actually based on research in the time period covered by the novel. But, while being believable, they became a little muted at times. The Sumerian language that they speak has been found in cuneiform script, again an indication of how much research this Author conducted.
However, despite the start of the story being very interesting, with readers becoming involved in exploring the new world around them along with what’s happening, the narrative becomes very difficult to follow as it wanders from one city to another and the cast of characters keep changing. In one portion of the novel the Author uses a language which doesn’t appear to be authentic to the setting in which it is used.
After the promising start that this novel had, it takes a slight turn and commences on what can only be described as a hilly ride. It picks up, and completely gains your interest again, only to drop down a few pages later. All this culminates in an ending which, after reading the rest of the novel, seems a little bit rushed and far too convenient for me, with all loose ends being tied up nicely.
In the edition I read there was a chapter “How This Prehistoric Novel Was Written” at the end. I feel this may have been better placed at the beginning of the novel, as its explanation of places, location, and names, with respect to our modern day geography, may help future readers to appreciate the writing more. Also in the Kindle edition, the pages are full of hyperlinks to this information, and I found that to be a little annoying; if I hit one in error to have my page suddenly change to something else.
This novel is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, with a definite and obvious lack of vulgarity and violence which I didn’t find believable given the time period. It is not a fast paced novel as one would expect in a murder, and it didn’t evoke the emotions it could have, given the location and topics covered.
I applaud the intensive research the Author did when putting this sweeping novel together and also the way he successfully integrated fiction and non-fiction. However, when it came to the bottom line, unfortunately it didn’t deliver for me. I would recommend this to other lovers of the historical genre, so they can read something a little bit different from the usual offerings.