Mountain Shadow

Mountain Shadow

Book - 2016
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A breath of Bombay hope, in the first glimpse of the sea, on Marine Drive, filled my heart, if not my head. I turned away from the red shadow. I stopped thinking of that pyramid of killers, and Sanjay's recklessness. I stopped thinking about my own part in the madness. And I rode, with my friends, into the end of everything.' The end of the eighties was the beginning of everything. The Berlin wall fell on a ruined empire, and the Taliban took Afghanistan. Lin, on the run after escaping from prison in Australia, working as a passport forger for a Bombay mafia gang, finds himself standing on a tattered corner of a bloody carpet that would soon cover most of the world. But he can't leave the Island City: not without Karla. Two years after the events in Shantaram, Bombay is a different world, playing by different rules. Lin's search for love and faith leads him through secret and violent intrigues to the dangerous truth.
Publisher: New York, NY : Grove, 2016.
ISBN: 9780802125552
Characteristics: 873 pages ; 23 cm.


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Aug 02, 2019

As with Shantaram, the first book in this two book epic, I think this could have used a serious edit. I firmly believe that one long novel could have served better, and a lot of the excess is simply Roberts habit of trying to be a bit too poetic and lyrical in his descriptions. It is a very interesting tale, and amazing that it is largely based on the author's actual life, but it has a few flaws that kept me from giving either novel more than 3 or 3 1/2 stars. It did change my entire way of looking at India, and the city of Bombay is now much more fascinating to me. I do wonder about just how much Roberts makes his Lin character prone to trying to 'do the right thing', to the point of becoming almost self righteous by the end of this book. He seemed to like reminding us all just how tough and hard Lin was, and he seems able to commit all kinds of terrible acts with very little remorse, and yet he also tries so obviously to make Lin always come out looking like a decent guy at heart. And the love story between Lin and Karla just tries too hard, IMO. Lin seems to take no disrespect from anyone, except Karla (and Lisa to a lesser extent), who seems able to treat him like a complete fool and he happily puts up with it? Just doesn't ring true to me. But overall, a decent novel, if overly long.

Jan 10, 2016

This is a sequel to the highly successful book Shantaram. At over 900 pages I found it a little long and found myself skimming some pages. Roberts generally started his chapters with some good description that draws the reader in and ended them with some pseudo philosophical reflections that sometimes came across as sappy and really not that deep.
I do give the book credit for immersing the reader into an otherwise foreign world in India. In Roberts's hands India comes off as a place where extreme violence and corruption can just as easily be found as a spiritual awakening.
The relationship between the protagonist Lin and Karla, his love interest was the best part of the book for me.
Lin is Roberts's literary alter ego. He's a former criminal, but I would like Lin handled more objectively. It seems that Lin is kind of flawless, even though he gets into some major trouble. I'd prefer a warts and all characterization than a kind of idealized version of Roberts's own self.
This book is crammed with dialogue and not as much observation and descriptions as Shantaram, and I think it suffers for it. I liked that Shantram drew us deeper and deeper into the details of its characters and landscape. At times this simply reads like a one note crime novel with some armchair philosophy and at times grating dialogue. I give it 3.5 stars for its ambition, but for a book that took over 12 years to write, I don't know if it totally delivers on the promise of Shantaram.


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