The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

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The Mountain Shadow Source: Library

Five words from the blurb: Bombay, forgery, gangs,friends, violence

Shantaram is one of my favourite books so I was looking forward to reading the sequel. Unfortunately The Mountain Shadow isn’t in the same league and actually highlighted the flaws of its predecessor, making both books appear worse than they really are.

The Mountain Shadow begins where Shantaram left off. It is set almost entirely in Bombay and follows Lin through his underground life, which mainly revolves around forgery and mafia gangs. It has the same cast of wonderfully eclectic characters and it was good to see what had happened to them all, but I occasionally lost track of who some of them were!

The main problem was that the plot wasn’t as interesting as Shantaram’s. There was still the odd adventure, but it didn’t feel as exciting as first time round – I’d read similar stories before and could almost predict their outcome. It also lacked the goodness of the first book. I loved the way Lin’s character could never be defined as evil because he kept doing wonderful things – setting up the medical centre in the slums, for example. This time he appeared more criminal and so I didn’t warm to him as much.

I loved the flowery descriptions contained in Shantaram, but they began to annoy me in The Mountain Shadow. I’m not sure if this is because they were more prevalent, or I didn’t have the gripping plot to distract me. The story seemed to meander all over the place so the lack of narrative drive probably compounded this problem.

Love unlived is a sin against life, and mourning is one of the ways we love. I felt it then, and I let it happen, the longing for him to return. The power in his eyes, and the pride when I did something he admired, and the love in his laugh. The longing: the longing for the lost.

There were some great sections in this book, but on reflection I wish I hadn’t read it. Shantaram is an amazing book, but this one diluted its power. 



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  1. Mystica says:

    Oh dear! here was I waiting to find this book. I did so love Shantaram. Though such a chunkster, I just couldnt put it down.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, This is a chunkster too, but I wanted to put it down all the time :-( It was a real effort to reach the end – the complete opposite reading experience to Shantaram. :-(

  2. Laurie C says:

    I bought Shantaram (used) but it’s still sitting on my shelf unread! Too bad the sequel didn’t live up to the first. That’s often the way, though, isn’t it? I wonder if there will be a third book or if the author’s going to go on to something new.

    1. Jackie says:

      Laurie, I hope there is a third book as it would be nice to rediscover the magic of his writing. Hopefully he’ll get his writing power back soon!

  3. Alex says:

    I hate it when that happens. The same thing was true of the follow up to Patrick Rothfuss’s ‘The Name of the Wind’ which left so little impression on me that I can’t even recall the title.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I haven’t read any Rothfuss, but that book keeps appearing in conversations – I’ll have to get a copy soon!

  4. Diane says:

    Too bad Jackie, I was looking forward to this one. However, after being disappointed by 900p City of Fire –quit after 200+pp, I may skip this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, It’s such a shame isn’t it? I really should have given up early on – but Shantaram was so good I had to give it the benefit of the doubt.

  5. i just finished The Mountain Shadow last night and you have summed it up perfectly. I loved Shantaram, but the whole time I was reading The Mountain Shadow I kept thinking I mis-remembered Shantaram. It really was so much better than the Mountain Shadow, wasn’t it? In this one there are too many characters, and notably mostly expats, too much flowery prose as if he was trying to prove he can write pretty as well as mean, and too many words!

    1. Jackie says:

      Tanya, It’s so good to hear that we had the same opinion of this one. I only read Shantaram 6 months ago, but I was also thinking that maybe I was wrong to praise it so much. I kept doubting my initial reading experience. Good to know we both think Shantaram is amazing, but this one isn’t! Such a shame.

  6. I have heard such great things about Shantaram, and do hope to read it one day. The size, admittedly, is part of what has kept me away. From what you and Tanya have to say, it sounds like this one may be worth skipping.

    1. Jackie says:

      Literary Feline, Yes, I think this one takes away some of Shantaram’s magic. Don’t worry about Shantaram’s length – I’m sure you’ll love every minute. But I’d recommend avoiding the sequel.

  7. Violet says:

    Shantaram is one of my favourite books as well. I was excited about his new book but after reading your review, I have second thoughts about buying it. I might (just might) give it a shot though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I hope you have more luck than I did!

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