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.
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.