Trade Winds to Meluhha

Written by Vasant Davé
Review by Anne Holt

“Samasin, an orphaned stable boy, rushes to help a foreigner sprawled with a slashed neck in a deserted tavern in Babylon. Gasping for the last breath, the stranger presses a fish-hook in his palm and pleads, ‘Give to Siwa Saqra.’ The youngster is accused of murder, and to clear his name, he must identify the assassin. He escapes the death sentence pronounced on him by the elders of Babylon and flees… into many adventures.”

The story is that of Samasin’s “dogged pursuit to end an evil trade wrecking many a young Mesopotamian’s life.”

The concept of this adventure is inspired, and the characters all very believable as they are not the usual one-dimensional goody or baddy. The plot has several good twists of unsolved murders, hidden treasure and exciting boat voyages.

I did find it rather slow to get going however, with chapters having a different cast, and therefore point of view changes — not easy for writers to do and keep their reader hooked or interested in the characters, which was my problem with the narrative. I found certain chapters hard to read because I wanted to remain with Samasin’s adventures, not with those of the other people.

The several anachronisms were also a little difficult to swallow. I would suggest a re-edit to give the book a slight polish.