Age of Shiva

Age of Shiva is the sixth book in James Lovegrove’s Pantheon series of standalone military science fiction adventure novels featuring the gods of ancient mythologies (something he refers to as ‘Godpunk’) the other five being The Age of Ra, The Age of Zeus, The Age of Odin, Age of Aztec and Age of Voodoo. Drawing inspiration from the Vedas, a Hindu equivalent of the Bible (particularly Bhagavata Purana, which is primarily focusing on Vishnu) Lovegrove has used the Supreme God of Vaishnavism and his Ten Avatars as the novel’s subject matter.

The comics artist Zachary Bramwell, better known under his pseudonym Zak Zap (who is the narrator of this story), is pushing forty and wondering why his life isn’t as exciting as the lives of the superheroes he draws. One day, he is shanghaied by black-suited thugs and flown to ‘Mount Meru’, a vast complex built atop a remote island in the Maldives. There, Zak meets The Trinity Syndicate - a trio of eccentric billionaire businessmen (media mogul, arms manufacturer and biochemist) who reveal to him that they have artificially created (by a process they call 'theogenesis') the Dashavatara, a formidable team of ten godlike super-powered beings, based on the Ten Avatars of Vishnu from the Hindu mythology, and put him to work designing awe-inspiring costumes for them.

The Ten Avatars battle demons and aliens and seem to be the saviours of a world teetering on collapse. But their presence in itself is an omen of the impending apocalypse. The Vedic fourth age of civilisation, Kali Yuga (‘age of the demon Kali’, or ‘age of vice’) is coming to an end, and Zak has a ringside seat for the final, all-out war between good and evil, that threatens the very existence of Earth.

Age of Shiva is an intriguing retelling of classical Hindu mythology, brought, in an unexpected form, into the modern world, the world where nature-meddling scientists, greedy multinational corporations and rogue governments all work in tandem, making the best effort to corrupt all good, pure and holy. Possibly Lovegrove’s best yet.