Our Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality book review is a spoiler-free discussion of the final Pandava book by Roshani Chokshi.
When the author of Percy Jackson first announced his new imprint, Rick Riordan Presents, I couldn’t have been more delighted by the premise. Fans have been asking Rick for years to write stories based on other mythologies. After all, we all wish we could experience the joy of Percy Jackson again for the first time.
Even if time wasn’t an issue (and it most definitely is), he’s been understandably hesitant to tap into histories, religions, folktales, and cultures he doesn’t belong to. There are other authors equally as talented who are in a much better position to share those tales with us.
That’s how RRP was formed, and since its launch in 2018, 14 different authors have worked to bring various mythologies to life (with more on the way). We’ve gotten dozens of books full of interesting characters set amongst otherworldly backgrounds going on incredible adventures. Each one has been a unique delight, and I couldn’t be happier with the quality of stories I’ve consumed thanks to this imprint.
But the Pandava Quintet by Roshani Chokshi holds a special place in my heart. It kicked off Rick Riordan Presents just over four years ago, and I instantly fell in love with Aru Shah. She was a bit like Percy Jackson—impulsive and riddled with doubt, eternally getting into trouble and yet always finding the best way through—but existed in a world I knew little about. She swung the door into Hindu mythology wide open in a way I’ve never experienced before.
Seeing the Pandava series come to a close is bittersweet. These books have been a bright spot for me over the years, and it’s been invigorating to watch Aru grow and change throughout that time. But I’m still sad to see her go.
After all, it’s been quite the journey! Four years ago, Aru found out who her father was and what he was willing to do to get what he wanted. Every book since then has been about discovering a way to stop him and finding out what kind of person she is along the way.
Thankfully, she hasn’t been alone. Brynne and Mini have been wonderful sisters, and to see their relationships strengthen over the years has been an absolute highlight of the series. Sheela and Nikita took a little longer to come into the fold, but they found their place quickly enough. And then there’s brooding, complicated Aiden. And Rudy. You can’t forget about him.
This series has brought Hindu mythology to life in such a most vibrant and magical way, weaving together a narrative that has both uplifted the original stories and re-imagined them. It has allowed those familiar with these tales to experience them in a new way, while also opening the door to newcomers who might’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer breadth and nuance of these legends.
But most of you probably already know that, and you don’t need my Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality book review to tell you. Needless to say, this fifth and final book in the series is a stunningly beautiful and satisfying ending to the Pandava Quintet.
At the end of book 4, Kara destroyed Aru, Brynne, and Mini’s weapons. What follows in this book is a harrowing journey, not just across the Otherworld but also in the Pandavas’ hearts. Who are they without their weapons? What can they do without the favor of the gods on their side?
Roshani Chokshi is a brilliant storyteller, and one of her greatest strengths is taking the time to highlight each character’s weakness and letting them work through their fears in their own time. Never does the story feel like it’s dragging or like she’s rushing forward. Everything happens for a reason, in its own time, right when it needs to.
With an ensemble cast as large as this one, that’s no easy feat. Everyone gets their moment in the spotlight where they show us how they turn those weaknesses into strengths. I have a hard time choosing favorites because I can see bits of myself in each member of the main trio, but Mini’s time to shine was particularly satisfying for me.
Much of Nectar of Immortality is about being at your lowest point and finding the strength to pick yourself up, dust off your shoulders, and keep going. It’s not always easy, and you don’t always know what you’re going to do until the moment comes, but that’s okay. It would be nice if we had all the answers all the time, but no one does. Sometimes it’s better to trust your instincts and have your friends by your side.
Without giving away any spoilers in this Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality book review, I want to talk about the ending of the series. It’s always difficult turning to that final page of a beloved book—even more so if you’ve spent years with these characters—because the ending can make or break your overall feelings.
Suffice it to say, there’s nothing to worry about here. In fact, I found that Roshani wrapped up the entire series in a way that both closed the door on this story and kept the Pandavas alive in my mind in a way that made it feel like they’d always be there when I needed them.
When Kristen and interviewed Roshani Chokshi on Prophecy Radio, I was sure to ask about the future of the Pandava series. After all, several of the other RRP authors have gone on to write spin-off series, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to visit the Pandavas again.
In response, Roshani said, “I did leave myself a window to climb back into the world. I would love to [write more], I just don’t know when.” She then went on to say, “I really feel like in order to do any sort spin-off book justice, I really need to give it a mental break and give it space.”
Fair enough! Besides, Roshani also talked about some upcoming projects she has in the works, and we’re excited to get our hands on those when they’re released. You can listen to the interview in full on Prophecy Radio episode #26.
As much as I’m sad about saying goodbye to Aru right now, I’m happy I had our time together. I can always go back and visit the series whenever I want, and there are plenty of upcoming Rick Riordan Presents books to be excited about, too. Be sure to stay tuned to Prophecy Radio for all the latest news about Rick Riordan’s projects, new and old.
‘Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality’ hits store shelves on April 5, 2022
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