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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Yalgaar: The 1659 Event That Changed Hindustan's Destiny by Arnold Boleman takes us back to seventeenth-century India before the arrival of the British when large swathes of India (Hindustan) were ruled by a coterie of Muslim Shahs and their armies. The Hindu religion of the local people and their thousands of years of civilization and great writings had been destroyed. The subjugated Hindus were forced to convert to Islam or die. Many willingly submitted to death rather than repudiate their beliefs. Equally, many would kowtow to their Muslim conquerors. Some decided to make a stand, though. In the Maaval province, a king arose and began to gather the forces necessary to sustain the long journey back to Hindu salvation and the reinstatement of Hindustan to its rightful ruler. When Hiroji, a young hardworking peasant, and his father find their womenfolk raped and killed by marauding Muslim soldiers, they set out on a journey to find themselves and to exact revenge for the horrors that have been inflicted upon their family.
Yalgaar is a powerful novel that weaves its story around the true events and characters that shaped India's destiny in the mid-seventeenth century. Author Arnold Boleman has perfectly captured the period and the sheer senseless brutality of all the participants in this bloody war. He has written a novel that captures the reader from the very start and propels him or her through these tumultuous times. I have read of many conflicts over the years but had never realized the utter violence and political maneuverings that helped shape modern-day India. I thank the author for bringing this conflict to the written page and broadening my knowledge of the history of India and, indeed, two of the world's great religions. I particularly appreciated the part of the story when one of the Hindu leaders was picking apart the words of the Koran and asking the question: How can civilized peoples possibly follow these principles laid down to follow their deity. It was clear that Islamic belief was in direct conflict with the affirming messages of Hindu deities and even Buddhism. This was enlightening and also a tad frightening when analyzed in this straightforward manner. This fantastic story opens up all sorts of new avenues of thought when considering morality, philosophy, and the sanctity of life.