Author: Piet Hein Wokke
Published: 1st May 2017
Publisher: Xowox Publishing
“Do people ever really fight over religion?
Or do they use religion to fight?”
War rages in the West, but the East is not immune to its call. In the capital of Beledar – Mayasin – the old Emir is dying, and his son, Jalal, British-educated and with modern sensibilities, is poised to take leadership over a fractious nation.
Growing up in the poorest streets of Mayasin, Abdullah ekes out a meagre living shining shoes, selling arak, and performing less savoury favours for visiting foreigners in the city. But one bloodied, fateful night when the course of his life changes forever.
In a remote desert village on the other side of Beledar, Khalid is witness to immense brutality, meted out by his elder brother. He is forced to go along with it and not yet a teenager, he already has blood on his hands.
Sunni and Shi’i, royalist and revolutionary. One is destined for the palace, the other for the army. As their nation grapples with a new world, new independence, new ideas, and new struggles, the lives of these two boys will become inextricably intertwined… and the fate of the whole country will hang in the balance.
Thanks to Xowox Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Revolution follows two boys, Abdullah and Khalid, in a fictional Middle Eastern country, set around the time of the Second World War. It is filled with discussions on politics, religion and war, but it is fuelled by the social, human interactions that these two characters experience. The discussions are intelligent but not confusing, and the story is just as much about the people, as it is about these themes.
Both main characters had incredibly interesting stories, and were written in a way that made me want to be reading about one whilst reading about the other, in both characters’ cases. I only wish I could have read this book whilst studying Middle Eastern history last year – it completely brings the place, the society, the corruption, and the religious politics to life, especially in the beginning of the novel. I felt like I was walking the streets with Abdullah, and within the army with Khalid. Wokke creates a very vivid world, and a very real one.
I found the character of the new King to be the most interesting though. The insight into the way the political structure worked was gripping to read. Reading about his British education, and the way it, and his Western Queen, influence his thinking in terms of both religion and politics, was very interesting.
Overall, this was a very thought-provoking and well-written book. The examination of the lives of the individuals in this country was engaging and drove the story throughout. The characters are very well fleshed out, and the world is painted very clearly in the reader’s mind. This book is definitely worth a read!