An Empire Defied
Vinatha Viswanathan
THE LEGEND OF BAHIRJI-NAIK: RAIDERS OF SURAT (BOOK I) by Shreyas Bhave Leadstart India, 2022, 343 pp., 399.00
March 2023, volume 47, No 3

Shivaji’s Maratha Swarajya is in peril—with the Mughals closing in, his empty coffers mean that his loyal army hasn’t been paid in months. If Swarajya must be saved, there is only one way out and that is to somehow get a lot of money, and soon. So, Shivaji’s guptachars plot an audacious attack on the city of riches—Sura—where bania, Mughal, British and other traders all have amassed hoards of money, gems and other valuables. And where now, hidden from most, is gold bullion.  This would be a raid that would leave Surat devastated and destroyed, but that would be their only hope for Swarajya.

This fast-paced historical fiction is a thriller that has several strong characters each with their own stories with plots, all skilfully woven to come together in a very satisfying finish. There is blood, gore, cutthroat trading, guile, subterfuge, deception, cunning and betrayal in this tale. The looting of Surat by Shivaji’s army proves successful as the Mughals guarding it and the traders and their mercenaries are defeated by the guptachars. Shivaji is victorious and walks away with the loot.

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