1817 and 1818 have not been good years for Matthew Hervey. His beloved wife Henrietta is dead and, believing that he can no longer remain in a regiment where men like Lord Towcester can rise to command, he has turned his back on the Sixth. Now he is kicking his heels in a corrupt and unruly England far removed from its once glorious past. 1819 sees Hervey in Rome with his sister Elizabeth where a chance meeting with Percy Bysshe Shelley leads him to rethink his future. Joined by his old friend Captain Peto, the smell of gun powder in his nostrils, Hervey realises just how much he misses the excitement of military action and the camaraderie of his regiment. Soon he is en route for Hounslow via Whitehall where he hurriedly purchases a new commission and is refitted for the uniform of the 6th Light Dragoons. He finds a regiment that is much changed, however. Depleted in numbers, it is now under the assured leadership of Sir Ivo Lankester, brother of Edward Lankester, hero of Waterloo. Hervey's most immediate task is to raise a new troop and then to organise transport, for his men and horses are to set sail for India with immediate effect.
What Hervey and his greenhorn soldiers cannot know is that in India they will face one of their toughest trials. For a large number of Burmese warboats are being assembled near the headwaters of the river leading to Chittagong, and the only way to thwart their advance involves an arduous and hazardous march through jungled territory. What begins as a relatively simple operation becomes a journey into the heart of darkness, as Hervey and his troop find themselves in the midst of hot and bloody action once more.
Allan Mallinson is a serving cavalry officer. He originally trained for the Anglican priesthood, but joined the army in 1969 and served with the infantry in Malaya, Cyprus and Northern Ireland. He subsequently commanded the 13th/18th Royal Hussars in Cyprus and Norway, and has since worked in the Ministry of Defence and for the Foreign Office. He is the author of Light Dragoons, a history of British cavalry, and a regular reviewer for the Spectator. Allan Mallinson is currently studying at the Italian Higher Defence Institute prior to appointment as military attache in Rome. He is the author of A Close Run Thing, The Nizam's Daughters, A Regimental Affair and A Call to Arms, featuring Matthew Hervey of the Light Dragoons.