The year is 1824; the Sixth Light Dragoons are still stationed in India, and the talk in the officer's mess is of war. The Burmese are increasingly challenging the Company's dominion, and skirmishes are becoming common on India's borders. Meanwhile, across the country in Rajputana, a princely succession has been usurped. The rightful claimant to the raj, Balwant Singh, has been forced from the throne by the war monger Durjan Sal. A conflagration looks set to flare, taking the surrounding provinces with it. With the threat of war on two fronts, British troops must intervene. The trial ahead will test Hervey and his newly blooded troop to their very limits, for Durjan Sal has taken refuge in the infamous fortress of Bhurtpore. The fortress stands within a five-mile in perimeter, a deep ditch runs around it which can be flooded at a moment's notice, and thirty-five turreted bastions rise from its thick and lofty walls. And as the Tower of Victory, built two decades before with the skulls of Lord Lake's defeated men, bears witness, it has withstood all attacks. But no fortress is impregnable, given the will, the wit and the means.
Of one thing Hervey can be sure: the siege of Bhurtpore will be hot, bloody and dangerous work. Once again, the fortunes of Matthew Hervey and his courageous troop will be decided by the sabre's edge.
Allan Mallinson was a serving cavalry officer. He is also the author of Light Dragoons, a history of four regiments of British Cavalry, one of which he commanded, and a regular reviewer for The Times, the Spectator and the Literary Review. His Matthew Hervey novels are Sunday Times bestsellers and are all available in Bantam paperback.